Tails of the Pet Avengers #1

Frog-Thor, Zabu, Ms. Lion, Lockjaw, Lockheed, and Redwing are all back with a collection of new adventures geared towards all ages enjoyment.

Frog Thor (I thought we were calling him Throg?) relinquishes his place among the frogs of Central Park in a tale that features alligators and (as always) fabulous art by Ig Guara. Ms. Lion checks in thanks to Colleen Coover, and in doing so attempts to foil a plot to cause hundreds to get sea sick so a pair of conniving chefs can cash in. Gurihiru provides some near-Disney art for two separate tales. The first features Zabu going about his usual business in the Savage Land. Of course, that usual business includes dinosaurs. In the second tale drawn by Gurihiru, but written by Scott Gray, Mad Dog visits Attilan, but quickly discovers he's not THE big dog on the moon.

The writing crew here (Eliopoulos, Coover, Scalera, and Caramagna) turn in a nice set of fun stories appropriate for all ages. The all ages aspect of this read includes a wink and a nod -- several actually ("Alpha Flight" for one) to more experienced Marvel readers without coming across as being contrived or empty. My kids loved the first "Pet Avengers" mini and, with this issue, they get another chance to reintroduce themselves to the Pet Avengers, except here each pet gets a star turn in the spotlight.

The writing in this book is light-hearted and enjoyable, and the art is masterfully suited to match the tone of the book. Guara's work is perfect for the frog-gator war, while Gurihiru's team-style fits the tales ("tails"?) of Lockjaw and Zabu. Colleen Coover draws the more "down-to-Earth" members of the critter collective, and does so with a style that resonates closely to this father of three who has read a Mark Teague-drawn book or dozen. Chris Sotomayor and his crew step up to the plate and deliver some of the richest, brightest colors in any comic I've read lately. Even the skirmish between reptile and amphibian is bright and airy, heightening the light-hearted mood set by the writers and the artists.

"Pet Avengers" is one of those concepts that has the ability to be enjoyable -- even fantastically liberating -- in its complex simplicity. It's a comic about animals we've all seen before, except this time, we get to enjoy the animals' perspectives. In keeping with the established pattern from the first miniseries, Lockjaw stays silent throughout his story, while we experience the thoughts and words of the other "hero-pets" as they happen.

This issue is a nice refresher for the upcoming "Pet Avengers" adventures in "Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers Unleashed." I just hope the creative team remembers to bring the heart it put into these stories.

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