Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness have assembled to kick-off Marvel’s Fresh Start initiative with Avengers #1. Thor, Captain America, and a reluctant Iron Man are back to protect the planet from whatever evil lies in wait. The tale begins with a flashback to Earth one million years ago. The mightiest heroes of this ancient time have gathered to defend the planet from a force so powerful that even Odin himself expects defeat, begging the question, who could this powerful foe be and how does it relate to the present day Avengers?
Ed McGuinness and colorist David Curiel create a bold and playful aesthetic, opening the series with a splash page of Odin, Lady Phoenix, Black Panther, Iron Fist, Starbrand, The Spirit of Vengeance and Agamotto. This arrangement of characters draws an immediate mirror to the issues cover art; where Odin is in the place of Thor, Lady Phoenix for Carol Danvers, Iron Fist for Captain America, Starbrand for She-Hulk, and Agamotto for Doctor Strange. An epic fight appears forthcoming, with Starbrand’s muscles flexing, Iron Fist’s face showing bewilderment, and Odin exuding a warriors ferocity while toasting their potential demise. Cory Petit’s lettering of Odin brings out his Norse mythological roots and gives his words regal stature compared to the stereotypical lettering of other heroes.
Jason Aaron’s story continues with our ancient heroes discussing the events leading up to battle and what may follow. We then flashforward to present day and learn of the whereabouts of various superheroes. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America are meeting up to discuss the rebooting of the Avengers. In the meantime, Black Panther and Doctor Strange are teamed up for a mystical investigation involving the Earth’s core, Ghost Rider is experiencing car trouble, She-Hulk is minding her business in Manhattan, and Carol Danvers is assisting the Planetary Defense Agency with a cosmic abnormality. Each of these heroes expresses a hint of coming danger.
The present-day Avengers seem unorganized and ill-prepared. Doctor Strange straddles alongside T’Challa’s in his mysterious investigation, as he tells him the Avengers are no more. And up to this point, T’Challa is right. There is no Avenger headquarters with fancy screens or com units to link each of them to real-time threat briefings. Only Captain America, Thor and Iron Man are ready for teamwork. Aaron manages to complete the dizzying task of introducing each of our Avengers while creating a cohesive impression of urgency and tension as they are scattered around the Earth.
Aaron sets the stakes high from the beginning, wetting our appetite to learn more about Odin’s Avengers and their battle for the planet. For longtime fans of Marvel, seeing glimpses of classic characters like Agamotto is a treat. The art draws you into the unknown, providing a feeling of discovery, but almost no motion. Aaron seems to be creating a sense of gravity that is pulling our heroes, both past and present, together against a threat of cosmic proportions.
Avengers #1 has all the necessary elements for a good team up comic. It isn’t a home run hit, but appears to be gradually loading the bases for things to come.