It started with two men. It started with an idea.
This collects the first six issues, I think, of a 2013 reimagining of the Avengers. This book starts with the Avengers team from the movies: Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye & Thor. It’s a very smart move given where the book is going because our team faces off with a new villain called Ex Nihilo and his sidekicks. They, in point of fact, were one of the strongest elements of the book; I liked the villains’ characters and their interactions with each other. Anyway, this all-star Avengers team is immediately defeated and captured, with only Cap sent home with his tail between his legs. But this is just the set-up; Tony and Steve have previously come up with this idea of just blowing the Avengers roster up to an insane degree and Steve puts out the call and everyone from Wolverine to Spider-Woman to more than a couple of “WHO are these guys?” characters comes running. The first issue of the series which revolves around the small Avengers team getting trounced interspersed with flashbacks to Steve & Tony coming to the conclusion that they may have to “go large” one day over the course of a late night conversation. And it’s easily the best. It ends with that full page-hero shot of Cap standing tall with the panel just packed behind him with the new Avengers roster and it’s an epic moment. The comic trails off from there. Presumably the idea is that each issue of the comic features a large emblem representing all the new Avengers with the ones actually present in that issue highlighted, which is a cool idea, but the problem with these huge rosters is always the same. Wolverine is a great case in point; I love the character, didn’t know he was going to be in the new roster in this trade, got super-excited when I saw him in that big hero shot at the end of issue one. Guess what? You see him in the background of maybe two other panels in the whole book. Presumably as the comic went on, it made room for all of these characters to have their moment in the sun, but that doesn’t really help me now, does it? I suppose the premise comes with its built in strengths (a large cast of characters to pull from; the chance to create some new chemistry; etc.) and its flaws (a lot of characters get sidelined; hard to keep everyone in character; etc.). I enjoyed the issue that focused on flashbacks to the origin story of this series’ Smasher, a character I’m not really familiar with; the character here is a small-town farmgirl who yearns to do something greater with her life and then gets the chance. It’s a standard character, I guess, but it was well-executed. And a nice cliffhanger with a mysterious new character arriving just in time to cryptically murmur “the great white event” (I’m assuming he wasn’t talking about the Trump Presidency) and then the final shot reveals a strange wave of white static sweeping toward Avengers HQ. I enjoyed this trade just fine; it’s not great, but it’s fine and it’s a decent premise. Execution is decidedly patchy already though; probably won’t keep reading. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – the Avengers go galactic with a new series & a great premise; but the large cast of characters is sloppily handled and this probably won’t hook you into reading more in this series. 2 ½ stars.