With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!
Publisher: Marvel Comics
*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*
Number of Issues: 36
First Issue: May 2007 ($2.99)
Last Issue: June 2010 ($2.99)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis (#1-20), Dan Slott (#21-36; with some assists from Christos Gage)
Artist: Frank Cho, Mark Bagley, Alex Maleev, Khoi Pham and others
After the events of Marvel’s Civil War, Iron Man established a new team of Avengers to safeguard the world. It’s led by Ms. Mavel and also includes Iron Man, the Wasp, the Sentry, Wonder Man, the Black Widow and Ares. Their first battle was against the Mole Man, his Moloids and his large monsters. During that battle, Iron Man’s armor/body was taken over by a much more powerful threat: Ultron! Appropriately enough, Hank Pym (the creator of Ultron) devised a “virus” (for lack of a more in-depth explanation) to take down his creation; it was delivered by a shrunken-down Ares invading Ultron’s body.
At Iron Man’s request, Spider-Woman was added to the team, even though Ms. Marvel wasn’t quite confident in this decision. But, regardless of their disagreement, the Avengers were ready to deal with the next upcoming world threat: an invasion by alien (Venom/Carnage-type) symbiotes accidentally set in motion by Doctor Doom’s computer system. After the invasion was eliminated, the team journeyed to Latveria to take Doom to task for his apparent “crimes”. This led to an interesting time-travel story involving Doom, Iron Man and the Sentry.
Issues 12-20 happen concurrently with the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion and are composed mostly of one-and-done stories that are not related to each other. We get solo stories of Elektra, Captain Marvel, Hank Pym and the creation of the Secret Warriors; all set amongst the back-drop of the Secret Invasion (some of them lifting scenes directly from other series).
Following the Secret Invasion, Hercules and Amadeus Cho were determined to start a new group of true Avengers together (they’re not overly fond of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers) to battle the Chaos Cascade causing … well, “chaotic” events throughout the world. They put together a team with the new Wasp (Hank Pym), U.S. Agent, the new Vision (Jonas), Stature (Scott Lang’s daughter), Jocasta and Jarvis. In order to stop the Chaos Cascade, the team had to battle Modred the Mystic (now calling himself the Darkhold) and Quicksilver (possessed by Cthon). Following their victory, Quicksilver joined the team, as well and they went on to be backed by the Global Reaction Agency for Mysterious Paranormal Activity (aka G.R.A.M.P.A. – 1st appeared in Amazing Fantasy vol. II #15). The team enjoyed much public affection after defeating plenty of threatening villains including A.I.M., Swarm, the Unspoken (a powerful, ancient Inhuman), Zzzax, Terminus and more. Their high approval-rating didn’t sit well with Norman Osborn, though, since he was trying to establish his team of Dark Avengers as the “premiere” super-hero team. This led to a tense meeting as both teams joined forces to defeat the Absorbing Man (powered by a Cosmic Cube).
Soon after the incident with the Dark Avengers (wherein Osborn stripped U.S. Agent of his rank), the Mighty Avengers fell apart after a battle against Loki revealed a darker side of Hank Pym. Finally, Hank Pym was left to take on his most dangerous creation, Ultron, with only the aid of Jocasta and two G.R.A.M.P.A. Agents (Ace and Black Jacquie). However, even Pym was not able to defeat Ultron and was saved by Jocasta who offered herself up to be “married” to Ultron in exchange for his willing banishment. Unwilling to dwell on these events, Pym quickly took off to join his fellow ex-Mighty Avengers in Oklahoma to help out during the events of Marvel’s Siege.
The Bad: This book is extremely disjointed and takes three different “directions” within just three years. Bendis’ original team has plenty of action and great artwork but doesn’t do much to develop much in the way of ongoing plots. The “tie-in” issues that follow are all only relevant to Marvel’s Secret Invasion and their purpose is lost if not read in tangent with (or without working knowledge of) that story. The final direction, involving Pym’s Avengers, is mostly free of interference by Marvel Events). The exception being important events that happen between #34 and #35 that are just briefly mentioned in passing (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I just figured I’d round out the explanation of all three ‘directions’).
the Good: The book was off to a decent start with a well-rounded team. It offered some instability with the Sentry’s questionable sanity, the beginnings of some intra-team romance, and a conflict between the team leader (Ms. Marvel) and Iron Man (who seemed to tread upon her leadership by making executive decisions without her consultation). The Secret Invasion “tie-in” books were cool reads, as they developed some important parts of that storyline BUT, when read within the confines of Mighty Avengers, they just don’t work and totally detract from the previous eleven issues. Finally, Dan Slott jumps in as writer with issue 21 and brings this title back to a real, ongoing series. He puts together a new team of heroes and pits them against some powerful foes. But, more importantly, he gives the series a sense of ongoing storyline. It’s clear that things are building towards something. “What?” – we’re not sure … but I really enjoy that sense of ongoing purpose with ongoing comic series. The art started off really strong with Frank Cho and Mark Bagley and ended in the less-flashy but still-capable hands of Khoi Pham.
The Verdict: The only parts of this series that I really enjoyed was Pym’s Avengers (21-36). Finally, after flailing around and being mired down in a one-sided love affair with Secret Invasion, the book was able to stand on its own as a fun Avengers series. The team took on some powerful foes and also developed Hank Pym’s character some more (much to the near non-development of the other characters – aside from U.S. Agent being stripped of his rank). Some of the Pym highlights include: taking on the new codename of Wasp (in memory of his dead ex-wife), developing an all-new Avengers base (that had pocket doorways all over the globe – and off it, too!) and being told by Eternity himself that he is Earth’s Scientist Supreme. Not bad for a guy that you can squish with your shoe! However, as fun as the final story direction was, it’s overshadowed by the previous twenty issues. Bendis used these mostly to develop the Secret Invasion storyline, much to the detriment of this series. So, let it be known that my final judgment is based on the series as a whole and does not reflect accurately on Slott’s later issues.
On Ebay: Avengers | Brian Bendis | Dan Slott | Frank Cho | Mark Bagley | Khoi Pham | Mighty Avengers | Avengers