Friday, February 12, 2016

CBR Avengers Assemble

When Marvel decided to make a movie based on Guardians of the Galaxy, they decided now was a good time as any to bring back the team to the comics as well.

The question is... did they chose the right writer for the job?...

Hooked on a Feeling for more Guardians of the Galaxy reviews:

Comic title: Avengers Assemble by Brian Michael Bendis also known Avengers Assemble Vol. 1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis 
Drawn by Mark Bagley

Published by Marvel Comics 
From 2013
Lineup MCU/Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy
Format: Trade paperback collecting Avengers Assemble issues #1-8.

To bring the Guardians of the Galaxy back in the funny pages on time for the eventual live action adaptation, Marvel Comics cleverly disguised a tie-in to the Avengers movie to both bring some fans of the movies over the comics... while introducing them to those would be heroes that were never huge despite the positive acclaimed success of Dan Abnett's Guardians of the Galaxy.

It's easy to say the mission is accomplished. The Guardians are now both huge on the big screen and in comics. They established themselves in the public's consciousness. And there are probably a half dozen ongoing books of the characters at the moment. They're getting as huge as the X-Men became back in the late 80s/early 90s!

But before we move onto the current comics, there was something I wanted to review beforehand.

Avengers Assemble was one of the lesser "events" Marvel made in 2012. And by lesser I mean it wasn't a proper crossover and was contained to this single series. Its main objective was to bring the Guardians of the Galaxy to the forefront.

Launched in March 2012, Avengers Assemble became as a mini-series but it turned into an ongoing series. The idea at first was to have a book featuring the Avengers cast from the live action films. But after this first arc it became a spotlight series rotating several lesser popular Avengers on all kinds of different mission. It would be published until March 2014.
I'm only going to review the original first story arc, the first 8 issues written by Brian Michael Bendis which are reprinted in this fairly long 170-page trade paperback.

Our story begins on Earth. These mysterious Zodiac-inspired enemies are seen causing havoc all over the world. And who is better suited to deal with such a dangerous threat looming on Earth than the Earth's Mightiest Heroes?

Our heroes soon discover that the mad Titan, Thanos, is behind this attack! Thanos is after Earth once more.

They're forced to split up, since they need to keep the situation contained. And thus only Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye can save the day!

To stop Thanos, they must chase after the Cosmic Cube on the other side of the galaxy. Thankfully they are able to team up with the ones and only Guardians of the Galaxy! Who?

You know, Peter Quill/Star-Lord's unlikely band of misfits! But didn't Star-Lord and Thanos get trapped in the Cancerverse during the Thanos Imperative? A quick mention is the only answer we ever receive...

It's now up to the combined forces of the Avengers and the Guardians to save the entire universe!

Strangely enough, the only real thing that bothered me was the excuse Bendis came up with to cut down the larger roster of Avengers at the beginning, making up a silly reason why the team is not joined by the rest of the other heroes.

Why try making it the same team since the characters are not even similar to the ones from the films. I mean here we have a calm Hulk that rarely if ever reverts back to being Bruce Banner, but changes like this are to be expected.

Brian Bendis is mostly known for his work on long-running series such as Ultimate Spider-man and the great current wave of X-Men titles. He also made a name for himself handling various of Marvel's most successful "events" from House of M to Secret Invasion. But I felt Bendis wasn't really on top of his game here.

The story tries too much but it sort of feel rushed and lackluster. Bendis knew the important landmark points his story had to go through to place the characters, etc., rounding up the right team reducing the characters to the film cast. The story had to involve the Guardians set to appear in a movie. Using the Cosmic Cube as framing narrative like the current "Phase 1" films. Using Thanos as the main villains as hinted through the films.

It's a quite action-packed story, if fairly basic. It brought a lot of humor and quips just like the fun Marvel Studios films.

If anything it works as a great entry point to the Marvel Comics Universe if you like the current movies.

This was Bendis' first big cosmic storyline, tying various characters from different corners of the comics.

It's not as much driven by dialogues as your typical Bendis story.

There's allusions to various elements that are sure to make it in one of their films any time soon. Such as the Badoon and the Eternals.

But it felt closer to a 90s comic than a modern series. There's some interesting ideas like Gamora flirting with Thor. Drax and Hulk finally coming head to head. There was maybe too much focus on gritty violence for my taste. A strangely high number of heroes acting not-so-heroic, making threats and killing off enemies. Rocket Raccoon developed here his fascinating taste for murdering people violently left and right. Black Widow torturing people felt really odd considering the titles these character come from (or the tone of the movie-verse). There's some fun changes such as Iron Man making wisecracks as often as Spider-man here, like in the films.

The art felt kind of rushed, which is part of what really ruined the book for me. Mark Bagley on art duties did the bare minimum. His more crowded scenes can be decent and packed with details, but otherwise it's just kind of messy. And the colors didn't help.

The idea with this book was to offer a great starting point into the comics universe continuity using the cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Overall, Avengers Assemble was decent, if a bit confusing at times.

The problem is just that it wasn't a particularly good book, when you get down to it.

At the very least it would help launch a new ongoing series for the Guardians, to tie into the then-upcoming film at the time. It was Bendis' first experience with the Guardians of the Galaxy, he would then go on to write the main regular ongoing title. We kinda lose some of Keith Giffen and Dan Abnett's wry sarcastic tone and humor in the process.

I can picture part of this series serving as basis for the upcoming Avengers 3, or as they will call the film, "Infinity War ". The story works nicely all these different characters together, bringing the Earth-bound Avengers heroes to head with the Guardians.

All in all, Check it Out if you like some of the characters here, but it's not that essential. The real purpose being to bridge Dan Abnett's run on the GotG with Bendis' later series.

After these first 8 issues, Kelly Sue DeConnick and later Stefano Caselli would take over the series.

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Howards!

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