Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review # 18: "Avengers - The Complete Collection by Geoff Johns - Volume 1"

For a while I was fully convinced that Geoff Johns was gradually being moved from series to series at DC to resuscitate all of its characters. He had a great run on Superman, he had what's considered the best run of the last 10 years on Green Lantern and - by all accounts - he's made Aquaman cool. Seriously! AQUAMAN! As the reigning king of DC, it's almost hard to believe that he worked at Marvel at all.

His big assignment in 2002 was the tough task of following Kurt Busiek on The Avengers. Busiek's run on the title may have been the greatest ever, as it seemed like he was able to gradually include every Avenger from the team's long history and use them perfectly. It ended with a more-than-a-year-long epic involving Kang that may very well have been the greatest Avengers story of all time. When Busiek left, getting Johns to take over seemed like a coup.

Ultimately, it was a huge disappointment.

Johns - who seems to really get the members of the Green Lantern Corps, The Flash, etc. - is kinda lost. While I like what he does with the borderline-obscure Scott Lang and the definitely-obscure Jack of Hearts, his main plots in this volume are weak. In the time between when I read this and when I started writing this review, I had almost completely forgotten everything that had happened and needed to flip through to jog my memory. In his first arc, national capitals disappear worldwide and the Avengers have to try to work as a global police force as they solve the problem. In the second, an increasingly stressed Thor - now ruling Asgard - tries to defend a cult worshiping him in Slovakia, which leads to a fight with Iron Man.

Now, I could expand on those two plots, but the truth is, it's pointless. There's really no depth beyond that. No intriguing thread. After Busiek wrapped story points together so well, culminating years of stories in "The Kang Dynasty," it's a major letdown. Johns would eventually pick up the pieces with "Red Zone" and close out fairly well with "The Search for She-Hulk," but this transition to a darker, more modern take on the team stumbles.

Perhaps the saving grace of this collection is the inclusion of his four-issue miniseries dedicated to The Vision. While the writing is strange at times, it plays to Johns strengths: a hero delving into his past who forges new alliances along the way. Reminds me of another green hero in a different universe.

For Johns, it's possible that rebuilding from the ground up is easier than continuing another writer's momentum. I won't slight his talent at all and the praise he gets is well-deserved. But this...

It just isn't that good.

Rating: 5.5/10

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