Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review # 52: "Avengers Assemble by Brian Michael Bendis"

Hoping to capitalize on the success of the film, "Avengers Assemble" was originally conceived as a series for younger readers but accessible to all. There's a greater emphasis on action, and less on character motivation. However, the result is a tale that is wonderfully old-school, and readers who enjoy classic material will likely find it to be the best Brian Michael Bendis Avengers story in years.

The series opens with the introduction of a brand new Zodiac, a villain team that's been around for decades and has, well... kinda sucked. I've read several issues involving the Zodiac, and the only appearance I can think of that was worth a damn was Libra's involvement in the incredible "Avengers Forever" miniseries by Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern and Carlos Pacheco. Damn, do I feel like reading that right now. Anyhow, the new Zodiac - far more powerful than any previous incarnation - begins stealing devices of power. In response, Captain America forms a new Avengers team to take them down made up of himself, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Incredible Hulk.

Now where have I seen that roster before?

The team is shocked to discover the Zodiac has swiped an Ultimate Nullifyer - capable of destroying sections of the universe - along with a cosmic cube. It's then that we meet the true villain of the series - Thanos, cube in hand. He's recruited the Zodiac and an alien army to do his dirty work as he plans to eradicate life on earth and restart it. Facing near-impossible odds, the Avengers get some help in the form of another upcoming movie tie-in... er... superteam, the NEW Guardians of the Galaxy.

What follows is a bombastic, non-stop barrage of action sequence after action sequence as the Avengers and Guardians tear through the opposition, stopping every now and then for some hilarious conversation fueled mainly by Rocket Raccoon. The work is reminiscent of the empty fun the Avengers represented in the 70s and early 80s, aided by a team makeup that - while it's familiar to many thanks to the film - is new and fresh. The characters tend to lean more on how they appear in the movie than how they appeared in previous series, but I'm more than willing to forgive that knowing what they're going for here.

Ultimately, "Avengers Assemble" does what it sets out to do perfectly: provide a jumping-on point for all ages. Hand this to a kid who loved the movie, and they'll love this too. Also, if you've only been exposed to the Avengers post-Disassembled, it's a great taste of what to expect if you go back in time with the catalogue.

Rating: 8/10

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