The Avengers are going weekly but will they survive the experience? Avengers writers Jim Zub, Mark Waid, and Al Ewing are about to find out! Plus, Old Man Hawkeye makes his solo Marvel debut starring in his very own mini-series! Read all about it this week in The Marvel Rundown!
Written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub
Illustrated by Pepe Larraz
Colored by David Curiel
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Alexander Jones: AJ, the Avengers are going weekly! With the beginning of No Surrender finally here it seems like Marvel is going full speed into 2018! What did you think of the debut of the weekly Avengers family event!
AJ Frost: Alex! Great to be back with you. I felt this was an odd issue in several ways. Firstly, it tries to juggle a monumental story with a more intimate one. Second, it crams an inordinate amount of characters and locales while also trying to remain narratively smooth. And third, from my perspective, it tries to present a dynamic cliffhanger that sort of backfires. With that being said, I enjoyed the book.
Alexander Jones: I could be a weird outlier on this, but these are the stories I want to see at some of the larger publishers. Comics like this take on some weird characters and unleash a grand set of story beats. This may not be the most original point to make about the issue… but man, is it fun seeing Avengers rescue other people and come together to fight crime and be heroes! Also, having Marvel stick to characters like Brother Voodoo and Synapse after all this time is refreshing for me. Getting the chance to see some of these more off-beat Avengers on a bigger stage is exciting–this is catnip for me AJ!
Frost: Haha! Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it–you probably enjoyed the comic more than I did. What I enjoyed most was the meta-references; the first Avenger we meet is Living Lightning, and he really is a third-tier superhero even within the extensive Marvel pantheon. What was fun about the writing around the character is that even he knows this fact and yet, even though he’s aware (and certainly the writers must be) of his arbitrariness, he still has a vital role to play, even if it is small.
Alexander Jones: Mixing together so many strange characters can make a comic like this difficult to relate too. Thankfully, the creative team hung a simple premise around the narrative while stitching the full cast together. If the tale was unwieldy or bloated, I would have hated this particular chapter. From here, the weekly shipping schedule and commitment to all of the current Avengers weirdos is what we both want and need from Marvel right now. I would love to see Captain America just be Captain America for a couple months here.
Frost: It was great seeing the mish-mashing of many characters, from the most well-known to the most obscure. There is something to be said about this storytelling model–and it’s nice that the creators put in a handy guide to help readers discern who is who!
Jones: Why was that at the back of the issue? That should have been front-and-center. Not everyone reading this story is going to be familiar with the very new U.S.Avengers team or the new members of Uncanny Avengers featured in the interiors. One of the aspects I really like about this story is that it seems to be a great way to jump into the current Marvel Universe and look at how the publishing is different from the films.
Frost: Agreed. It was nice that the character introductions weren’t too spread out, and everyone was clearly identified. Except for one instance, I thought this narrative device worked smoothly.
Jones: I am a fan of Pepe Larraz and everything the artist turned in on this story. There are a huge amount of characters on the screen and the writing staff is calling on a lot from the penciller who delivered a story that really moved. If the script from this issue carried something that I felt got moving very fast, the art didn’t stand in the way. There are tons of big, splashy character scenes. I never got confused at who each character was and kept getting excited to turn the page because I knew the next spread would look great. I always have fun picking out the absurd amount of heroes on the page in event stories like this and Avengers #675 brought me some childhood fun in that regard.
Frost: You’re definitely right: The art was on point throughout the issue. It’s nice when comic artists take the time to draw big splashy moments and fight scenes (ya know, for the kids) as well some more subtle, nuanced stuff for older readers. There is much to love here. Big action moments that are surprisingly uncluttered and visually different from each other. Nothing is rote–it’s almost like a Where’s Waldo of Marvel heroes old and new. Quite a treat.
Jones: What do you think about the idea of this title being weekly for a bit? The “No Surrender” storyline is temporarily replacing the major Avengers books and will just run weekly. Are you interested in this story enough to follow it weekly?
Frost: A weekly wait time between issues seems like an exciting prospect–the shipping schedule allows for at least some space to digest what happened in each issue while prepping for the next one.
Jones: Do you think this is a good idea on behalf of Marvel?
Frost: It’s a good idea that when you have a big story arc to get it into people’s hands sooner rather than later. From a technical standpoint, the issue presents all its beats well and in good form. Nothing revolutionary mind you, but really strong craftsmanship all around.
Again, I think where this issue suffers the most is the twist ending. I’m not going to give it away, but I felt that in the final pages that the writers were leading us to something really big, something crazy, and something bold. But when I read it–and this just may be me–it felt like the most anticlimactic thing there could be.
It was like the writers expected a **gasp! Oh, conquering hero** reaction. Instead, it’s more like a…”Uh, ok. That’s something, I s’pose.” Like, I didn’t feel anything. What did you think?
Jones: The ending is a massive WTF moment. However, that seems to be how the creative team intended to make the reader feel. Is it the greatest ending ever? No. There is plenty of time for the team to get to where they need to be in subsequent chapters. With so many comics shipping out every Wednesday I could see why this potentially wouldn’t be a big enough hook for you to come back to the shop next week.
Frost: Fair enough.
Jones: Final thoughts?
Frost: Ya know, this was a good issue–a solid issue–but after I stopped reading it, I moved onto other things. It didn’t captivate me in a visceral way nor did make me want to go out to read other Avengers adventures.
Jones: Avengers #675 may not be the most exciting debut ever but this is an interesting experiment Marvel is taking with the Avengers franchise and I’m excited to see where the publisher could be going next. I would suggest readers BORROW this issue and keep an eye on the series. What about you?
Frost: A STRONG BROWSE is my verdict on this one. There’s a lot to like, and the path of this arc may prove to be one of the most dynamic yet! On the other hand, there is still some room for improvement. Hopefully, that is remedied in the coming weeks.
Verdict: AJ and Alex both say BORROW!
Old Man Hawkeye #1
Written by Ethan Sacks
Illustrated by Marco Checchetto
Colored by Andres Mossa
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Alexander Jones: AJ! You thought you were done, but our work is never done! Marvel is priming a sequel to Old Man Logan starring… Hawkeye? What did you think about the publisher switching up protagonists for the action-packed debut of Old Man Hawkeye?
AJ Frost: A comics journalists job is never done Alex! Well… what have we here? Ya know, the trend of seeing “Old Man” versions of Marvel characters is something I feel is soon to be a worn-out trope. Until then, though, we are free to enjoy the adventures and exploits of various geriatric super people running around without supervision. I’ll admit that I’m not sure there was a need to see Hawkeye’s Golden Year adventures. On the other hand, what readers get here in the first part of this 12-issue “Hawkeye” story arc is a lot the potential for something really fun (and violent too!)
Jones: AJ, this installment brought me right back to the airplane that I read all of Old Man Logan in a decade ago! I was shocked at how true to form this story was and how much it resembled the original comic and mixed up some new elements. The only part of the issue that made me leary was Clint Barton’s meandering nature. This is something that I just finished complaining about, but I wish Barton would go on a journey that brought him towards all these huge set pieces instead of having him wander into these moments by accident, although the story is finally starting to head down that direction by introducing the villain.
Frost: Meandering is a good word for now. This issue doesn’t have any semblance of the plot, per se–it’s a teaser for a larger story. And that is totally legitimate–as a consumer product, I worry that this slow burn might alienate some readers.
Jones: This story really has everything but a plot stitching it together. There are some fantastic action moments and battles, the art is beautiful and there are so many clever ideas with mixing and matching Old Man Logan and The Marvel Universe together. If next issue hit the gas and made the story more of a cat-and-mouse narrative, this series has a wonderful future ahead of it. They are so close to getting the book on the right track but need to make a few adjustments.
Frost: It’s interesting that Marvel went for a prequel this time around, right?
Jones: The idea of this comic being a prequel isn’t the most exciting to me and I agree with you. The single worst sequence of the story was the super fan service oriented Old Man Logan and Hawkeye exposition moment. Seeing the two of them together act so flat and lifeless brought the pacing of the comic to a screeching halt for me. If you get the past that boring scene the rest of the comic is slow but features lots of teases and intriguing hints at what is to come in the future issues. Again, what you won’t find at the end of this story is a plot–I would suggest not looking for one and leaving happy.
Frost: You know, that’s probably a better way to look at this issue: don’t stick around for the plot, just enjoy the ride. Can I point out something that I thought was a tad bizarre? There’s an extremely violent sequence within the book. Lots of people die in pretty horrific and gory fashion. In the aftermath, Hawkeye utters a swear… which is censored! That’s an extremely weird editorial decision.
Jones: Not sure what to say about that one–what did you think of Marco Checchetto’s art?
Frost: The art throughout this book is quite stunning. A nice, broad art style–going back to the sequence of violence I was talking about, Checchetto has a wonderful way of mixing big pieces of sinew-destroying mayhem with quieter moments of solitude. This is pretty great stuff all around!
Jones: I have always felt that Checchetto has a very strong manga influence. His work here is nowhere near as gritty or insanely realistic as the original Steve McNiven mini, but seeing the creator get a chance to forge his own path and visual direction for the Hawkeye series is refreshing. Sometimes, Hawkeye can look a bit too “pretty” where Checchetto actually means to make him look tougher than anything else. He’s definitely a great choice for the project and I do think I will be enjoying his work as we start to get deeper into the comic and I can divorce my mind from the amazing Venom Dinosaur from the original title.
Frost: You are definitely more aware of his artwork than me, now that you mention it, the manga influence on the composition of the pages is pretty obvious.
Jones: What are your final thoughts? I have no problem recommending this even with the shortcomings, there are some crazy, wild ideas that go down in Ethan Sacks’ script–so long as the rest of the comic takes a more clear form and the plot has a chance at greatness. This is an impressive script from a relatively new creator.
Frost: Going for a STRONG BROWSE with this one. Again, this is definitely a solid beginning to a larger arc, but it didn’t totally win me over.
Jones: The issue is entertaining enough that I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and go for a BUY. This is more worthy of a follow-up to Old Man Logan than anything Marvel has published since the Secret Wars mini.
Verdict: AJ says BORROW, Alex says BUY
Next week Marvel’s taking it easy and so are we! Expect condensed thoughts on some of our favorite titles!