Welcome back to the Rundown Roundtable! This week, George Carmona 3rd, Cy Beltran, Lucía Iannone, and D. Morris will be running through a bevy of new number ones, highlighting Marvel Voices: Avengers #1, Sentry #1, and Thunderbolts #1. These reviews contain MILD SPOILERS, so beware if you’re spoiler-averse!

What did you think of this week’s latest Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Marvel Voices: Avengers #1

Marvel Voices: Avengers #1

Introduction by David Betancourt
Stories by Utkarsh Ambudkar, Justina Ireland, Jason Concepcion, and Robbie Thompson
Pencils & Inks by Tadam Gyadu, Karen S. Darboe, Moisés Hidalgo, Luciano Vecchio, Sid Kotian, and Adriano Di Benedetto
Colors by Michael Bartolo, Ceci De La Cruz, Luciano Vecchio, Bryan Valenza, and Juancho Velez
Ancillary Material by Angélique Roché
Letters by VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover by Taurin Clarke

THE BEAT: What are our initial thoughts on Marvel Voices: Avengers #1?

CY BELTRAN: As with all of these Voices one-shots, I enjoyed this, but it didn’t stand out too much. I always appreciate the more down-to-earth approach the stories tend to have and the huge focus on character over anything else, but otherwise this was just alright for me. 

GEORGE CARMONA 3rd: I’ve enjoyed the Voices series for the most part, this issue was a mixed bag. I could have done without the Cap and Iron Man stories, but the highlight was the Photon story, love me some Monica.

LUCÍA IANNONE: I thought this was a nice issue overall, though the limited page count allotted for these stories is always going to be difficult, especially for newer voices who may not have a ton of experience writing for comics. I always wish these stories were longer! My favorites were the Monica story and the Iron Man story.

D. MORRIS: I thought this was fine. I understand these are out of continuity but as someone reading Avengers Inc., it took some adjusting given what’s going on in that book. The Monica Rambeau story was cute (I hope she calls her sister). I’m disappointed that the Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider story didn’t do more. My biggest complaint was that a lot of this art looked too similar for my tastes. That said, I’d like to see where artists like Karen Darboe and Sid Kotian go from here.

CB: I had that same reaction, D. It took me a second to adjust and realize that this wasn’t connected to that mini. And you make a great point, Lucia, in that I think newer writers are a bit hamstrung by the length of these stories, which is very clear in this issue. I like what some of these writers were attempting to do, like with the Monica story, but the execution wasn’t always there. Darboe’s art was great there, especially when she and Ceci De La Cruz shifted to that more stylized 80s look.

GC3: I think that the short story format was the strength of the Photon piece. We got to see her do her thing, have fun and even get a bit of nostalgia with the Thor flashback. And yes the art was a perfect match for that story with the energetic linework and Manga styling.  

DM: Seeing Thor in the 80s armor and Monica with the swishy arm capes was a lot of fun.

LI: I haven’t been reading Avengers Inc. (oops!) so the Iron Man one didn’t bother me at all. And yeah, I think out of all of the stories the Monica one made the best use of the short story format. Still, the Captain America one especially felt rushed because of it—and I think it could’ve been much better with some more breathing room. I do wish these teams got more space to play with, but maybe that’s seen as a gamble? 

DM: The Cap one was kind of fun but felt like the umpteenth take on Marvels kind of storytelling. I’m not against telling people on the streets witnessing superheroes. Marvels and Astro City are two of my favorites. I wish I knew more about the person narrating this story though. There’s a lot you can accomplish in a short story where it’s a normal person witnessing superheroes but so much space focused on Cap fighting Red Skull. It would have been great to understand more about our narrator Marta.

LI: Totally agree, D. I was kind of surprised to find Robbie Thompson going for such well-tread ground—it might be wishful thinking, but there’s a part of me that wonders what this story would’ve looked like with two extra pages that further characterized Marta, the main character who doesn’t even get a last name. 

CB: I agree with all of the above and wanna add that while we didn’t discuss it, I definitely enjoyed the ancillary extras/interviews in between the stories. Always great to learn more about how people get into working in comics, especially when they have something unique to bring to the table (plus, it’s Al Ewing). Otherwise, this was a BROWSE for me. Fine stuff, but nothing that blew my mind.

GC3: Yeah the double-page spread was nice to look at but outside of that and the Photon story this is a BROWSE for me.

LI: It’s also going to be a BROWSE for me. Loved the Al Ewing interview too.

DM: Definite BROWSE for me, even for an anthology there was nothing that made me go “Wow, this is a keeper!”.

Sentry #1

The Sentry #1

Writer: Jason Loo
Artist: Luigi Zagaria
Color Artist: Arthur Hesli
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Ben Harvey

DM: The Sentry is a concept that feels particularly suited for Marvel; a superhero that’s completely at odds with his powers and himself. The twist on that is, the Sentry has the power of a god and his worst enemy is literally himself, The Void. He’s also addicted to his powers. Since the initial mini-series though, no one has really known what to do with this concept. This first issue is not an exception. Dividing the Sentry’s powers into different individuals, including yawn a psychopath, doesn’t add anything to that concept. It doesn’t help the art for this is really bland.

LI: This one didn’t really stand out much to me. The tone was dour, none of the characters seemed to like each other or wanted to cooperate with each other for some weird reason or another, and as someone who isn’t overly familiar with The Sentry conceptually, I wasn’t entirely convinced why he (or some version of him) needed to come back.

GC3: I wasn’t sure what this was, it seemed more like a Jessica Jones and Misty Knight book to me which can be fun but wasn’t fully there for me. And this Highlander concept of the new characters was not interesting. 

CB: Yeah, I had a good time with some of the banter between Jessica and Misty, but otherwise this was a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve never really been a fan of the Sentry to begin with, so it was gonna be a hard sell anyways, but this really took its time in getting going. I did actually enjoy the bits with Mallory Gibbs, one of the new hosts of the Sentry, and I kind of wish we had spent the entire issue with her. 

LI: Definitely agree re: Mallory. If it were me, I would’ve started the story with her and kept the focus on her with occasional detours to the other characters.

DM: I don’t hate her but the audience spends so little time with her. All we know about her is she has cerebral palsy, and ClikClok. She gets her powers, saves people, and then cries on the moon. After Thanos last month, I think I’m sensing a trend in Marvel books where writers think it’s more interesting to spend time time setting up a bland mystery instead of with leads who should grab our interest in issue 1.

LI: I think we’ve all wanted to cry on the moon at some time or another, though…right? 

DM: No comment.

CB: I would love to cry on the moon (though, only if we were in the Blue Area…).

GC3: I was interested in her at work more than her as a powered person. Let’s see if she can shake these powers and her boss gives her better reporting assignments.  

LI: In all seriousness, though, what I really want to see is Mallory’s CP interacting with her powers. And the reporter beat.

DM: I think Lucia has a great point. The Sentry is a concept rooted in a real world experience, addiction. Having those powers now rooted in an individual who is differently able would be a unique spin on a real world experience. Also the reporting aspect puts her in a long line of superhero/journalists.

CB: 100% agree with both of you there. I’m hoping that moving forward, the series leans more into that focus on Mallory and grapples with how her CP interacts with her life and  powers, though I’m not especially hopeful after this issue. If I had to rate this, it’d most likely be a WEAK BROWSE, if only for Mallory’s story. 

LI: It’s a WEAK BROWSE for me, but I’ll be on the lookout for improvements.

GC3: I don’t mind the superhero/report trope, but maybe we skip that with her and have her shadow Ben Urich. Maybe if issue 2 picks up some steam I’ll stick around but for now, BROWSE.

DM: This is a hard SKIP for me. I might touch in later but that said, I really don’t need another Kid Miracleman retread for a bad guy which this seems to be setting up.

Thunderbolts #1

Thunderbolts #1

Writers: Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Artist: Geraldo Borges
Color Artist: Arthur Hesli
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson

LI: This one goes hard as hell. If we’re going to go “fuck this guy in particular,” I’m all for that guy being Red Skull. The action is a lot more engaging than I was expecting—and I really enjoyed it, even as someone for whom action is hardly ever grabbing. 

CB: I’ve gotta admit, I didn’t have high expectations for this going in based on what looked like clear MCU synergy (and I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this creative team), but I honestly rocked with it. It went way better than I expected and had some crazy twists I didn’t see coming at all. I think this might be a sleeper hit. Also, they beat the shit out of some Nazis and I’m always here for that.

DM: Of the three I read this week, this was the most fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect myself but I liked this going hard on the Marvel spy-fi. The dialogue was little too ironic and “cool” for my liking but Geraldo Borges and Arthur Helsi’s made up for it. The action in this issue was really kinetic. I liked the update to the Golden Age character The Destroyer with Sharon Carter taking up that mantle. Like Cy, seeing the cast punch (or laser blast) Nazis was satisfying. Also more Red Guardian please!

GC3: For a follow-up of that meh Captain America Century storyline, this was solid. I wasn’t sure what the connection was going to be to previous Thunderbolts teams but this mixed bag of killer heroes works. This was my favorite of the three we’ve talked about, with its twist on the pre-active superhero team.  

CB: Yeah, though the art swung a bit house-style, I thought Borges and Helsi were a solid fit for this, with some pretty great wide-screen action. Also, the stylistic choice by Joe Sabino to use black-out instead of grawlix for swears was wicked rad. I’m not sure if that was a script choice or just Sabino matching the spy-tone of the book, but I was so here for it.

LI: Right??? It felt like a “redacted CIA document” vibe. So cool.

CB: I’m not caught up on that recent Cap story, but was this heavily informed by it? I’m not sure if we wanna mention the big spoiler at the end of this issue, but did this have anything to do with what Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly just finished?

LI: I’m also not caught up, but it didn’t feel like a huge twist to me. Like yeah, it’s a Marvel comic, of course [REDACTED] is going to happen!

DM: As someone who didn’t read that run, I didn’t feel too lost reading this. This felt like it’s own thing. If you don’t know what the Outer Circle was you were okay. If you did, it was a fun nod. As for the last page, it seemed in line with everything discussed about [REDACTED] in this issue. Curious what it’s going to set up.

GC3: I did read most of that Cap run and it had an amazing premise but the story dragged a bit too long and just felt like it was forced. But this here is a great pickup from that last series and more, it gives more depth and a sense of mission to Bucky and Sharon.  

CB: Ahh ok, that’s great to know. I thought it worked swell on its own, but I appreciate knowing I didn’t come in missing as much as I was worried I had.

LI: Real talk, I didn’t know anything about this particular Baroness, and I felt like I knew everything I needed to.

DM: Red Skull as an alt-right podcaster was from the Ta-Nehisi Coates run right?

CB: I am also behind on Coates’ Cap run, but I would assume that’s the case? Also, I’ll second that though on the Baroness, Lucia. Last I’d heard of her was way back in Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors…. right? This was very different from that, but I didn’t mind the new characterization.

GC3: Solid story, great characterizations, BUY.

LI: Absolutely a STRONG BROWSE. I think Sharon Carton’s new look is going to haunt me in my dreams!

DM: Gonna echo Lucía and say a STRONG BROWSE. I might wait for the trade here but I think it would be worth the wait. Also I suspect if this book takes off, there will be cosplay of Sharon Carter’s Destroyer outfit. It’s a great design!

CB: I think this is also a BUY for me honestly. I need to at least check out the next issue, otherwise the cliffhanger is gonna drive me crazy (I can’t be patient enough to trade wait). Great chat everyone, see ya next time!

Next week: Spider-Gwen: Smash #1 and Moon Knight #30