Marvel’s latest Avengers book is a shining example of how we are no longer viewed as fans but now pieces of a pie chart that denotes demographics.
I’ve written this review once already, it had so much venom in it that there was no way it would be productive to publish. I had to take some time to cool off; calm myself and approach this the right way. I will warn you, this is going to take a minute, so if you were hoping that this would be short and sweet … sorry.
I want to make it clear that I do not blame this comic or the creative staff. The writer/artist/etc. are guilt-free on this one. I blame Marvel’s editorial. There is no reason for this book to exist. I am going to try to explain this as best I can without collapsing into childish whining and name calling.
This entire series has the look and feel of being unnecessary. Not since the days of Avengers: West Coast has an Avengers title struggled for relevancy right out of the gate. Who is this comic built for? Hardcore Avengers fans are being inundated with series after series. This is just a sample, I’m sure I missed a few:
Avenger-based Solo Titles
Unstoppable Wasp (New Series)
Invincible Iron Man
Infamous Iron Man
Sam Wilson: Captain America
Steve Rodgers: Captain America
Hulk (New Series)
Totally Awesome Hulk
Mighty Captain Marvel (soon to be released)
Team Books —-
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: Avengers
All-New, All Different Avengers -Recently Canceled
A-Force – Recently Canceled
New Avengers- (Re-launched as U.S. Avengers) Why do we need this comic? It doesn’t have one single “real” Avenger on the team. I mean we only get second-rate, knock-off characters. Do the Avengers math:
Iron Patriot = Iron Man (But it’s different because it’s a girl!)
Enigma = The Vision (But it’s different because it’s a girl!)
Red Hulk = The Hulk (But he is RED)
Danielle Cage = Captain America (But it’s different because it’s a girl!)
It would be one thing if the characters of this title were just trying to play the proverbial roles of their respected counterparts, but Marvel isn’t happy until their current design is so close to the original that they should sue themselves for copyright infringement. The only other members on the team are New Mutants turned some-how Avengers, Sunspot and Cannonball. (Why? Because no one wants them in the X-universe anymore and X-Force hasn’t been an option since Rob Liefeld was on the book)
… I almost forgot Squirrel Girl. Because …why?
We go through the painful motions of watching each character give a televised testimonial on why they wanted to be an Avenger, and then each character in-turn talks about how great America is. This is the beginning of the pandering. This is pandering 2017. This is a large order of pancakes with a giant side order of pandering. It’s panderpolooza!
U.S. Avengers unofficial title should be Avengers: The Minority Version. At first glance this roster has the look and feel of a Marvel editor taking a list of unused Marvel properties and entering them into random.org, mixing the list up a few times and just clicking and plastering the first seven or eight entries into a script. I’ve never seen a more slap dash approach to putting a roster together.
Then I read the book and I started to feel my face turn redder than the Hulk with embarrassment and anger. Marvel has built a comic that is trying to pander to every race and minority; failing on every front. Allow me to expound my opinion.
Two female characters identify as lesbian. Which in itself is fine, I have no problem with members of the LGBTQ community having heroes and characters as part of ANY title; But here in U.S. Avengers? This detail is dropped in two lines and has absolutely nothing to do with the character’s motivations or actions. It’s just mentioned off-hand and then the comic moves on. Why? Why does a character’s sexuality become relevant to the narrative if it does nothing to move the story forward?
The LGBTQ community shouldn’t embrace this title; it should be offended by the cut and paste approach that Marvel continues to take with gay characters. This is the same lopsided marketing ploy that the house of ideas used in the 70’s with Black and Asian characters. The sheer fact that a character was a different color or race was supposed to be enough to define that character. Then the rest of the character was fleshed out in sad stereotypes. Don’t believe me? Go read a Luke Cage comic from 1977 and tell me how progressive Marvel was.
This is just sad. The selling point for this title isn’t the call to arms for a team that can fight evil or injustice. It isn’t even about a group of individuals coming together to learn teamwork. It’s not even an insight into the personal struggles of what it takes to be heroes at such a high level; any of that would make sense. Nope, we get this team, whose sole selling point is that they as a team are all different and isn’t that cool?
I want characterization! I want a reason to believe that this ragtag group is worthy of calling themselves Avengers.
You remember the Avengers right? Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Why should this team even be held up in comparison?
If you were to believe the current Marvel hype around this title then it would sound a little something like this;
Well the team leader is Robert De Costa (Sunspot) and he is Latino. This should appeal to our Spanish demographic. Then we have a couple of lesbians, and that should make the LGBTQ happy. Then we have a couple of vanilla white guys for the status quo in Cannonball and the guy who turns into the Red Hulk, oh and let’s not forget that we really went out on a limb with Danielle Cage. She is a woman AND she’s black! Aren’t we so progressive?
No Marvel, you are not. All of these differences should lead to good storylines. It should lead to conflict and drama. These characters should be immersed in their respective cultures and lifestyles, bringing together a storyline that is more human than anything available in comics today. Instead these differences are used a simple marketing tools and left by the wayside in hopes that the readers are simple-minded enough to not require a deeper narrative.
If a character’s background or ethnic heritage is so important then lead with it! Tell me why this has been brought to my attention as a reader. If a character’s sexuality is important enough to mention then show me that character living their daily life with that element being a device that moves the plot forward.
But what can you really expect from a title where the first villain this team faces is a floating helicarrier with a volcano on top? How much depth should we expect from a team that has Squirrel Girl fly in with a squadron of flying squirrels? (BTW Marvel goes out of its way to even pander to the Canadians with Squirrel Girl identifying her nationality… again I ask why?) This book sucks. It sucks hard.
Not only do we have to deal with the entire mess that I have listed above, but we are also treated to Marvel’s marketing department trying to rip off the fans with this premiere issue.
U.S. Avengers was published with 54 variant covers. One for each of the 50 states, with the other for going to Puerto Rico, the District of Colombia (isn’t that a state?), Canada and Britain (do we own them too?)
It will cost the average fan well over $200 dollars to put together the entire set. Shame on you Marvel! Shame on you! You greedy pricks haven’t bent the fan base over enough with this terrible Avengers book? Now you want to rape our wallets too? SHAME ON YOU!
I have no sympathy for anyone that runs out and buys all of these variant covers. If you can’t read this book and tell straight away that this is a certified stinker, then you deserve to be robbed at the register. There will never come a day where your North Dakota variant will ever be worth more than your Arkansas variant.
There is one good thing you can do if you do buy all the variants. Take those 54 comics, put them in a pile in your yard, douse them with lighter fluid and roast marshmallows over the flames, because that is the ONLY way you are going to get ANY entertainment from this book.
Final Score: ½ Star
Story: Al Ewing
Art: Paco Medina
Inks: Juan Vlasco
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letters: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos