REVIEW: All-New All-Different Avengers #5

Mark Waid deserves a medal for the job he’s taken on in this Avengers title. This is Marvel’s premiere team, the book that gets the most eyes on it month in and month out. The room for error is minimal and the pressure in this rising P.C. culture is stifling. So what is a writer to do when any false move can be misconstrued as racial or sexual bias? The answer is simple. You go old school.You remove the need for any outside commentary by putting a traitor in the team’s ranks. Someone is undermining the team’s ability to effectively work as a unit, and piece by piece we watch as the Avengers fall apart. It’s no big mystery who is pulling the strings, that bit of information is put right out on front street from the word go. It’s Vision and he’s a giant douche nozzle.

Waid is fighting tooth and nail to keep this team from imploding on the page. It’s exhausting just watching this story unfold at how many times the writing comes off feeling like the writer is tap dancing on a land mine. There are so many ways to cut this book in the eyes of fans that could set off protest. Captain America is still Sam Wilson, Thor is still a woman, the quota of ethnically based heroes has taken center stage… all of it feels forced. It’s like the editorial team at Marvel has created this book just to point any accusers of racial or gender bias to it and say “Hey look! We have a team that has blacks, whites, and Hispanics on it! Didn’t you see the teenage Muslim girl? We’re not gender stereotyping! We’re not racists!” It’s here that the book falls apart. When you look strictly at the story and remove all of the P.C. window dressing, your left with a team that doesn’t deserve to be Avengers. This is the B-Squad. Plain and simple.This is a modern-day West Coast Avengers if I ever saw one. The entire team is unskilled, unbalanced, and unlikable. Believe me I tried. I want this book to work… but I just can’t do it. The fault doesn’t fall with the creators of this book. Mark Waid, Muhmud Asrar, and the rest have put out a quality comic. There is nothing wrong with the execution. The problem begins and ends with the character’s themselves.

Sam Wilson comes off as abrasive. To the point that it’s an embarrassment that he is holding the shield when he kicks Ms. Marvel and Nova off of the team. Why? Because no one could be bothered to train these young heroes. Isn’t that something that Captain America would make a priority? I know that back in the day Steve Rodgers and Hawkeye would get in each other’s faces over who was the best leader, but here we have a fully trained Sam Wilson berating a teenage girl for being a liability on the battlefield. His solution? Kick her off the team!
The rest of the team is no better. Iron Man is stiff and uncaring, Thor is a non factor, Spider-Man is keeping his mouth shut as he fears any comment will get him the boot as well. This is a team on edge. Part of that tension comes from the evil game of chess Vision is playing with the team. The robotic Avenger is moving around in the shadows moving his teammates like pawns, weakening the team for some sort of attack that we are yet to see.

I was so thankful when this read came to an end. I couldn’t get invested in the story, every time I thought that Waid had given me an “in” to like a member of the cast it was quickly snatched away within a few pages and I was reminded that this new team is a hot steaming mess.There were two moments in this issue that gave me hope that there might be life in this title. Sam Wilson and the budding romance with Thor was a potential bright spot, the other being the sheer excitement that Ms. Marvel has for being an Avenger. She is a kid living her dream and her attitude is infectious. Too bad it was killed just pages later as she is tricked by Vision and kicked off the team. I hope that the creative team can be given the room they need to maneuver this book into a position that will get readers invested. Right now though… This is better left on the shelf.

Story: Mark Waid
Art: Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel

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