The semi-unofficial branch of the Avengers are taking the tiniest of brakes this issue. Who can really blame them? They’ve been running from one Marvel special cross-over event to another for over a year now. They been fighting monsters in Japan and dark forces in New York, they all need time to kick back and reassess their lives and careers. All except for Johnny Storm; he has to do taxes.
I like how Jim Zub (Wayward, Zombies Assemble) and Sean Izaakse (Pathfinder, Secret Empire) break the team down into small groups of friends to go over their troubles, their relationships and occasionally stop crime. The groups make sense in terms of who is likely to hang out with whom and what they want to figure out about themselves. These are friends who can talk to each other about the big and small stuff in their lives.
Beast and Wonderman make a natural pairing as they both were on the Avengers and buddies throughout the Bronze Age run of the series. They have fought Kangs and Ultron together. So when they reassess how directionless their lives have been without the Avengers, it makes sense that they’d grab some brews and hang.
Similarly, while Wasp (Janet, not Nadia) and Rogue don’t have a long history together, they have shared similar experiences: both have been involved with real jerks, both have led the Avengers through turbulent times and both know that the Avengers are about more than membership cards and battle cries. It doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting to convince Rogue of taking on leading the team again, especially when given her past successes.
Then comes the Human Torch, who discovers that with the disappearance of Reed, Sue, Franklin and Valeria, he is the sole heir of the Richard’s fortune. And with that comes the responsibility of handing all that money. Johnny, typically, doesn’t do responsibility well. (Which brings me to an idea I’ve had for a Torch solo series ever since FF # 17 – where Peter Parker learn the hazards of being the roomy with a trans-galactic, inter-dimensional playboy – always remember which closet leads to the Negative Zone. The Torch goes about his Kardashian/Hilton/celebrity lifestyle but is always running late to his super-heroing because he has to stop fights between a Skrull princess and a Kronan heiress… But I digress…)
Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur) does a great job with the color work throughout the issue. Each pairing has their own color scheme, so it easy to follow the story as it shifts from one group of characters to another. And the team as a whole gets a different color scheme. Somehow, all of these palettes work with each other instead of being a discordant mess.
If you’ve been curious about the Avengers (or at least this version), this issue is a good starting point. You get a good mix of character development and their histories, but doled out in manageable amounts and a little action to boot. If you aren’t sure who the characters are and how they belong together, this issue will set you up pretty well for the future. If you are conversant with the current state of the various Avenger teams, this is a nice break from world-ending battles.
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles