Wow, Marvel really stepped up their campaign to destroy me this week, releasing Enter The Heroic Age, Heroic Age: Age Of Heroes, and Heroic Age magazine all in one week, making the accounts pull a frustrating and confusing experience (having the Heroic Age banner on Avengers, Atlas, and Deadpool, not to mention all the Heroic Age variant covers, really didn’t help). So, just to get back at them, I am going to be totally childish and use a couple of panels from Ultimate Avengers II #2 out of context to make Bruce Banner look racist:
Oh, Bruce. “You people”? Poor choice of words, buddy. Anyway, as you may have guessed, The Heroic Age kicked off proper this week with the launch of the brand-new Avengers ongoing series by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. (to be followed up by New Avengers, Secret Avengers, and Avengers Academy—apparently, Marvel wants to keep using the word Avengers until it has completely lost all meaning). This debut issue features the new team lineup of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, and Hawkeye, overseen by Maria Hill in the Henry Peter Gyrich role, I guess.
Strangely, though, only the characters who have been in, or will soon be appearing in, major motion pictures made the cover. Funny that, eh? Kang shows up to crash their launch party by telling them, Doc Brown style, that their kids are going to ruin the future and screw up the timestream or something and they have to come into the future and help save it. Bendis continues to aim straight for the lowest common denominator here; it’s all awkward dialogue, unfunny banter, and time-travel mumbo jumbo, with a good dose of “Let’s run and fight!” thrown in for good measure. I’m glad to see Clint Barton back as Hawkeye, but it doesn’t happen in any kind of dramatic or cool fashion. He just shows up and is Hawkeye. With all the Siege crossovers, couldn’t there have been a moment where Bullseye/Hawkeye suddenly switches sides, and we realize that Clint had beaten up Bullseye and taken his costume back so he could infiltrate the Dark Avengers? Something, anyway! Anything would have been better than just, “Hey, it’s me, I’m Hawkeye again”, and him and Spidey make a few dumb jokes about it or whatever. Sorry, my inner Hawkeye fanboy got away from me there for a second. Like Siege, this feels like it was thrown together in a hurry, and maybe I’m expecting too much of it, but it’s sloppy and I don’t like it. So there.
A much better Heroic Age book this week was Atlas #1 by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman. It spins out of the now-defunct Agents of Atlas series, riding a crest of publicity for these characters that its predecessor never had (lots of guest appearances and spin-off miniseries led up to this relaunch). The Atlas team is composed of the modern incarnations of various 1950s Marvel characters who were published separately under the old Atlas publishing imprint, and is a fun bunch of science fiction archetypes—a Goddess (Venus), a robot (M-11, the Human Robot), a spaceman (Marvel Boy), a talking ape (Gorilla Man), an Atlantean (Namora, cousin of Namor) and a secret agent (former SHIELD agent Jimmy Woo). Don’t be intimidated by all that has gone before, though—this new first issue tells its story from the point of view of new team member 3D Man, as he seeks out Atlas after being plagued by visions of the mysterious superteam, while being pursued by murderous aliens that only he can see (shades of They Live!). This is a fun, retro-tinged team book in the Mighty Marvel Manner, light-hearted but not goofy, while being serious yet not grim.
That Doom really knows how to enjoy his day off.