We Have An Army

I don't normally post a new entry mid-week, but the reason for the delay of this week's entry should be made immediately clear at the very end.

Anyway, unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably cried yourself to sleep over the awesomeness of the Superbowl trailer that features, among other things, this one memorable line:

Well, if Wonder Man from last week's final issue of the Avengers: Children's Crusade is to be believed, so do the Avengers.

Art by Edward Cherniga for the upcoming Upper Deck trading cards set.
Of course, the movie's continuity is worlds away from that of the current comics but I couldn't help noting the irony.
I did mention in a previous entry how the Avengers is neither a family nor a school.
But an army?

Okay, maybe that sounds about right considering that since the revamp and reorganization of the Avengers franchise about two years ago, there have been four different squads running about regularly and two assembled for only brief periods (i.e., miniseries), including the Young Avengers.

Heroic Age Avengers by Marko Djurdjevic
So here now are my thoughts on the Avengers teams and titles of the past couple of years, quite notable for being the period with the most number of legit A-teams simultaneously in operation. Thankfully Fear Itself hasn't quite shaken up the status quo unlike in previous years when we've seen radically new lineups and titles following the Civil War and Secret Invasion.

We may as well get started with the Young Avengers.
Marvel did right by me when they decided not to let any other creative team alter this group other than their creators, writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung. Sure, they've been involved in a few scuffles here and there, but for the most part, their membership have remained intact... at least until the very end of Heinberg and Cheung's Children's Crusade.

Speaking of which, yes, it was was almost near-torture to endure almost two years plagued with delays for a 9-issue miniseries plus a special one-shot (that Heinberg did with Allan Davis), but every issue that came out left me completely satisfied me as a fan not just of the Young Avengers, but the Avengers in general! And that is already more than I can say about some of the current story lines running through the titles.

As for the main team, the folks we have on the left is pretty much the same as who we had in the beginning of the relaunch. Just swap Thor with Storm and Bucky Cap with the real thing plus add in the Red Hulk, the original Vision, and Quake (No, that's not Maria Hill). Oh, and yes - no more Wolverine and Spider-man!

I don't want this to turn into a case of Bendis-ranting (there'll be time enough for that later), so I'm not gonna comment on the quality of this book so I'm just gonna tackle the cast.

I want to be thrilled that Storm is finally among earth's mightiest heroes but her induction was kinda lame and she so far has not done anything significant. And the Red Hulk and Quake are like Ares and Echo all over again! They just don't belong on this team!

As for Bendis' other group, the New Avengers. Again, not much has changed since the relaunch except for the addition of Daredevil! (Not in picture are Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Mockingbird, and Jessica Jones.) I've been waiting for him to join and now he's finally here!

I want to like this book and its lineup, I really do. It's just that Bendis' writing, supposedly better with these street-level characters, just really left me disappointed with the first 14 issues (WTF was Mockingbird doing with the iPhone?), except for issues 7 and 8.

I'd like to see this team intact when Bendis finally leaves the Avengers alone and let other writers work them. Well, almost intact. Ms. Marvel should really be on the main team along with Storm and Spider-woman. Now that she's poised to become Captain Marvel, who knows?

Throwing a bit of a curve ball here, but this is the other miniseries I mentioned earlier: The Dead Avengers featuring original Captain Marvel, the original Swordsman, Doctor Druid, Deathcry, Yellowjacket, and once again the original Vision! (This storyline took place way before his re-introduction above).

The team was assembled in a 3-issue miniseries that tied in to Chaos War. It was exciting for me to see these characters (who I haven't seen in forever on account of being, well, dead) back in action even for a little while. This isn't the first time I enjoyed an adventure with deceased Avengers, but I'm curious why the Wasp, Scott Lang, and the Jack of Hearts weren't included in the lineup.

And now for the two titles I'm currently enjoying immensely:

Avengers Academy! And no - it's not a girl power book like what the cover on the left seems to suggest. It is, however, very empowering. It started out with the Avengers steering an all new set of characters who also had the biggest potential to end up villains towards the right path.

Now the Academy has opened its campus, which has relocated to the old West Coast compound following Fear Itself, to any young (and already established) superheroes including Lightspeed of the Power Pack, the new White Tiger, and even X-23! Reminds me of the time when the Initiative brought in new recruits also made up of existing characters, including the new Ant-man!

Speaking of the Initiative, I'm glad those guys still frequently make guest appearances at the Academy - even if they're on opposing sides now!

And going back a bit to Ant-man, I'm glad writer Rick Remender kept the little guy around when he took over Secret Avengers after the runs of Warren Ellis, Nick Spencer, and the team creator Ed Brubaker.

Now that Steve Rogers is back with the main team as Captain America, he appointed Hawkeye as the new leader of this covert group, which now also includes Giant Man, the original Human Torch, and new inductees into the Avengers' ranks - Captain Britain and the new Venom!

Though one of the biggest disappointments I had with the original cast was Nova. Hope he can come back so they can do more with him. I hope Shang-Chi comes back also since there's an awful shortage of Asian Avengers!

And now for the reason I was late with this blog.

The first issue of Avengers Assemble featuring the movie cast just hit stores yesterday. Once again, in true Bendis fashion, issue number 1 was just one big prologue that you wouldn't understand until subsequent issues!

It's not exactly an entirely new group, but it is set in regular continuity so it would be very interesting to see the Hulk back in action with his former teammates.

The book will feature a rolling cast from the team's long history, so I hope they feature characters I haven't seen in a while!

This is so far the only regular title I'll be getting when everyone else ties into Avengers vs. X-men since this title won't be affected by that mess! Here's hoping it's worth my while!

Not included in this entry are defunct teams and titles. For a comparison of past and present Avengers lineups, check out Newsarama!

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