Avengers is a title I don't how to gauge as a overall series. I enjoyed the first two arcs, but over the summer of fear my interest waned as the stories and art became watered down. Last issue marked the opener for a new chapter of Avengers under Bendis, and I was pleased with what I reader. This is a big year for Marvel and the Avengers, and even more so in light of the suddenly surging DC. In reality, Avengers is one of the few established titles that can get anywhere close to being consistently top ten for the publisher.
The team-building issues of team titles are always my favorite. Sometimes I feel like the action, romance and drama is filler between the someone dying/departing and someone else taking his/her place. Last issue teased but ultimately failed at revealing the roster; this edition fulfilled that promise, and did so with some awesome guest stars, cool reveals and an optimistic future. Well, until the next downer issue.
Those might not come as long as Daniel Acuña is providing the regular art for the series. The execution is outstanding at every turn, and compliments Bendis' writing style of banter packed panels alternating with splashes and spreads. The softly painted style is something I wouldn't think would work in something as mainstream as Avengers, but he manages well in the brief action shown here. His style is better suited to capture an emotion, expression or tone, but again, that falls right into the Bendis sandbox. A lot of high profile books have really great artists on board, and Acuña is on that list. Look at that cover!
Still, that cover isn't indicative of the events in the book. The story begins with Daisy Johnson aggressively questioning Raft warden John Walker on the happenings of Norman Osborn's calculated escape. It is nice to see a character return who was implied to have so much clout helmed the man who created her. From there we follow Captain America on his task to rebuild the team after mess of Fear Itself, and Bendis does what readers have asked for awhile, trim the roster and give it a more focused direction. Rogers describes the team as the "sanctioned authority", and there is also a divorcing of the team from the New Avengers and its respective members, a move which goes far in giving this title an identity. The inclusion of some of the new members is a bit lumpy, particularly the return of a character whose fans probably still loathe Bendis, but it's not enough to dislike the move.
A confrontational ending leads me to believe that the lull this title has suffered from might be ending. Not every issue can be a team-building issue, and we've been promised Ultron, H.A.M.M.E.R or some combination of the two for quite awhile. On the strength of its surprises and appearance Avengers #18 is a great read for the pure Marvelite, but the title runs so hot and cold it's hard to promise you next month won't suck.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.