Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Olivier Coipel (p), Andy Lanning (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As a devastating chemical attack descends upon a small middle-America community, we see the Avengers are in race to save the lives of as many people they can, before turning their attention to discovering the source of this mysterious crimson gas.
I was a bit worried when I read about Geoff Johns signing to an exclusive contract with DC, but he has stated that he does have enough material lined up to last until at least issue #75, so Marvel does have more than enough time to line up another big name to fill his shoes. Still, based on the strength of this opening chapter I'm a bit disappointed Geoff Johns' time on this book does have a final issue already penciled in, as he's really energized this book, with some very strong character work. I mean his take on Captain America is easily one of the bast I've ever seen, and the Vision also gets a rather impressive little moment as he helps a pair of soldiers reassess their priorities. The threat that the team runs up against in this issue is also quite chilling, as the opening sequence where we get our first look at the effect this gas has on a civilian population does a great job of pulling the reader into the story.
There's also a couple fun moments, such as She Hulk deciding she would like to wear a containment suit, and the Scarlet Witch using her powers to change the wind's direction. As for the work of the book's new regular artist, while his costume designs are a bit generic, Olivier Coipel's work is quite eye-catching, and one can't help but feel this is a very exciting time to be an Avengers fan.
The Avengers versus a chemical weapon attack is certainly a unusual scenario for the team as there's no real villain here for them to fight, and unlike the JLA, the Avengers are more of an emergency response group, and as such their current lineup does lack the heavy hitters who would be able to easily contain this threat. The opening pages do a wonderful job of establishing the horrific nature of this attack, and when the Avengers arrive on the scene, Geoff Johns delivers several cooler the heck Avenger moments, from the Scarlet Witch's little display of power, to the final dialogue exchange as the team enters the cloud. Now the material does get a bit obvious in its attempt show off how courageous the Avengers are, but truth be told there are times when it is nice to see a writer play up the heroic nature of these characters, and I must confess I was rather impressed by how well certain scenes played (e.g. the Visionís conversation with the soldiers).
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