Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Manuel Garcia(p), Scott Koblish(i), Val Staples(c)
Publisher: Marvel (no duh)
While Marvel DCifies their universe proper, the company doesn't forget its older fans who like sensible reading material. Writer Jeff Parker made Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four the best Fantastic Four book on the racks. He does the same for the Avengers in Marvel Adventures: Avengers.
Parker makes his contemporaries look like brain-dead monkeys. All in a single comic book, Parker creates a premiere that introduces the Avengers and an A-Grade villain, surveys the team's powers, establishes their history and features them in action, action, action and more action. I can name writers whose brains would seize up just thinking about crafting a story with a beginning, middle and end that lies in one, just one, comic book.
While he lovingly directs the violent language of the super-hero, Parker displays his talent for crafting characterization within a brevity of scenes. The Hulk, Spidey, Cap, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine and Giant Girl--who in the universe proper you may know as the Wasp--all interact like team-mates while exhibiting their own personalities and singular dialogue.
Some of the personalities differ strongly from those of the models most familiar to the Marvel Universe. Storm for instance has never to my knowledge exhibited a half a grain of humor. Parker though makes her witty and more fetching as a result. Some of the team display their expected behavior. Although that behavior may not have been seen in comic books for years. The Hulk is the "Hulk no like tin-men! Hulk Smash" variety, yet the Jade Goliath works well with the Avengers partly because they have found a way to keep Banner calm on occasion. The method is just so elegant and brilliant that I'm dumbfounded nobody thought to employ it years ago.
Parker's wit and almost instinctive knowledge as to how the Avengers should work make the reader smile on nearly every page. We expect Spidey to crack wise, but we don't expect Giant-Girl to play along with the web-slinger, nor do we see her send-up of a Silver Age dialogue-staple coming before the punchiline hits.
Each Avenger has something to offer the team and the reader. Parker uses each member of the team's powers and strengths to make a damn-entertaining story. I can't remember when Captain America acted with such confidence. It may have been during the Stern era. Iron Man behaves intelligently, and all the team effectively contains the menace that they saw being born and about which they tried to warn the military. The readers knew what was coming the moment they saw it, but how often do the stars see exactly what the readers see? Spidey says it best:
"Wow, that's got to be an everything-went-wrong speed record!"
Manuel Garcia, of Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four, joins Parker on Marvel Adventures: Avengers. You can turn to the opening page and immediately be hooked by his art. Cosmos! The perfect anatomy and sense of scale, the beautifully illustrated face of Giant Girl and the poses that convey everything you need to know about the characters alone earn this book my highest recommendation. Read on, and Garcia's art becomes even more engrossing. The characters experience a full complement of emotions, and we see these emotions in their myriad facial expressions and body language.
Garcia fluidly choreographs powerful action sequences that match the quality of pure character moments. The scenes involving miniature team-ups within the larger group particularly impress. Garcia creates a multitude of foes for the Avengers to face, and he has the heroes knock them down with gusto that's rarely seen in today's talking heads paradigm. Though this story is frenetic, the reader need not fear the feeling of being lost in the action. Garcia breaks down the blow-by-blows within panels that fall like dominoes to create an overall intricate pattern. Kudos must also be given to Scott Koblish whose inks give muscle depth and costume texture. Val Staples' colors offer only sweetness to the eye. Nothing clashes, and the colors for Giant Girl's costume were excellent choices.
Parker and Garcia once again have given Marvel an all ages hit that outshines all the other books based on the same source. Marvel Adventures: Avengers kicks ass.
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