Saturday, 5 June 2010

New Beginnings - Avengers Prime #1

Lurking amongst the other four big Avengers titles launching the Heroic Age is Avengers Prime, a series focusing on the ‘Big Three’ Avengers; Thor, Captain America and Iron Man. Taking place between scenes at the end of Siege, though there are internal inconsistencies on this, the three are assessing the ruins of Asgard and also bickering quite a bit.

Considering the Heroic Age is meant to be about heroes being heroes again and not fighting amongst themselves, it seems a bit odd that writer Brian Bendis would play so heavily on the in-fighting between the three (well, between Stark and Rogers, with Thor stuck in the middle), especially when he has to drive Rogers out of character so much to make it work. Steve here completely contradicts everything he stood and died for in Civil War, making him look like a hypocrite for no particularly good reason or effect.

Before long, the three are sucked through a damaged Asgardian portal and dumped across the nine realms of Norse mythology, lost and alone. Well, Thor’s not lost, obviously. Which only really serves to further make him seem like a third wheel.

Splitting up the characters is a mistake. All these three characters have solo books. Therefore, they don’t really need a joint title doing character pieces on them, unless it’s going to focus on them as a group and as friends. Splitting them up robs the book of its reason for existing, especially as you don’t gain any sort of extra insight to the three when they’re alone. Steve manages to get into a fight with some goblins, which is fun, but all it serves to do is put him in a rough approximation of his Captain America costume – which tells us what exactly? That he’s Captain America? Well, a) we know that and b) he isn’t any more, which is what these new Avengers titles are all trying to establish.

The biggest problem is though that we already know what happens next. This issue takes place before Avengers #1, which still has Tony and Steve hostile to each other and Thor stuck in the middle. If the rest of this series does go on to have some manner of reconciliation between the three, it’s immediately irrelevant, because the reader already knows it doesn’t stick.

The only real saving grace for the issue is the art by Alan Davis, quite possibly one of the best artists currently working in the medium. That’s a bit of a shame really though. I’d like to think there’s more interesting titles he could be putting his talents towards. He seems wasted on this title, even if he does draw the nine realms very nicely.

Avengers Prime really does feel like a waste of time. It’s so busy retreading old ground that we should all be moving away from, with little in the way of return or reward, that it forgets to do anything worthwhile with itself. It’s a character study that doesn’t study its characters.

Martin S Smith is an author and blogger. He’s just released his first book, The Redundancy of Flightless Birds, and reviews stuff every week over at The Taste of Rising Bile.

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