Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: Avengers: The Origin

Book Review: Avengers: The Origin by Joe Casey and Phil Noto

Avengers: The Origin is another reboot/update of a classic superhero comic. It came out as a five-issue series in 2010, probably in anticipation of the release of Joss Whedon's [Marvel's] The Avengers [Assemble] movie. This graphic novel also tells the story of how the Avengers first formed, but is more of a throw-back to the comic book origin than a follow-on to a bunch of superhero movies.

As in the movie, Loki is the main bad guy, though here he is merely trying to get revenge on Thor because he really doesn't like his brother. And he's been banished to The Isle of Silence by Odin. Loki still causes problems for Thor by manipulating events on Earth. He gets a fairly articulate Hulk to go on a rampage, drawing a fistful of heroes to southwest America to find and contain the Hulk. Those heroes are Thor, Ironman, Ant Man, and The Wasp.

Non-comic readers probably are scratching their heads at the mention of Ant Man and The Wasp. Ant Man does in fact communicate with ants and is able to control them (much like Aquaman with fist), but he's also a brilliant scientist and can shrink himself down to ant-size. The Wasp is his girlfriend (they get married soon after The Avengers are formed in the 1960s comics) and she has similar control over flying insects and her size. What she lacks in scientific brilliance is made up for by her willingness to jump into any exciting and dangerous situation for some action.

As in the movie, the heroes do not work together at first and they have no idea of the bigger picture. Unlike the movie, Bruce Banner is nowhere to be seen, as if the Hulk can't revert to Banner. Thor eventually battles Loki while the other heroes battle the Hulk. The conflicts get resolved neatly and the heroes are united by the end.

The story moves along at a reasonable pace though it is not too exciting. The discussion at the end among the heroes of what their group's mission will be and how they will relate to the government is interesting. The art is okay but not in any way remarkable, except that the style mimics the 1960s visuals, especially with Ironman's first, boxy gold armor and Hulk a bit like a green Frankenstein's monster. Overall, there isn't enough high stakes, great action or cleverness to make the book really shine. I found it mediocre.

Thor, as he is fighting multiple Lokis on the Isle of Silence: The swarm will not deter me, half-brother--behold my righteous fury! [he smashes a bunch of fake Lokis] Enough of your tricks! Mjolnir will have the final say--and properly smite your army of evil! [his hammer Mjolnir smites the army of evil] And so! the truth is revealed--and you have nowhere left to hide!
Loki: I only cringe from your constant blustering, Thor!

That made me laugh out loud.

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