A little over five years ago, few people outside the comic book fan community knew who or what The Avengers were. Since then, the team has starred in one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and the property is far and away the most profitable superhero film franchise going. I’ve got Black Widow on a Kleenex box. Hawkeye Nerf bows fly off Target shelves. Iron Man and Captain America bobbleheads are given out at Giants games. So when it came time to relaunch the flagship series for Marvel’s latest NOW! initiative, Mark Waid obviously assembled a team that no casual fan would recognize: the sole member with a recognizable movie counterpart is The Vision.
Before even reading a single page of Avengers #1, I applauded the direction. Too many editorial mandates – from both DC and Marvel – have muddied the waters in our monthly titles. I’ve always felt that the comics, the source material, should be informing the greater media output, and not the other way around. Movies and television shows should absolutely develop plots and characters as they see fit; I loved the humanoid Ego in Guardians 2, and I’m onboard for a revised origin story for Adam Warlock. But when an intrigued moviegoer wanders into a comic shop to gaze upon the four-color finery, let him or her marvel at a vast and varied superhero foundation, a tapestry of wonderment that stretches back decades, and not just to the most recent season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Mark Waid gets it. This team, even moreso than the all-new all-different assemblage he debuted over a year ago, offers comic book fans both new and old something unique, while simultaneously resonating with historical familiarity. The result is one of the best superhero books on the shelf.