Review – ‘ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS’ #1 – 6 (2016)…

All-New, All-Different Avengers in general is a title I’ve genuinely enjoyed, in all respects. It’s a current example of why I love reading comics; and why I’ve been a Marvel-fiend ever since I was a kid.

It’s a great line-up, with Iron Man around for leadership and starring role, with a nice mix of characters falling into place around him.

Sam Wilson is tolerable if surrounded by other characters. Vision is always an absolute winning ingredient. Nova and Ms Marvel (Kamala) are a terrific addition to the mix, and this book also gives the Marvel guys the chance to put the post Secret Wars situation to good use by dropping the Miles Morales Spiderman into the set-up too – which proves to be a very good thing.

In terms of character dynamics, this is all a good fit, with the three kids providing a nice, fun counter-weight to the older characters. In fact, it’s probably the three kids who are the most enjoyable component of this series. Lady Thor has grown on me pretty quickly too.

The cover to All-New All-Different Avengers #1 is shockingly good.

I mean, just soooo good (just look at it – top of the page). The texture and color and shade are just mesmerising and every character is rendered sublimely. You’ve seriously got to look at Kamala Khan and Thor in particular in this image; but they’re all stunning-looking.

All of the covers are in fact stunning – with the cover art to All-New All-Different Avengers #3, for example, it is impossible not to fixate on Nova’s face, just for how insanely compelling the use of colour, light and texture is.

The ‘You’re a Jerk!’ B-story, featuring Kamala Khan and Nova, is pretty much a delight. Cute as hell and managing to make two endearing characters even more endearing somehow, it treats us to a suitably awkward and funny first encounter between the two characters. Comic-book historians a decade from now might enjoy pointing tomorrow’s kids back to this little episode when asked the question, ‘When did Ms Marvel and Nova first meet?’

The climax to this awkward, distinctly adolescent meeting of minds is Sam taking the bold step (without thinking it through) of removing his helmet to show his face: as soon as he does it, however, he realises he has unthinkingly put Kamala in an awkward position where she has to either reciprocate by removing her mask or feel like a jerk by leaving him hanging.

The internal thought-processes of both characters throughout this whole encounter are really endearing, but particularly in this moment, as Sam realises he has completely exposed himself and Kamala freezes, struggling with whether or not to return the gesture.

It’s a sweetly vulnerable moment that feels wholly teenage; and, in all, this is a really nice little episode.

The early issues here are taken by the Chitauri ‘Warbringer’ and his quest to use an ancient Chitauri artefact to open up a portal through which his demonic army can invade and conquer Earth.

This is all standard, even cliched, comic book fare, but it is fun and I can’t complain.

The Chitauri apocalypse plot is wrapped up in All-New All-Different Avengers #3, with Warbringer coming to an unfortunate end.

All-New All-Different Avengers #4 is where we really get to see the new team settling in and coming together and, as such, it is a particularly enjoyable issue, with lots of nice character moments and dynamics.

It’s well-timed, after an opening few issues of hardcore alien menace, to get a more classic style of story here: an old-school superhero tag-team operation centering on a minor, obscure villain (Cyclone). It gives us the chance to see the characters gel together and find their true dynamics, showcasing more effectively than in previous issues that this is actually a pretty good line-up.

Thor as a source of wit and comic-relief works better than we’d think.

Meanwhile, every character gets both a cool hero moment and some good dialogue, and it is clear that Mark Waid has established a good, enthusiastic handle on these characters, for whom he has a discernible affection.

There are some incisive little details and moments too: such as a couple of bystanders looking at the female Thor and the African-American Captain America and complaining about how “politically correct” everything is these days (to which Sam and Thor, needless to say, do not react very well).

All-New All-Different Avengers #5 gives us another stunning, stunning piece of cover art – though, in conceptual style, it is highly reminiscent of classic, old-school Marvel and Avengers covers, with Stark pointing a finger and spelling out in dialogue what this issue is about.

Kamala is rendered utterly stunningly again, however – she looks absolutely amazing here.

Honestly, when I was reading the original (2014) Ms Marvel series, in which the art style and the way Kamala was generally depicted in a very cartoonish way, I never imagined Kamala Khan would soon be being rendered as epically and sublimely as this in a different title.

Which is not, by the way, any gripe with the Ms Marvel series; the illustration style back then was entirely appropriate to the tone of that series and the way Kamala was being written – but it’s difficult to see her being rendered as strikingly as she is on this cover and then to go back.

Kamala is central to this issue, and the way the story starts us off with a vibrant, happy-go-lucky Kamala Khan enjoying her life (literally, “I love my life!” she squeals while hitching a high-flying ride with Spiderman/Morales) and then sends her later on into a downward spiral is particularly effective sequencing.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised in general at the journey Kamala Khan has made in such a relatively short space of time from her beginnings in the 2014 Ms Marvel series to the point now where she is such a high-profile, front-line character in the Marvel set-up.

She is also such an energetic, gleeful and endearing character too and is usually a pleasure to read.

Her little fan-fic interlude at the beginning here is both funny and in keeping with what we already know about her habits: it also doubles up here as a funny way to bluff us as readers early on in relation to the awkward Thor/Sam kiss from #4. Here we see a repeat kiss, this time with ‘Thor’ taking Sam to Asgard before removing her mask and revealing herself to be Captain Marvel.

That last bit gives the trick away completely, but for a few panels I genuinely thought we were seeing story development involving Thor and Sam for real – as it happens, it’s just some more Kamala fan-fic, but it’s a clever little ruse to open the book with.

The intrigue involving Vision also continues, as we try to understand what everyone’s favorite synthezoid is up to.

His machinations result in both Kamala and Nova being unceremoniously expelled from the team, just as the Avengers are drawn into another battle with another third-rate, obscure villain (Equinox, this time).

This is generally effective plotting and pacing across issues, with things progressing an element at a time and we, as readers, left guessing as to what is really going on.

The ‘Beware… the Vision!’ cover for All-New All-Different Avengers #6 is, frankly, a nerd-gasm; deliberately recreating a famous, classic Avengers cover from prehistoric times. The original word ‘Behold’ is changed to ‘beware’, but the throwback is both precious and appropriate (rather than tokenistic or gimmicky) and it looks damn awesome.

It’s here that Vision’s machinations are exposed to the others and he is revealed to have been serving an ulterior agenda. We also get the Kang reveal.

While I like that there’s obvious forethought and planning gone into this arc, with seeds appropriately planted in advance by Waid and the plot allowed to unfold in gradual stages, I did find myself thinking this story would’ve worked even better stretched out a little further.

It almost seems a little too quick-paced at times; for example, I wonder if we should’ve gone a couple of issues more with Vision’s ulterior loyalties remaining undetected and a few more issues with Kamala and Nova being out of favor.

We get a nice scene here of Nova fetching a dejected and forlorn-looking Kamala, expressing his belief and trust in her (where the others have doubted her) and the two of them heading back to confront Vision and help the others. This is a genuinely nice moment, with the two of them somewhat bonding; but it would’ve worked even better as a whole issue/story to itself, which could’ve been the case if the overall arc had been stretched out more.

Nevertheless, this arc is wrapped up with the sort of dynamic energy that this series has thus far been consistently delivering. Meanwhile, there is clear groundwork for more to come with Kang and with Vision.

All-New All-Different Avengers #1 – 6 generally hits the mark on all fronts.

It’s a fun, spirited, dynamic series at this point, revolving around a good, effective mix of characters and interplay. If the general style of interior artwork was the same as those invariably bad-ass covers, we’d be in comic-book heaven with this stuff.

As it is, Adam Kubert’s work in the first three issues and Mahmud Asrar’s in the second three are generally seamless in their inconspicuousness – they carry the action along fluidly and without ever drawing too much attention.

As you can see, I can find virtually nothing negative to say about this series up to this point. It is a joy to keep up with.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.

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