Review by Frank Plowright
Also written by Brian Michael Bendis, the previous series of the Avengers ended a dark era with the Siege of Asgard and the return from seeming death of Captain America, the Steve Rogers version. Handed a brief to reform the team, Rogers does so in the first chapter, nominating his squad for given reasons, then placing it the charge of former S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison Maria Hill. The inauguration is interrupted by old enemy Kang, time-travelling despot or warrior according to who’s making the call. He brings dire news from the future where the children of the Avengers have defeated Ultron and without any controls have become despotic.
For long term Avengers fans there’s a visceral thrill at the thought of Kang and Ultron in the same story, and Bendis also throws in the Maestro (an evil future incarnation of the Hulk), Galactus, and Apocalypse and his four horsemen. From the realisation that the timestream is broken the team have little opportunity to catch their breath. Half travel to the future while the others deal with time fracturing all over Manhattan. And how nice it is to see Killraven again, accompanied by Devil Dinosaur, no less.
The roller-coaster ride is spectacularly illustrated by John Romita Jr in the gritty, blocky style he developed on Spider-Man. Given the space to play, every chapter contains at least one stunning image spread over two pages, varying from Thor belting Kang through buildings to Iron Man and Protector using the laboratory facilities. Not since Jack Kirby has technology looked so awe-inspiring in Marvel material, and that applies to the computer-generated holographic imagery for which colourist Dean White also deserves recognition.
Bendis’ take on Kang, Ultron and Apocalypse is very different from the versions seen previously, but also consistent with them, and the new approach is a success. Having excelled over the previous run, Bendis has topped himself here.