Friday, November 21, 2014

Captain America & the Mighty Avengers #1

Well, it is official. We can now put Al Ewing on the list of Marvel writers who seem to be there to serve my kind of niche audience. The kind of talented writer who uses humor, action, and a solid knowledge of Marvel continuity to deliver modern stories that make me feel the way I did when I was a kid discovering comics. Some writers can strike it big with this style. Guys like Mark Waid and Dan Slott are still big comic industry names now. Others carve out solid chunks on solid books; writers like Jeff Parker, Christos Gage, and Fred Van Lente all do these books with smaller audiences, but are often my favorite. We’ll have to see where Ewing ends up, but just as he did in his first volume of Mighty Avengers, he’s proving he gets the Marvel U better than a lot of big-name Marvel writers.

I do have to question the decision to open up the new volume of Mighty with inverted FalCap and Luke Cage, though. Ewing handles them superbly, of course. FalCap is inverted from Chaotic Good to Lawful Evil, and Luke Cage has done the same. Falcon’s transformation is more unsettling, as Sam Wilson embraces violence and an overpowering love of his country that excuses all sorts of super-hero infractions. He seriously injures low-level thugs, all the while thinking that they are getting off easy. The most alarming part is seeing how he is justifying all this aggression through his newfound dedication to the real America.

Luke Cage is a bit more standoffish, that’s his biggest inversion. Not only is he totally unwilling to forgive Spider-Man for his “Superior” time, Cage also is more motivated by money than ever before. Part of the Hero for Hire gimmick was that Cage rarely got paid, but the inverted Luke Cage won’t stand for that. I can’t mention Spider-Man’s appearance without giving Ewing props for the awful, uncomfortable, and dead-on page of Spidey apologies. Spider-Man has a lot of awkwardness built into his character, but that usually only manifests when he’s Peter Parker. Seeing poor Spidey so discombobulated and uncomfortable is hilarious and just makes you feel for the guy.

Just like Mighty Avengers, I read this book with my daughter. She LOVED Parnival Plunder and his bad guys. It’s silly to think that the Plunderer has enough importance to be included among the inverted, but man, does it work. The urban pirate theme, the revealing and familiar banter amongst his underlings, the use of first names! All of these things made Parnival Plunder’s appearance in this book a special thing. My daughter was very upset to see this “villain” and his henchmen get beaten so badly. She read Cap #1 with me, so she knows the real FalCap, but man, she was bummed out.

Luke Ross is an artist I’ve liked for years. His solid pencils are always a nice fit for super-hero action, and the art is solid once again. I am particularly impressed with the way he draws the new Cap handling himself. From the high-altitude shield-throw to the absolutely brutal office takedown, the sense of motion and action on the page is tremendous.

Any comic that makes me think of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life has to be a GOOD comic. When those pirate ropes slapped against the glass, I thought for a moment we were getting the first in-continuity appearance of the Crimson Permanent Insurance pirates!

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