Hey guys, Neil here. I stumbled upon Al Ewing’s run of The New Avengers while I was sitting in my local comic shop and fell in love with it, for the diversity of backgrounds and personalities of the main characters. So much that I went back and read Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers series for background, and loved that too. So when they announced the sequel series, U.S.Avengers, you can bet your life savings I rushed over to the stands and picked up my state variant. And today, we’re going to talk about it.
U.S.Avengers #1-3: Skullocracy
Writer: Al Ewing
Pencils: Paco Medina
Inks: Juan Vlasco
Colors: Jesus Abortive
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Thoughts: If you wanted classic, semi-campy comic book stories melded together with modern-day dialogue done right, look no further than U.S.Avengers. It is a mix of classic superheroes, neat little 007-styled sequences, and a hammy supervillain with an easily exploitable weakness all in one three-issue arc. All are treated as credible moments and taken seriously, and that makes it a fun little romp through memory lane for those having lived with, or read, comics that came before the Comics Code.
Easily one of the best parts of the series’ premise is the total rebranding that Sunspot (now codenamed Citizen V) has put in place for his team. It is, again, one of those over-the-top and cheesy aspects that you would never expect to work, but somehow Ewing pulls it off. He ties it into their current political situation, and gives it a sense of credence to go along with how goofy it sounds. Lets not forget the teammates that are left from New Avengers have, for the most part, taken very American-styled mantles from previous times, while still being respectful to the previous holders of said mantles; legacy done right.
Ewing’s dialogue is stellar, managing to give every character their own unique voice. Everybody sounds unique in the mannerisms they project through their words, which is only helped by the art (I will get into that in a bit). But their dialogue tells us a lot about them. Bobby Da Costa projects a sense of united patriotism, making himself the ultimate propaganda film, perhaps too much so according to some in the comic. But that is not a bad thing. It exemplifies his overbearing desire to advertise a place for himself in the world and leads to him over-projecting himself. Toni Ho acts like a person who has had to overcome a lot of emotional struggle (both from her single mother upbringing and LGBT-identification) along with a very subtle hatred against Tony Stark.
Aikku is a person who is still learning who she really is in the world, and the comics projects this really well, with her optimistic attitude towards the future now that she is among friends. Doreen is already to that peak optimistic point, ready to confront the future head-on, while also playing a very cute, likable tense that seems pulled straight out of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Cannonball speaks like a Southern, and is the veteran of the superhero business which feels earned as he acts like a man who is coming to terms with his veteran status and his new fatherhood. And finally, General Maverick is your stereotypical army general, who also has gained a new cockiness with the Red Hulk plug-in (which is actually a pretty cool new toy to introduce to the Marvel Universe) but he still respects his teammates and those around him, provided they have earned it in his eyes.
This diverse lineup of characters is really important because it is a reminder that so long as we believe in a cause, for good or bad, your race, gender, etc, does not matter as long as you agree on what you are fighting for. Regardless, I’ll still miss Songbird and the rest of the departing cast; they added a lot to the New Avengers run. And I do feel like putting the Danielle Cage Captain America back in her time was a wasted opportunity to complement the America motif, but I guess we already have enough people with similar identities running around in the MU. It was nice to see that Ewing remembered her, though not much of a surprise given how continuity-knowledgeable Ewing is.
The villain follows a combination of several caricatures, notably the hammy evil mastermind and greedy capitalist who doesn’t care about the well-being of the 99%. Golden Skull is rather cartoonish, which is consistent with the tone of the book, as are his plans, which while elaborate, are fun to follow and easy to solve. His muddled origins make him slightly interesting, but only for about an arc, which makes me glad he is a one-off.
On the subject of art, Paco Medina was a wonderful choice to head the team, and he delivers a classic blend of house style and stylization that contests Stefano Caselli in how gorgeous it is. The line work is crisp and has little to no choppiness in it, regardless of the motion of characters, which is reinforced by the well-rendered digital inks of Juan Vlasco. The only complaint I have is the colors, and even then it’s a slight one. Jesus Aburtov does great with metallic objects and other things that look shiny, and his glows are comfy and certainly not worthy of mockery. However, he suffers the same problem as fellow colorist Marte Gracia: they make everything, from skin to hair, shiny as well, regardless of whether or not it should be. But, for lack of a more intricate term, he gets the job done passably.
Conclusion: This comic arc is easily accessible for newcomers to the title, or the MU as a whole, because it takes it time to ease you into the setting with some great art, good comedy, and fun action. I highly recommend making this as a priority on your pull-list, and I would dare call it one of the best titles that Marvel is putting out; and with over 100 titles a month, that is a compliment if I ever heard one.