Between myself and fellow reviewer Eric Cline, we’ve found this series to always be good, but not great. I gave the first three issues a shot before trading it off to Eric and there was a lot to like. A diverse team, some interesting new ideas as far as gender and social issues, and on top of all that a cartoony style that’s great for humorous comics. This is my first shot at reading the series in its entirety, which could make or break a series since most comics are written to be read issue by issue.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“All New, All Different?” No, thank you! New things are bad and different things are scary! Instead, why not join everybody’s least favorite super-hero team in their first ever ongoing series – the Same Old, Same Old, Great Lakes Avengers! When Squirrel Girl’s former teammates get reinstated as permanent members of the Avengers and uprooted to Detroit, the GLA has one more shot at super hero glory…but can they all answer the call? With their former leader Mr. Immortal buried alive out in the middle of nowhere, the group struggles to find their footing under the uncertain guidance of Flatman. And after a confrontation with some noisy super villain neighbors lands the entire team in jail, it’s all he can do to keep them together!
Why does this matter?
Collecting the first seven issues of this series, Zac Gorman writes a team book that’s focused on laughs, but more importantly a set of characters who are offbeat and mostly forgotten, though they all have a place in the pantheon of Marvel stories. Amongst them is Doorman, a teleporting hero who is pound for pound the funniest thing in this series. If you want a laugh, look for him on a page and read that dialogue!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
So he doesn’t have much going on.
As I said above, Doorman is hilarious and possibly the funniest thing in this entire collection. Unfortunately, he isn’t in every issue, but when he makes a return in the final issues it’s hilarious. The dialogue Gorman writes for him is akin to Deadpool as he’s a bit silly and self-reflecting. He’s also tied to a cosmic entity that pays off in a big way near the midway point of the collection.
Outside of Doorman, Big Barda is a well written new addition of a werewolf character (girl by day who can turn into a male werewolf) who adds some interesting color to the character lineup. Really, all the characters are compelling for their own reasons, like Flatman, who finally wants to make something of himself and be a real hero (but is too nervous and worrisome to get out of his own way). Big Barda meanwhile, deals with body shaming issues in one issue and Mr. Immortal has an alcohol problem.
The plot isn’t so bad either, though the beginning and ending stories are possibly the most interesting. Frankly, the final issue sets up a team that’s very complex (a freaking ghost joins the team!) and it’s a lineup that might have been even stronger if the series started there. These two-bit heroes must carve a place for themselves in Chicago and attempt to do so under the guise of an official Avengers label. Another interesting wrinkle involves an Avengers lawyer who is pretty sure they shouldn’t be using the moniker (which comes back to bite them in the last issue).
The art by Will Robson suits these characters and the comedic slant it all takes. Jacob Chabot fills in for one issue and keeps the style somewhat similar. Robson’s best issue comes in the last, where a cool looking ghost floats about, a giant blubbery villain attempts to stomp them, and Mr. Immortal does some crawling around inside the thing. Robson has a way of making these characters relatable and you’ll sympathize with them quickly due to their facial expressions. The colors by Tamra Bonvillain add another dimension to the book with a great use of skin tone to make the characters come alive.
Two will enter, who will win!?
It can’t be perfect can it?
Unfortunately, a lot of the humor falls flat or there just simply isn’t any for long stretches. The pace seems to be the culprit and if it was sped up I imagine this series would truly sing. The fact is, by the last issue I was wishing the seven issues were compressed into three tops. There’s a lag to the narrative that makes you want more nearly always. Take a scene with Mr. Immortal who is sad and alone in a coffin underground. The first few issues keep cutting to him and they don’t seem to add anything new. As the story progresses and he finally gets out he’s not used very well and ends up sort of tagging along.
Which brings up another issue: the team aspect. These characters don’t really work together, let alone bond much at all. For the most part, they do their own thing. By the end, there’s some teaming up going on, but it’s too little too late.
Other aspects seem half baked, like Dr. Nod, a glorified evil scientist who has no meat to his character. Turning into a monster that grows isn’t new either, making the character more of a visual treat than an interesting character.
Is It Good?
A comic series that disappoints more than most because there was so much damn potential left on the table. Doorman is still worth plenty of laughs and the complex characters are a treat if you dig in to enjoy them, but the slow pace and spotty humor drags this book down.