Whatever happens to the random one-shot that doesn’t have a home in a collection? What does Marvel do when they create a comic story to coincide with a big budget movie but want to collect it later? Why, they combine them all into one collection of course!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Your favorite heroes from the movies, in blockbuster comic-book adventures! Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk have assembled as the Avengers, but their teamwork needs, well, work when Hydra strikes! Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man, the little hero with a flair for big trouble! Cap and the Widow must forge a new Avengers squad from fresh recruits Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon and War Machine! Stephen Strange struggles to master the mystic arts! And the Guardians of the Galaxy are targeted by one of the deadliest bounty hunters in the cosmos – Death’s Head! All that, and Spider-Man too!
Why does this matter?
This collects Avengers: Operation Hydra #1, Ant-Man: Larger Than Life #1, Captain America: Road to War #1, Doctor Strange: Mystic Apprentice #1 , Guardians of the Galaxy: Dream On #1, and Spider-Man: Master Plan #1, all of which hit comic book stands around the time a corresponding movie was in theaters. That makes some of these books over 2 years old (Ant Man) or as new as coming out this past summer. Either way, these titles were clearly written to allow movie fans a chance to dip into the comics without a huge learning curve. That spells easy action and fun with little complicated character storytelling.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The Spider-Man story is a must read adventure.
Five of the six stories in this collection are great fun and capture the essence of their characters well. The Doctor Strange story focuses on the titular doctor of course, still at the temple attempting to learn how to go into astral form. It’s reminiscent of his training sequence in the film and reminds readers magic didn’t all come to him overnight. The Ant-Man story has the character trying out his power of controlling multiple ants at once, progressing his character a tad from where he left off in the movies. There’s also a solid Avengers story with Cap testing out his team which seems to fit in right after the Age of Ultron film and does a good job showing how the movie team can work together. The Guardians of the Galaxy story, which I reviewed already, serves as a fun done in one tale. Finally Robbie Thompson and Nathan Stockman chip in a great Spider-Man: Master Plan story and even weave in some new Spidey costume features just like in the movie. All of these stories offer fun action, interesting character work, and a promise of further progression of the stories we loved from the movies.
It’s not immediately clear if these stories are the movie versions or the comic versions though I think there may be a blending of the two. Either way, it never complicates itself with backstory or requiring you know some obscure villain. The Avengers face off against Hydra for the most part, which makes sense since it’s a main player in the films. The Spider-Man story offers up a new villain (I think), but is more about Spidey’s banter and ability to sacrifice his life to help others.
There’s a simplicity to the stories which make them easily accessible be it written by Will Corona Pilgrim (who writes four of the five stories), Marc Sumerak (who writes the Guardians story) or Robbie Thompson (on Spider-Man).
The art by Andrea Di Vito, who draws five of the six stories, is clean and detailed. His work on the Guardian’s story is a stand out of the bunch. Nathan Stockman may have been born to draw Spider-Man and his work here is just as good as his work on Spidey.
The first story is a real snore.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The opening issue in this trade is so run of the mill I wonder if it was given out at movie theaters. Its main focus seems to be to fit in all the Avengers it can in a rather bland battle fighting a empty villain. Hawkeye gets a little more attention, but the entire story is so simplistic it’s downright boring. Andrea Di Vito’s art in this story is rather simple too, with little done in terms of background art. His work seems to improve as the collection progresses, but aside from well rendered characters it’s all a bit blah in this first tale. The Ant-Man story also has the simplistic movie tie-in vibe going for it, but does have a bit more structure and interesting character bits to it. Once the third issue kicks into gear the rest of the volume is spot on, but it’s unfortunate this trade paperback starts off on the wrong foot.
Is It Good?
Aside from a hiccup in the first issue of this trade paperback this is an excellent collection that is easily accessible to comic historians or casual readers. It’s an easy read for all ages too, which appears to be its purpose, and successfully accomplishes its goal of providing fun stories that seem to add or connect to the films.