I spoke a bit about how Dead Man Logan had a solid ending, but an even better new beginning for a new superhero crew in the Wasteland. That new beginning gets an official start this week in Avengers of the Wastelands #1, featuring an all-new Thor, Ant-Man, and an all grown up baby Hulk who Logan once protected. Ed Brisson is continuing his story in the Wastelands with artist Jonas Scharf and colorist Neeraj Menon joining him. Can they make this Elseworlds, alternate reality story work and make us care about these relatively new characters? The answer is, probably yes.
Having read Dead Man Logan I had the advantage of already knowing the unique dynamic between teenage Hulk and Dani Cage who is now the wielder of Mjolnir. The book does establish the important bits from Dead Man Logan fairly early on via Ant-Man’s tussle with Dr. Doom, who is the big bad villain in this story. We also quickly learn Logan died two years ago, putting this book a little further along in the lives of these characters. It’s nice to see Ant-Man aka Dwight Barrett get a bigger role in this book since he was in Mark Millar’s original story. Here he’s a hero filled with doubt, but he will stop at nothing to fight when push comes to shove. He fits in with this crowd due to Dani and Hulk being outcasts. Brisson quickly establishes they’re rather happy and comfortable in their new digs, but this issue effectively kicks off the adventure by getting these heroes to join forces.
Outside of these heroes, Dr. Doom gets a scene to help us understand where his head is at. It’s also a nice reminder we’re in a strange future where an Ultron character can also be a mechanic. Fans of Forge and his base in Dead Man Logan also get some closure thanks to Dr. Doom flashbacks.
One gripe I have is how hard this issue leans on flashbacks Ant-Man went through. They establish Dr. Doom’s might, of course, but the folks Ant-Man called family are mostly unknowns. It’s unclear how many survivors from the Forge compound there were and while it sets up Dwight going through a real tragedy, it’s hard to care.
The art by Scharf has a clean look with a thicker black line that gives the book an ever so slight cartoon feel. There’s an Erik Larsen vibe to the work that’s unmistakable. Skin tone and lighting by Menon is strong, allowing the things in Ant-Man’s helmet to be visible, but also give it a bit of a worn look. There’s a full-page splash of Thor that’s epic, utilizing the perspective of the field below her and the lighting smashing into Mjolnir to add a dynamic range of the background to the foreground. It’s also nice to see Hulk’s development from the pudgy teen to more of an adult here too. Oh, and Thor’s helmet is a thing of beauty, especially up close later in the book.
This is a good start to the next adventure in the Wastelands. I’m curious to see how well it does, partly because these characters are largely brand-new to most. As it stands, this series is setting up a good adventure for a set of young heroes who have something to prove in a world that has fallen to rubble. It’s a hero’s journey perfect for those who enjoy surprises.