What can I say? This is the comic I’ve been craving for…years, literally. The interaction between Steve and Tony was everything I wanted and more — fraught with tension, but bantery and fun, the interaction of estranged friends who still love each other very much and fall into old patterns without even thinking about it. Also, Tony rode a horse naked, Steve slayed a dragon to save his Iron Damsel, and the two rode off together on a single horse to defeat the bad guys. Oh, and Thor was there, too. Between Brian Michael Bendis’ spot-on dialogue and Alan Davis’ gorgeous art, this book was pretty much my ideal comic, and I’m only sad to have to wait two months for the next issue.
Time to be the turd in the punch bowl: I am not a fan of this miniseries. There’s a certain type of Avengers story — basically, an Englehart/Stern/Busiek riff — that Bendis wants desperately to be able to write. He’s not very good at it. I enjoy much of what he’s done on his own Avengers books, the ones where he’s created a specific tone and plotting style that plays to his own strengths. But when he tries to do this “classic” Avengers type of story, all that mannered dialogue — listen, I mean all that mannered dialogue — gets in the way. Alan Davis, however, deserves a Nobel Prize. I don’t care if there’s no category for “Rad Comics Artists Who Effortlessly Create The Platonic Ideal Of Superheroics.” There should be one, and he should get it, every time.
If you’ve ever wanted to read a comic where Steve Rogers rescues Tony Stark and they ride off together on a horse — and if you’re in a certain cohort of Avengers fans, you have — this is a comic for you. Brian Bendis has the “Butch and Sundance” banter down to perfection, and if the rapprochement between the two seems a little too easy, there is no doubt more angst to come before the series wraps. Technically, this is more of a Thor story — they’re in one of the nine realms, possibly a very bad one, and someone has made off with Mjolnir — but “Steve and Tony on horseback” sums this up fine. My only real complaint about this series is scheduling. You might say Alan Davis art is worth waiting for, and it does look awesome. But it might have been smarter to get “Tony and Steve make up” out of the way in a one-shot before sending them over the rainbow for excellent adventures. But I’m not complaining, much.
This has been an interesting mini-series so far, giving us a look at the top three Avengers, and theoretically leading us to the reconciliation they needed to kickstart the new Avengers books norm. Steve Rogers definitely comes off best, just being the Big Damn Hero at every turn. Thor holds his own for the most part in this series, though the end of this issue doesn’t go so great for him. Tony, however, does not come across well in this series. Until he shows off his big brain by tricking his captors into letting him go, he spends most of this series being useless without his technology. Troubling. Speaking of his captors, if this is an Asgardian realm, what’s with the Fing Fang Foom dragon guy? Also, as I am fairly new to the Thor comics, I found the portrayal of Hela as a cackling villain to be hard to come to grips with, after her portrayal as a sympathetic protector of the dead in the Thor main series recently — confusing. Other highlights of this issue include shield-tossing dental surgery, and Tony’s reaction to Steve’s arrival. And as confused as I might be by the Hela/Hel aspects of this story, I’m looking forward to the next issue, hopefully to see Tony accomplish more, Steve just kick more butt, and the three of them banding together.
This book is just shockingly good. After a slam bang first issue and slightly slower second, this one shifts into 6th gear. Tony’s captured by ogres, Steve’s on his way to help and Thor’s throwing down with Hela and all of it is awesome. From Tony shit-talking while tied naked to a table to him and Steve being an old married couple, everything is perfectly in place. Alan Davis’s art is perfect for the tone of high adventure and wide screen action. This is what Bendis’s main Avengers book should be, not that other mess with John Romita, Jr.