MIGHTY AVENGERS #2 / Written by AL EWING/ Art by GREG LAND/ Inks by JAY LEISTEN/ Colors by FRANK D’ARMATA/ Letters by CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Mighty Avengers sits on the borderline. It has the potential to become a poignant story of a very unique superhero team or another Avengers comic with a bloated cast and jumbled up plot. Mighty Avengers #2 shows both of these traits, and while worth reading for the former, there is still some fear it will sink into the latter.
Starting with the book’s strengths, as with the first issue, this current issue showed a great deal of promise. It had a diverse roster of unique and underrated A and B-List heroes. Luke Cage makes a strong and likable protagonist, not simply because of his powers, but because he truly has the heart of a hero while being dangerously flawed. Writer Al Ewing does a great job of showcasing his character through simple moments; Cage demanding his allies rescue fellow hero Spectrum even if costs the battle, a battered Cage being cheered on to fight by the very neighborhood he protects. These simple moments showcase Ewing’s strong sense of Cage’s character and really make the book compelling.
The art is no slouch either. Greg Land’s artwork is bold, dynamic and detailed. Characters look realistic and natural, have great costumes, yet still keep a vibrant, 90s super hero cartoon feel. The action sequences are also fantastic. You can feel the blows during Luke Cage’s showdown with big bad Proxima Midnight, and the grand entrance of another surprise baddie at end of the issue is visualized with the perfect mix of awe and terror.
These are all the strong points of Mighty Avengers, and they definitely make the comic a fun read. That being said, this second issue shows some hiccups and danger signs that may weaken future issues.
One of the major ones is a feeling that the comic is getting too big and complicated too fast. The first issue referenced the sprawling Infinity storyline but was relatively self-contained. Luke Cage struggles to be a hero and a family man. Proxima Midnight shows up to smash things. Luke Cage and a rag tag group of allies must save the day. No exposition necessary, letting the reader jump right in.
The second issue attempts to directly tie into the Infinity storyline. While it does so in an unexpected way, the threat that results feels like it detracts from the more immediate battle of Luke and company versus Proxima. On top of this, the comic drops hints that more characters will be joining the fray.
While Mighty Avengers giving B-List heroes the spotlight is nice, part of the first issues’ appeal was that it was an intimate band of caped crusaders. Four heroes who can barely stand each other had to save New York from an army of aliens. The fear following the second issue is that the series will get caught up in Infinity and its small intimate cast will become bloated.
Infinity is an interesting storyline, however it is very expansive, ties together multiple storylines and sports a huge cast of characters. It requires a good deal of knowledge about the present Marvel Universe, and anything beyond the first issue’s “save New York from Thanos’ minions” risks running straight from quick and easy read to continuity lockout.
In addition, while Cage gets a great deal of development, Spectacular Spider-Man, Spectrum, and Spider-Guy get skimmed over. This is tragic because the team showed some great potential and chemistry in the first issue, and while there are traces of it in the second issue, the writing doesn’t build on it. What makes the best superhero teams work is that they are a team. They are strong as individuals, yet are stronger and more interesting together, but this only works if the team is a good ensemble. If Luke Cage is the only character to get the spotlight, Mighty Avengers isn’t going to work, no matter how many underdogs it adds to the roster.
Yet even amongst these complaints, Mighty Avengers has so much potential. Greg Land draws some spectacular fights, Luke Cage is a compelling lead and during its best moments the book’s a great read. On top of these strengths, it has more people of color in its main roster than probably any comic out right now, which to this Black writer, means a great deal. At the same time, there are cracks in the armor. Just as Mighty Avengers could become a hit, it could just as easily slip into mediocrity.
Regardless, it is worth reading, just to see which way this contender will go.