Earth seems to always be in trouble, whether it’s one million years ago, or the present day. In Avengers #1 readers are treated to two forms of the Earth’s defenders, a composite picture of the Avengers that protect the world today, and the ones who came before them on an Earth of one million years ago. This early group of superheroes, led by Odin, and featuring the ancestors of Black Panther, and even the original sorcerer supreme Agamotto, prepare for an epic battle with celestial beings that could snap their fingers and destroy planets. The odds are against them and the situation is grim.
Fast forward a million years and the story takes us to a washed up Captain America, a reconstituted Iron Man, and a disgraced Thor. Talking about the good times, and how they can reclaim their glory, these three characters are an odd mix of some of the greatest heroes that have fallen far from their past success. Captain America and Thor are eager to show their strength and power as superheroes, Tony Stark is just grateful to be out of his coma.
An alien invasion will bring Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange together, and allow the three washed-up heroes of the past, to find some honor and perhaps a new beginning.
Avengers need to avenge, and for 99% of Avengers #1, we see no sign of any avenging at all. What we get is something much better than a battle royal of superheroes.
The core focus of this story is three sad pathetic characters who are trying to regain something of their former life. We have the disgraced Thor, the Hydra Captain America, and coma Tony Stark, meeting for a drink and talking about the good old days, when they were heroes, and how they can get back to that life. You see the desire of Thor and Cap, and the hesitation of Stark. While the two who seek glory want it to erase their negative mark for their actions, Stark is scared and needs to be pushed back to that heroic life.
Writer Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness opted to make Tony Stark the least inclined to regain his former hero life and it makes the most sense. Thor is desperate to be honorable, and Captain America needs to erase the stench of his traitorous turn as a Hydra influenced double agent. Thor and Cap have the proverbial scarlet letter around their necks, while Stark is that person who is recovering from a traumatic event. Tony Stark is unsure about himself and his place in the world. For Tony Stark, breathing and walking around is enough for him, Thor and Cap need more to justify their life.
Stark is complicated though. For all of his claims to not be interested in donning the iron suit again, Stark is plugged into the world defense through his multiple satellites, and when energy fluctuations are detected in space, Tony Stark takes an active role in trying to stop the incursion, short of becoming Iron Man.
As the situation gets more complicated, when 2000 foot tall bodies of celestial beings that are impossible to beat start falling to the Earth’s surface dead, one has to worry about what is behind this mass slaughter. As the comic was coming to its conclusion I was thinking about the comment that Agamotto made at the start of this comic when we should not worry about losing the battle, but be worried about what happens if they win. The idea that perhaps your success is not going to guarantee a good thing makes readers stop and think.
This is an argument that everyone feels when questioning their own nature, and the work that they do. What are we fighting for, and why we bother to, is one that people in all lines of work debate. Is my action worthwhile? Will my work have a positive impact, or will it be negated by the actions and behavior of those who I defended or helped?
These are some tough questions to debate in Avengers #1 but for the modern day heroes they don’t have the luxury of time to discuss these philosophical notions. What Captain America and Thor want (and ultimately Tony Stark too) is to get back into the fight. With the threat of extinction, Captain America gets to have the moment he wants and calls out for the Avengers to assemble. I can’t wait to see what they do.