Bento Review: The Mighty Avengers The Ultron Initiative

Comic Bento this month went with a theme of “might” with a Marvel spotlight.

For some reason, it included two non-Marvel books.

But first, we have the first volume of The Mighty Avengers, one of two interlocking Avengers titles written by Brian Michael Bendis in the wake of the first Civil War crossover.

I actually read this storyline before in my previous collecting days as individual issues.  I was, at the time, starting to grow a little weary of Bendis’ writing style.  I had thought he never quite “got” the Avengers.  The world-shattering threats the team would normally face seemed to lean more towards distrust of S.H.I.E.L.D., stuff with the Hand, and other things that never seemed to be particularly world-shaking.  Then the Superhero Civil War hit, the team divided, both halves added members, and we had two competing Avengers teams

And, somehow, at least for this first storyline, Bendis seemed to get the Avengers right.

The volume opens with Iron Man meeting with Carol Danvers back when she was still Ms. as opposed to Captain Marvel.  He’s asking her to put together a new team of Avengers since the world needs one, and she’d be leader of a team that included him.  Tony’s only requirement is the new team must include the unstable powerhouse Sentry.  The remainder of the team are Carol’s picks, namely the Wasp, Wonder Man, and Black Widow.  Iron Man believes they need a “Thor” and the unpredictable nature of a “Wolverine”.  Carol has that in the form of a construction worker who turns out to be the Greek God of War Ares.  Ares has a mortal son and joins when it’s promised that the Avengers will match his pay.

And then, during what looks like an invasion by the Mole Man, Ultron returns in the most unexpected way possible:  he takes control of the bio ware that makes up Iron Man’s current armor and morphs the armor and Tony inside into a half-metallic, half-organic being that looks an awful lot like the Wasp.

This may be the sexiest Ultron has ever been.

As an aside, I don’t normally think this way of comic book artists’ work, but artist Frank Cho can draw some rather attractive women.

Using various Starktech devices and functions, Ultron may finally get his/her wish to destroy humanity.  And he/she will do it out of a claim of love.

If there’s a false note to the story, it’s the treatment of Hank Pym.  Granted, this Pym will eventually be revealed to be a Skull in disguise (indeed, the volume ends with Tony learning the Secret Invasion is going on), but in-story everyone treats him with thinly-veiled contempt, a major change in perspective from how Pym had been portrayed by, oh, every Avengers writer up to that point.  While Bendis’ view was apparently Hank could never be forgiven for hitting Janet (the most memorable moment in the character’s long history), that isn’t even why everyone seems to be down on Pym.  Instead, everyone (Pym included) blames him for Ultron.  You’d think this would have come up sooner.

As it is, despite the Sentry going berserk when Ultron temporarily kills his wife (Sentry brings her back in a way that freaks him out), the Avengers step up and save the day, where Ares’ knowledge of how war works actually makes him instrumental in Ultron’s defeat.

Really, this may be the most solid Avengers story Bendis came up with.  Everything else just seemed like a random Marvel superteam dealing with their own issues, not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes battling against the massive threats only they could handle to save the world.  Then again, I’ve long felt Bendis worked much better doing street-level heroes and espionage stories.  The giant crossovers, among other things, always seemed smaller then intended when he wrote them.  The fact that many of these issues just seemed to be set-ups for the Bendis-written Secret Invasion, happening so soon as Civil War ended, doesn’t help.  But for this volume…nine out of ten weather control satellites.

NEXT BOOK:  Well, this was bound to happen eventually.  Comic Bento sent me a book I already had, namely the first volume of Valiant’s X-O Manowar.  I’ll just pull a substitute and review a different Valiant title then.

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