Tuesday, December 3, 2013


AVENGERS VOL. 3: PRELUDE TO INFINITY (Marvel, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Avengers Nos. 12-17 (cover dates July- October, 2013)

Writers: Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer

Artists: #12, 13- Mike Deodato; #14-17- Stefano Caselli with Marco Rudy and Marco Checchetto (#17)

Colorists: Frank Martin with Edgar Delgado (#15)

Jonathan Hickman has ramped up the cosmic angle this time out, with Captain Universe and these new New Universe versions of Starbrand and Nightmask looking like they are going to be center stage soon enough. I am not crazy about bringing the New Universe into the main Marvel Universe. The only good thing that could come out of this is maybe Warren Ellis could finish newuniversal or we could get follow up volumes to Star Brand, D.P.7, and Psi-Force Classic lines of trade paperback. Better still, a big fat Nightmask Ultimate Collection trade!

The Savage Land Children have caught the attention of the High Evolutionary. The Children are growing at an incredible rate, and will likely be incredibly powerful once they reach adulthood. I'll take a wait and see approach before I decide if I like the concept or not. So far, so good.

I was just about to criticize Hickman and Spencer's characterization of Spider-Man until I realized that this was the so-called Superior Spider-Man. For those not up to date, that means that while Peter Parker's body is still Spider-Man, it is Doctor Octopus' mind that is in control while sharing his brain...and for some reason he has decided to be a hero. No, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, either. No, I don't see how this concept got green lit. And no, it doesn't mention anything about this anywhere in the book, which is a massive failure in terms of being new reader friendly. I know, I'm a naive, nostalgic romantic, but I'd like to think that there are kids picking this stuff up for the first time, becoming lifelong readers so that these characters can live on in print. In reality, 40 year olds like myself are sadly becoming the median age reader, which should scare the crap out of anyone who makes a living in this industry. 

So Iron Man can now just beam his mind into empty suits of armor from across the galaxy? I have a pretty healthy suspension of disbelief, and can buy into the fact that Tony Stark is a technological genius, but this just screams cop out to me. Howsabout just not having Iron Man appear in every single title? Nah.

Wolverine is a member of this team of Avengers as well? Can he beam his mind into a cloned body or something? Because he is in so many titles and on so many teams that I cannot buy it. Marvel used to have continuity that was as tight as a drum, with everything having a logical rhyme and reason. You could connect the dots from one story to the next. Nowadays it's like origami connect the dots. I can't make heads nor tails of any of this anymore, and worse still, I'm caring less and less.

Another groan inducing moment is the induction of the villains in the first arc of this series, Ex Nihlo and Abyss, into the ranks of the Avengers. Yes, I know that Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and the Black Widow started off as villains. Yes, I agree with you that this is probably a double standard on my part, but I still think that it totally sucks and is lame. 

I enjoyed this book quite a bit in spite of these gripes. For starters, anything Mike Deodato touches turns to gold. He is one of the bright spots in the current generation of artists at Marvel. Stefano Caselli is another solid craftsman whose work is easy on the eyes. Hickman seems to be a love/hate thing for folks. I can take him or leave him, but his writing here is solid and enjoyable in spite of the criticisms that I listed above. I am intrigued enough to buy Volume 4 as well as the forthcoming Infinity hardcover. Kill me.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- The free digital copy code is no longer on a stiff piece of cardboard glued into the book block. It is now behind a sticker which must be peeled off. While still annoying because it “ruins” the book, it is less annoying than the card.
Hickman dictates to editorial that he wants the covers collected in the rear of the book in a cover gallery rather than in their proper “chapter marker” pages before each issue. There are chapter marker pages here, mind you, but they are plain white pages. I'm not sure about the reasoning for this practice. Does Hickman believe that folks will think that this is a “graphic novel” and not a compilation of material previously published in periodical format? Because I don't think that there are any mythological mainstream bookstore buyers who would be fooled into thinking so. Jonathan Hickman's practice results in an OCD -10% score.

DVD-style Extras included in this book: Avengers #12, 14, 16 Avengers 50th anniversary variants covers (2 pages)
Avengers #12-15 cover art (uncolored) thumbnails. (1 page)

Paper rating: 3.5 out of 5. Thinner, “wavy” glossy coated stock. The paper looks shriveled up, which annoys the piss out of me since all of my books are stored in a climate environment. I keep telling y'all that these US paper mills are using green trees and don't allow them time to properly cure, and this is what we get.

Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Glued binding. It lays pretty flat in one hand.

Hardback cover coating rating: 4.5 out of 5. The cover has the image printed directly on it, no dustjacket required. The coating is a somewhat odd feeling dull matte finish and is scuff resistant with reasonable handling.


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