“Avengers” #12.1 is the first ‘point one’ comic that seems like Marvel went out of its way to provide a special issue meant to wow any new readers who happened to pick it up. That’s not to say that other issues didn’t put forth good efforts, but 30 pages of story with no ads screams ‘Trying to win over new readers’ a whole lot more than anything the other ‘point one’ issues have done. That doesn’t make the story intrinsically better than those found in other ‘point one’ issues, but it does provide a glimpse into what the program possibly should have been like from the get-go.
The approach to the content here is similar to that of other ‘point one’ issues, with regular series writer Brian Michael Bendis teaming up with Bryan Hitch for a story with a clear beginning and ending that also puts into place some pieces for a future story. Fans of the “Spider-Woman” series Bendis did with Alex Maleev will get a kick out of seeing Jessica Drew doing some work for S.W.O.R.D. when she follows the trail of an unearthly energy source in Wakanda and gets captured by a group of science-based villains calling themselves the Intelligencia. They’ve taken possession of the Spaceknight that crashed in the African nation and their kidnapping of Drew reveals their existence to the Avengers.
It’s a basic story that allows Bendis to bring together the three Avengers teams. For the most part, the story hums along nicely with some good character interaction and action scenes, as well as a strong ending. However, there are some hiccups.
Things begin a little strangely with Steve Rogers unaware of S.W.O.R.D.’s existence despite his position as the man who, as Agent Brand points out, technically runs that agency among others. It’s a forced moment to explain the agency’s role in the Marvel universe. The dialogue of the Wizard and the Thinker as they lord their brilliance over Spider-Woman is cringe-worthy. Bendis’ style of dialogue works most of the time, but, in this case, it goes off in an odd stylistic direction that’s puzzling. Neither character bears any resemblance to their past depictions, and the new versions serve no purpose other than a failed attempt at humor.
Bryan Hitch coming aboard for this issue is a smart move. Hitch’s role as an artist who comes aboard for special project suits him. He’s the perfect artist for big comics featuring a ton of characters with a strong ability at drawing a crowd without it seeming crowded. What impressed me most was how he made Noh-Varr’s costume actually look good, something that artists like John Romita, Jr. and Chris Bachalo haven’t been able to pull off.
“Avengers” #12.1 provides a good indication of Bendis’s approach to the title, while also setting up a future story with the return of a major villain. As far as ‘point one’ issues go, this is definitely one of the better ones.