Saika: I’m starting to consider the possibility that Marvel has a psychic on staff. How else could they have perfectly timed the release of The Mighty Avengers #1, a comic that unbenches and gives the spotlight to several well-loved PoC heroes, to coincide with their not-so-Distinguished Competition’s putting like eight feet in its mouth last week?
Ink: Speaking of eight feet, do you know who’s completely unbearable? Superior Spider-Man, aka Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body. This issue opens with the first of several chump villains, the Plunderer. As he and his henchmen attempt to separate Horizon Labs from their hi-tech doodads, they are confronted (which is a euphemism for beat about the head and body) by Cage’s new Heroes for Hire crew. Superior Spider-Man joins the brawl against the Plunderer, and ridicules the gang for their mercenary behavior, right after giving the etymology of the word mercenary. That’s what’s different about our soon-to-be Avengers: they have to keep the lights on. After being abandoned by White Tiger, the team retreats, leaving its individual members, which includes the new Power Man (Victor Alvarez) and the Blue Marvel, to contemplate their future.
Soon after we’re introduced to another member of the team, Pulsar/Photon/Captain Marvel (real name Monica Rambeau), now going by the name Spectrum. She gets enough pages to take out a chump villain, visit a costume shop and meet with a mystery character. Then, with Avengers-only timing, New York City is attacked by Proxima, one of Thanos’s most powerful lieutenants and a member of the Black Order. She and her alien army don’t give the team time to fall apart before banding together to form the first team of Avengers to ever worry about paying bills.
Saika: It’s sort of tricky to review just one comic as opposed to a trade or the whole arc—one issue is only really enough to set up the plot and establish a few important character traits. Given these limitations, though, I think The Mighty Avengers is doing a good job so far. It is arguably tied into the ongoing/current Infinity event, hence Proxima’s presence, but really, she could be any alien baddie attacking New York and forcing a scrappy team of underdogs to face her. All Infinity has done to influence this storyline is guarantee that the first-string Avengers are all off-planet.
Ink: So while this may be the second-string Avengers, they’ve got some pretty serious powerhouses among them, fully capable of throwing down with the baddest of baddies. That’s cool. Until Proxima reared her vaguely Galactus-shaped head, we were worried that the Mighty Avengers were just going to be fighting chump villains, especially since page space is taken up with things like Luke Cage having to remember diapers. Just the opposite actually. This is a total representation victory for those of us that believe that brown kids deserve more brown superheroes. Luke Cage is black. Victor Alvarez, Cage’s successor as Power Man, is Afro-Dominican. Spectrum is black, Falcon is black, Ava Ayala, the White Tiger, is Hispanic. I could write line after line about how each of these characters 1) is of color, 2) has a great backstory and character development in other titles, and 3) possesses big-league levels of power and/or training.
These Avengers seem real. Obviously, they aren’t. Obviously, they’re larger than life and they can fly and throw cars. But, they also have bills. They get into arguments in diners, as opposed to in helicarriers, and their families aren’t constantly in grave danger for the sake of their hero pain—but they still have to provide for said families. Superior Spider-Man illustrates this very well at the opening of the comic, degrading Cage and company because their motives for heroism are about survival, and not nobility or service to others. The erstwhile Heroes for Hire are “for hire” because they aren’t Norse Gods or billionaire genius playboy philanthropists.
Seriously engaging with diversity means engaging with all kinds of diversity. While it’s done with an entertaining touch, the comic presents different socioeconomic situations. What’s more is that it engages with them as a fact of life, and while these situations do come with hardships, they aren’t presented as an object of pity or tragedy. I’m psyched to see how the Mighty Avengers might balance rent payments and having to save the world, Big Apple first.
Saika: I also liked that this comic was pretty damn funny. When the mystery dude—who the rumor mill seems to say is probably Ronin—arrived on scene in his generic-ass Splendiferous Spider Hero (No Hyphen) costume, I actually laughed out loud. The timing was perfect and the situation and costume were absolutely ridiculous. Coming off of the epic-in-the-classical-sense intensity of the other Infinity books, the leftover feels from Captain Marvel‘s The Enemy Within mini-crossover, and the internal X-Drama coming out of the X-Men’s Battle of the Atom event, it was hells of refreshing to encounter a title with some downright goofy shit going on.
Ink: So we’ve got black heroes, hispanic heroes, broke heroes, rich heroes, and mysterious heroes who make poor (or fabulous!) last minute costuming decisions. When I think about it, that’s probably what the team that ends up defending New York would actually look like. Marvel is setting itself up nicely for future endeavors, with a team that is not only mostly black or Hispanic, but also socioeconomically diverse, and with their recent release of X-Men Vol 4, the so-called “all-female X-Men.” I’m optimistic about this title, but cautiously so, if only because DC keeps reminding us that a story arc is more than enough time to screw something up. I’m still holding out hope to see Black Panther on the big screen, though I wouldn’t mind seeing Luke Cage or Ava Ayala up there either.
All right, that’s it for this one, you crazy kids. Don’t stay up too late, turn down that “music,” and don’t forget to check out Mighty Avengers #2 on Oct 2!