Avengers Inc. #1
ACTION! MYSTERY! ADVENTURE! Her name is Janet Van Dyne. She’s a hero. She’s a celebrity. She’s hunting a killer. His name is Victor Shade. He’s a villain. He’s an enigma. He just got killed. And together, they’re out to solve every mystery in the Marvel Universe…starting with their own. Al Ewing and Leonard Kirk bring you a whole new style of Avenging—from a whole new style of Avengers…
Avengers Inc. #1 kicks off a new detective-based series from the mind of Al Ewing. This review should be prefaced with the fact that there are technically two series that have led up to this: The Wasp and Ant-Man. Both of these series are written by Ewing and firmly reestablish context for these characters, which ties in nicely to the events of this inaugural issue. That said, they are NOT essential to enjoy Avengers Inc. #1. This issue (as well as the entire series) is fully readable from a standalone perspective. General knowledge of what is happening in today’s Marvel universe is recommended, yet Ewing does a great job setting the stage early on with some quick exposition.
Avengers Inc. follows Janet Van Dyne, who has taken on the role of a detective at the behest of New York City Mayor Luke Cage. There is a string of mysterious murders in the Raft involving some pretty dangerous criminals, and it is up to Janet to solve the mystery. Right off the bat, this new status quo for Janet truly stands out, highlighting her skills outside of what she is usually up to. In addition to being the founding Avengers member, The Wasp, Janet is also a fashion mogul. This has been her status as an established character for most of her time, so seeing things change up here is a lot of fun.
Janet’s supporting cast is a lot of fun as well. First off, there is Jarvis, the long-time Avengers’ butler. Jarvis has always been tightly linked to Janet, so it makes sense that he has a place in this comic. Next up is the previously mentioned Mayor Luke Cage. Cage is the person bankrolling this entire operation, using his status as Mayor to give Janet this job while acting within the law. Rounding out the cast is the new player, Victor Shade, who is set up to be the co-lead of the book. Without spoiling, Victor Shade used to be the alias of The Vision but is now the identity of a new character, definitely setting up a long-term mystery for Janet to explore throughout the series. This whole cast brings a lot to the book, especially because many are firmly connected to The Avengers but haven’t been mainstays on the team in a while. The book ends with a shot of this whole team together and works wonderfully.
Tone-wise, this is a straight-up noir-style mystery. Ewing infuses the book with noir narration from Janet, who constantly questions her place while simultaneously solving the mystery at foot. What’s established here is an episodic series where Avengers Inc. will solve one mystery in each issue while slowly figuring out the core question of what’s going on with this new Victor Shade. Ewing nails the tone, giving this book an authentic feel, which is made all the better by the pencils and inks from artist Leonard Kirk. Kirk firmly roots this book in its noir setting while infusing all the fun of the world of the Marvel Universe. This means there is an excellent balance of superhero action with the grittiness of the detective aspects. Kirk’s art will immerse readers into this narrative, giving this book the distinct feel that it needs to stand out amongst the other Avengers titles.
Alex Sinclair’s colors play a lot into the noir aspects of the title, using a lot of dulled-down colors except for the things that are receiving emphasis. This not only sets the stage for the theme of the narrative but also enhances Kirk’s art, truly rooting this book in its corner of the Marvel Universe. These aspects are further enhanced by the letters from Cory Petit, who does an excellent job of putting Janet’s inner monologue in the right spot on every page. Petit and Sinclair put the icing on the cake for what promises to be the next best genre-bent epic in the Avengers’ mythos.
Avengers Inc. #1 is the perfect palate cleansing, noir style detective book that the Avengers line needs. The new status quos for all of these characters work on almost every conceivable level, creating a mystery that is both engaging and full of spectacle.
Avengers Inc. #1: A Mystery Afoot!
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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