Avengers: the Origin

29-CoverI’m a newcomer to the world of Avengers comics. Like approximately every other person alive, I loved the recent Avengers movie; I also enjoyed the individual heroes’ movies leading up to it. Aaand that’s all the background knowledge I brought to Avengers: the Origin.

Despite being in exile on the Isle of Silence, Loki is stirring up trouble in the Marvel Universe. He sends a projection of himself to provoke the Hulk — who until then was just wandering around the desert — into a blind rage, and the Hulk starts smashing up passenger trains and suchlike. A group of good-hearted teenaged hackers gets the news and decides to send an appeal for help to the Fantastic Four, the world’s only superteam. The Fantastic Four never get the message, though. Loki diverts it to Thor, who is living on Earth in disguise. The message is also picked up on the signal scanners of Ant-Man and the Wasp and it disrupts a presentation by Tony Stark of Stark Industries. Soon, the hackers’ hideaway is mobbed by a Norse god, two, for lack of a better term, bug people, and Iron Man. After some argument, Thor leaves to take on Loki himself. Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp decide to operate under the assumption that the Hulk could be a victim here (he’s been manipulated before) and that they will try to stop him without unnecessary violence.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Hulk, not a lot of violence falls into the “unnecessary” category. The big green guy is currently hiding out with the well-meaning members of a traveling circus, but once he’s found by our heroes it’s smashing o’clock. Meanwhile, Thor and Loki duke it out, might versus magic, on the Isle of Silence. It’s not too big a spoiler to say that the crisis is averted, and Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and the Hulk decide that maybe the world would benefit from one more superteam. Thus, the Avengers are born.

This volume will introduce Ant-Man and the Wasp to readers unfamiliar with these less-celebrated members of the Avengers. Both can shrink to insect size, the Wasp can fly (as can Ant-Man when small and mounted on his flying ant steed), and Ant-Man at least can use a communications device to monitor and command ants (which, in large numbers, is more effective than you might imagine, though probably with high casualty rates). The two are also romantically involved, which doesn’t come up much in this volume but usually makes for an interesting dynamic with superheroes.

Fans of the recent Avengers movie who pick up this book may be disappointed by some of the differences: Iron Man is decked out in a seriously old-school costume, for one, and Thor is not exactly the devoted and forgiving half-brother to Loki that he is in the movie (rather, he sums up his feelings with, “. . . I would silence him by hammering his head from his shoulders . . . I would send him straight to Hel if the All-Father would allow it.”). Iron Man isn’t the only one whose getup looks a little dated, either — since the Avengers got together in the 1960s, lots of characters’ clothes and gear are a real (presumably intentional) blast from the past. On the other hand, most people don’t read superhero comics for the fashion sense.

The story and art are classic superhero fare, packed with action and the creative use of powers. Plenty of action-hero violence, but no gore outside of a brief, bloody-but-not-horrific hallucination that Thor experiences courtesy of Loki. No sexual content at all unless you count the Wasp flirting with Ant-Man. Full-color pages and crisp, dramatic illustrations are a good match for this fast-paced origin story.

Avengers: the Origin
by Joe Casey
Art by Phil Noto
ISBN: 9780785144007
Marvel, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: Teen