Current Reviews


Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #1

Posted: Friday, November 5, 2004
By: Loretta Ramirez

Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Scott Kolins

Publisher: Marvel

“We shall combat the foes no single warrior could ever withstand, no matter the personal cost. ‘Tis our destiny to protect those in need…the innocent, the meek…on this world….and beyond! ” And so, Thor summarizes the intent of the Avengers’ as they gather to sign their historic charter. EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES #1 by Joe Casey and Scott Kolins is simply fun, restoring a spirit of exploration, hope, and pride that has been absent from recent Avengers stories. This is a fresh retelling of the Avengers’ first three issues, fresh because it’s a behind-the-scenes rendition of the 1963 stories, this time focusing on the character, administrative, and public relations conflicts that bombard the fledgling superhero group during their off-hours.

Here, readers witness the Avengers’ attempts to gain security clearance after an unexpected public relations catastrophe ignites, undermining the team’s efforts and patience. The government promptly withdraws support, and the public continues to question whether it’s honestly a good idea to group a bunch of superheroes together. Among the questioning public is Clint Barton, who provides a delightful cameo appearance, foreshadowing the character’s eminent induction into the Avengers, as Hawkeye. This cameo also hints at upcoming treats for Hawkeye fans as Casey delivers a fantastic yet familiar interpretation of the character—a dirty player, wisecracking friend, reluctant optimist. In fact, all of Casey’s characterizations are promising. Each character, from Jarvis to Thor, is carefully crafted and given fair time to shine, but it’s certainly Iron Man who’s prominent here. Casey tempers Iron Man’s commanding nature (bordering on bossy) with a tinge of insecurity and exasperation. The result is an Iron Man that is convincingly capable of managing the Avengers, while remaining sympathetic and even, unintentionally, funny. Again, Casey is restoring, restoring the sense that the Avengers are more than fighters; they’re unique, spirited characters. And Casey’s respect for this group of heroes is evident as he meticulously emphasizes the characters’ tiniest nuances and the timeline of their original 1963 issues. Casey’s study of the first AVENGERS issues is so thorough that EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES could be read as a companion piece to the original series; the storytelling, characterization, and art complement those early issues while retaining a remarkably modern feel.

Scott Kolins is perhaps most responsible for this compelling mix of old and new. His art is both traditional and original. He replicates enough elements of the 1963 issues so as to imbue a sense of authenticity to these new pages, but he does so with his own sharp, playful style. The result is a book that’s clean, simple, and inviting, but also filled with thorough attention to character and continuity. Even the heroes’ quick costume changes are included, with playful mockery of this superhero eccentricity of always having to update appearances. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to all these details because the excitement that buzzes off the pages makes readers zip through the issue. However, this is exactly how a comic book should feel. Maximum thrill is reached on a spread featuring the Avengers in battle with the Hulk. It’s only a two-page battle, but these pages capture the epitome of brutality. In contrast, Kolins provides a lighthearted quality to the majority of the book. He seems to delight in furnishing the Avengers mansion with items that reflect the quirkiness of the heroes. And he’s equally playful with the characters: for example, giving Clint Barton an exaggerated, arrow-shaped smirk that somehow encapsulates the entire personality of the character.

Again, this issue is all about fun and tribute. Casey and Kolins definitely deliver satisfaction here, in such a way as to make any long-time Avenger reader proud. And even with all the obvious nods to the 1963 issues, the book maintains a modern and easily accessible presentation.

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