The Avengers

I'm a long time comic book reader. Sure, I'm sporadic at best these days, but I have a history. Normally, I'm not a big fan of the 'men in tights' flavor of comics; that is to say I generally stayed away from most of the comic book titles. Sure, there was a heavy interest in the X-Men in my past, Batman as well, but over all I was always more of an underground/horror/counter culture type of comic fan. Titles such as "Preacher" and "Transmetropolitan" were more my cup of tea.

As I've mentioned around here before, I was never much of a follower of "Iron Man" but with Robert Downey Jr.'s recent outing as the metal clad man of action I felt it was time to correct that a bit. Adding more fuel to the fire was the stinger post credits in the flick with Sam Jackson's talk of 'The Avengers Initiative'. Granted I knew little about them, but the idea of a Favreau directed joint featuring a ton of costumed caped crusaders was a tasty idea indeed.

So, I decided to dive in head first and not surface until I had more info on hand. I figure with "Iron Man" being a sure fire franchise by now, and rumors of Favreau having a 3 movie arc finishing with The Avengers, it'd be nice to have background knowledge on hand.

As I sounded about in the choppy waters however, I soon realized that that was a deep pond to delve into. Spannign many years the Avengers have been about in one various incarnation or another, as well as with so many different rosters it was frankly a bit dizzying. So, as of now I've started with the recent post Civil War (a multi title miniseries 'event' in the Marvel 616 universe) off shoots, "Avengers: The Initiative" and "The Mighty Avengers", both featuring Iron Man in some shape or form.

In "Avengers: The Initiative" we jump in directly after a large scale catastrophic event that came at the end of the Civil War (Not THE Civil War). With the backlash of normal humans being scared and wary of the unchecked power of the super humans, they have now turned the Avengers into a Government based agency. All super humans are required to register with the government and go through basic training to become licensed and then assigned to one of 50 super teams based in each state of the union.

This concept in itself is great. You get a nice mixture of old heroes, old villains, and a new structured order as well as a plethora of new talent. Many of the new heroes feel a bit like they are stretching for ideas, but they mix in a nice dose of teen melodrama as they come of age with their powers, having to kill, etc. etc. It's a nice angel on the super hero stuff where normal it's all fights and action. There's still fights and action here, but it's not the main focus.

The problem with series is that it's not consistent. They pass off the art duty's a time or two throughout the 12 issue run and the styles are different enough that it's a bit jarring. The story lines suffer as well as there are several back and forth jumps in the time line making it a bit of a pain in the ass to keep on track.

Over all though, it's a decent arc in it's roots. This however may not make the best jumping on point for new fans, or a movie franchise; in this time line Tony Stark is now the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the old Avengers aren't around too much. For a movie franchise, the viewers are going to want heroes that they will recognize off the bat:

"The Mighty Avengers" also kicks off at the end of the Civil War arc, this time around focusing on the actual "Avengers" team itself. With Tony Stark taking over Nick Fury's duty's we now see Ms. Marvel in the team leader spot as she assembles a new Avengers team. The only problem is, some fifty minutes after assembling her new team, they're put to work against the possible world ending Omega level threat of Ultron. A bit of a trial by fire for all the new guys.

"The Mighty Avengers" is closer to the old school story that would work well in a movie position; some more familiar faces with Wonder Man, The Wasp, Iron Man, and a few newer faces as well. The problem is, it's still not the team that people are going to want to see. Story wise, "TMA" jumps straight into the deep end as far as getting into the heavy hitting bad guys, but it works. Hard core fans aren't going to want to go through the slow and boring development stuff again; they've been reading about this team for years and are used to their myriad of team rosters. They just want some action. The writing and artwork stay consistent as well, so it's pretty easy to slide into and enjoy.

For an "Avengers" movie, it will work. It worked with "X-Men", so why not here. We'll be stocked with some lesser known heroes, but with the recent success of "Iron Man", it'll be easy to trust them and expect the best. I myself, having not read the full series, couldn't really say what would be the perfect lineup. How about you folks? Any Avengers fans out there? What lineup would you hope for with the possibility of a Favreau led "Avengers" themed flick?

All that said, if they're going to do it the time is now while the iron's still hot.

Edit: I spoke too soon. "The Avengers" has already been announced.

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