Saturday, September 10, 2011

Avengers: Prime by Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer

Once, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor were part of the Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes. They considered each other friends and were there for one another. But the Civil War shattered the friendship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, along with Steve's death and eventual rebirth.. Now, the Avengers are back, in name only, as the shattered friendship between the two causes friction in a team that was once strong and vital to be fractured by the distrust that has arisen between them. Even Thor is not immune to this, as his long absence from the team has caused issues of its own.

But now Odin has been overthrown, and Asgard has been relocated to America, specifically Oklahoma City, and ruined. But even after the Avengers defeated Normal Osborn and gave him some much well-deserved payback, in the aftermath, nothing has changed among the three main Avengers. They spend their time arguing instead of accomplishing anything, and even the other Avengers find themselves stunned by what is happening.

But as the Avengers try to clean up the mess that used to be Asgard on Earth, a portal appears in Heimdall's Observatory, pushing the three squabbling heroes into the Nine Worlds connected by the World Tree, and into the chaos left behind. The Enchantress rules over Midgard, but even she is no match for Hela, the Asgardian God of Death, who has found the Twilight Sword, and with it is looking forward to ruling all nine Realms.

Separated by the portals that brought them to the Nine Realms ruled by Asgard, Tony Stark is deprived of his armor and menaced by a Dragon, while Steve Rogers lands among elves both beautiful and monstrous. Meanwhile, the Enchantress goes after Thor in an attempt to defeat him while Hela stands back until she is forced to confront Thor on her own. But can she rely on her supposed Ally, the Enchantress, and can the three former friends rekindle their friendship and work together to get back to Asgard on Earth and defeat Hela's foul scheme? Or will the Dragon Fafnir and the army of dead, elves and other monstrosities cobbled together by Hela and the Enchantress prove too much for them to overcome in their state of fractured friendship?

This is the miniseries that was Brian Michael Bendis's last work on the Avenger, bookending stories that began with Avengers Disassembled. And in this, he restores the status quo of the book that he took over years ago, rebuilding the friendshipa and trust that underlay the Avengers team. But even though it has that serious goal, the book comes off as good, lighthearted fun, with plenty of color and almost no grit or gray-brown moody "realism".

Wisecracks flow fast and free, most notably from Iron Man, one in which he's naked and when Cap asks where his armor went, he tells Cap that his new armor is just invisible... And later, when he gets his circa-1980's era armor back (with just enough tools to be able to help him be more than a guy in a tin can), he tells Cap that despite all this armor lacks, he still has roller skates... which he can use if they ever come across a paved road... So, it's not serious at all, despite all the fighting and such that they undergo, it's never taken so seriously that you feel that the characters are in any serious danger of failing to overcome their foes. And even Cap seems to view this side trip like Superhero summer camp, where you go to make friends and have adventures and a good time.

The book and miniseries ends with the heroes back in Oklahoma City/Asgard on Earth, ready once more to start cleaning up the carnage as the rest of the Avengers gape at how their attitudes towards each other have suddenly changed. It's not a necessary book to own, but it's fun to read, and you should either read it from your local library or wait until it comes out in paperback. Fun, but like Cotton Candy- kind of vapid in retrospect. Recommended, but not highly. You may want to read before you buy.

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