This book is, I think without a doubt, my favorite Avengers story ever told… and that’s going to be a bit of a controversial statement here on “Avengers Month at the Book Closet,” or at least it would have been 10 years ago. You see for quite a while, there were ‘purist’ Avengers fans: fans who longed for the classic characters like Ant Man and Scarlet Witch to be a part of a team, but with this reinvention we instead got “new” Avengers Spider-Man and Wolverine standing alongside originals like Captain America and Iron Man. And without much hiccup its pretty much been that way ever since, so those ‘purists’ have pretty much had to just deal with it.
This book drives in what The Avengers is all about, and what has been their mission statement from the first issue: heroes coming together to fight a foe that no one hero could have defeated alone. That’s a great premise, but it was never fully realized. Even that first battle waaaaaaay back in Avengers #1, the team came together to just fight Loki. Not Loki and an invading alien army either, as the film represents: just Loki. That scene when the Hulk deals with the “puny god” from the film will let you know how true to ‘that no one hero alone could overcome’ statement is. That’s always been the problem with the Avengers for me: they say that this couldn’t have been done on their own, but Thor has beaten Loki on his own multiple times.
In Breakout, we get possibly the first situation where, yes, no one of them could have defeated this threat on their own (for one reason or another). The plot is so simple a 5-year old could have thought of it: Electro institutes a breakout of the prison for super-villains. Done. That sounds simple, and it is. The plot being so simple is what allows the plot to get out of the way so that the big, big action set-pieces and character moments can occur.
One of the big complaints I had with the start of New Avengers vol 2 was that that new team came together in such a bureaucratic way: Luke Cage just sat around and wondered “Hmmm, who do I want as my Avengers?” That’s boring and anti-climactic and, well, anti-Avengers. The Avengers work best as a team that, to quote Captain America from this very book, “Assemble themselves.” Fate or destiny or blind luck is what brings them together, nothing more and nothing less.
And as for the quota of “no one of them could have handled this alone?” I need point only to the heart-wrenching scene in which a host of villains hold Spider-Man down and snap his arm in two. They needed each other here, and that makes the whole thing that much more grand and epic.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“They needed each other here, and that makes the whole thing that much more grand and epic.”