After a lukewarm launch last month, All-New All-Different Avengers improves on its freshman issue with issue #2. Whereas the first issue of this series felt negatively decompressed, this issue put things together much more concisely and promptly. There’s still a general feeling of Waid feeling things out and slowly putting the pieces of this new Avengers team together, but the action is faster-paced, the pacing is able to match it, and the characterization remains one of the brightest spots in the book.
Right from the start, this issue has better plot cohesion, as the rocky set-up in last issue is quickly brushed past. I’m intrigued by the use of the Chitari Warbringer as the first big bad for the team to face, he isn’t a character that I would have expected to receive the honor. (although I’m still curious about who the new owner of Stark Tower will end up being). Making the connection between Nova and the Avengers’ first villain a personal one makes logical sense, as it gives Nova a reason to head to New York in the first place, whereas the rest of the team resides there. There’s some great team-building here, as Waid makes it clear that Nova has power and enthusiasm, but could benefit greatly from training and refinement. His interactions with Ms. Marvel in this issue certainly bear that out, and makes me look forward to when this arc is over and the team begins acting like a team, and training its junior members. There’s tremendous potential to be mined from that area, but for now we’re still feeling the birthing pangs of the new team.
Ms. Marvel and Nova’s interactions remain the clear highlight of the issue for me. Whereas last issue they had a back-up story which focused on their first meeting, in this issue they take more prominence in the main story. Just as in the previous issue, they get on each other’s nerves and frustrate the hell out of each other. Waid manages to perfectly capture not just each character’s personality, but also what it would be like for these two very different teenagers to be thrust together in a situation where each would prefer the other to not be present in. For Sam, Warbringer is a scary, more personal foe, whereas for Kamala Warbringer is just a new big bad making a mess in her city. They come at it from very different angles, with Sam being impetuous, and not thinking of the ramifications of his running in guns blazing (so to speak), whereas Ms. Marvel is more aware of her surroundings and trying to protect civilians, not to mention property.
Miles Morales remains an interesting conundrum, as his characterization lacks a grounding that isn’t in any way the fault of Mark Waid. All of the other characters in this book have their own ongoing series, not to mention years of history in the 616 Marvel Universe, and yet he at this point in time has neither experience in this reality, nor an ongoing series to speak of (it’s coming eventually). What it means for Waid, and for readers, is that we don’t know where Miles is actually coming from. How old is he? Is he still the Miles we had in the Ultimate universe previously or has he been altered to fit into the current timeline. Without any sense of who this Miles is without his mask on, it makes it hard to connect with the character. Once again, this isn’t the fault of the writer, but it does impact the reader somewhat. That being said, whoever came up with the visual gag of him riding Iron Man’s armour like a skateboard is to be commended.
The artwork by Adam Kubert looks sharper than in the first issue, with my one note of criticism being the way in which he illustrates Nova’s helmet. In Nova’s own solo series, the artists come up with visual characteristics of his armour to help show his age and inexperience, down to the helmet always looking a few sizes too big. There were moments in this issue where Sam didn’t look like a teenager in the outfit and instead looked like an adult Richard Rider. The first shot of him in this issue, for example, makes him look more like his dad than himself, as he looks far too adult.
The team is now all assembled in one place, although not quite a real team. We’re closer to getting an actual Avengers team now and I’m getting more interested and excited in reading more of this book. Although the first issue felt like it was merely average, or slightly above, this new issue felt a lot more solid and enjoyable all the way through. It’s not quite a fantastic read, but we’re starting to see the DNA come together for a true top-shelf book.
A tighter script, better pacing and more nuanced characterization make this new issue of All-New All-Different Avengers a more enjoyable read than the first issue. Kubert's art remains excellent.