By Dan Slott (writer), Khoi Pham (artist), Allen Martinez and Danny Miki (inkers)

Even as I grew to despise Bendis’s writing over the years, I was always willing to give him a chance when it came to The Avengers because they have long been a favorite team of mine since childhood.  From Avengers, New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, and right up to Dark Avengers, Bendis has conned me into thinking that each new iteration of the team might be the one that delivers the kind of epic action and drama that I’ve come to associate with the franchise.  Sadly, every title has let me down.  They’ve become vanity projects for Bendis full of overblown, Seinfeldian dialogue and plots that aren’t nearly exciting enough to justify the $3.99 price tags that are conveniently on his comics.  Needless to say, when I learned that Bendis was leaving Mighty Avengers I became optimistic, and when I read the roster for Slott’s new team, I became excited.  This team, a powerful combination of characters old and new, was a group of Avengers that made sense.  More importantly, it was a team I felt would be fun to read, and so far this title definitely delivers.

Completing the “origin” story of this new team of Avengers, this issue finds Hank Pym, now calling himself Wasp in honor of his late wife, being challenged by none other than Tony Stark for leadership of the group, which has been mysteriously assembled to combat the ancient Chaos god Cthon.  During the conflict egos clash, insecurities arise, a leader emerges, and the team’s malevolent founder is revealed.  In the sea of crap that Bendis has thrown the Avengers franchise into, Slott’s opening storyline on this title is a much needed breath of fresh air.  His script easily balances action, comedy, and characterization in ways that remind me why I’ve loved the Avengers for so long.  Khoi Pham’s art works best on a large scale, and if you don’t believe me, just check out the covers to his first three issues of this comic and tell me you wouldn’t buy a poster of it right now if you could!  Slott and Pham will need a little time to make this title their own, but I’m willing to give it to them because they have finally given me an Avengers comic I can enjoy again.  This is shaping up to be quite a fun comic and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Grade: B+

Tony Rakittke