Avengers #675 (Marvel Comics)
Runners Up: X-Men Gold Annual #1 (Marvel Comics), Wildstorm: Michael Cray #4
For the past few years, The Avengers have been spread over different titles with very few readers picking up all of them. While the team has prospered as a household name, the brand lacked a consistent identity in the medium it developed in. Al Ewing, coming off of the heinously underrated The Ultimates, Jim Zub from cult favorite Uncanny Avengers and Mark Waid, who has helmed the primary Avengers title for over a year, take steps to put the team back together in Avengers: No Surrender, along with some appropriately grand art from Pepe Larraz. Waid has worked over the last volume of The Avengers to establish a more traditional feel to the book and here, it carries over even when bringing in the other sub-teams into the narrative. Its nice to see that these stories aren’t being ignored, this could have easily turned into a retcon, but thankfully builds off of the last few years of books. As satisfying as Waid’s run has been, I’m most interested in seeing where Ewing’s influence pushes Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. As this issue ended, I couldn’t help but think of Devil’s Due GI Joe’s mega-event, World War III. Not unlike this story, No Surrender brings in all of the players and shows that you don’t have to be off-key to weave a no-nonsense tale with over the top personalities. Marvel has a lot of ground to cover to get back readers, if this stays as interesting going forward, Avengers could help them a lot.
Another book that has been moving well for Marvel is X-Men Gold. In this Annual, we are treated to a celebration of Excalibur‘s 30th Anniversary written by regular series author Marc Guggenheim and guest Leah Williams. You’ll also find dynamic art from Alitha Martinez and a spectacular cover from original series artist Alan Davis. As a long-time fan of Nightcrawler (he might be my favorite Marvel hero), I have fond memories of stumbling upon Excalibur issues and trying to piece together character backgrounds. Gold shares many cast members and a certain tone with the here celebrated title, so it is a more than appropriate venue for the tribute. Though I won’t give away much about the best part of the book (hint: it’s a new character), I truly appreciate how tied this diversion is to the classic storylines, specifically the original run’s final issue.
Last up is Bryan Hill, Warren Ellis, N. Steven Harris and Dexter Vines’ Wildstorm: Michael Cray. Though The Wildstorm has been establishing many characters and concepts for the new Wildstorm Universe, Michael Cray might be the most fun. This twisted DC Multiverse world casts the legendary Justice League members as threats, and the reaction to them is fitting.