The Avengers name is a hot property right now. If you go to your local comic shop and look at the shelves, you’ll see seven comics with “Avengers” in the title. That kind of saturation can be confusing for the consumer, making it difficult to figure out what makes each book stand out, and last week, Marvel made it even more confusing by adding yet another Avengers title. Mighty Avengers is the first ongoing series to spin out of the events of Infinity, and this week I thought I would take a look at what makes it stand out from the other, similarly named, titles.
The very first thing you’ll notice when you pick up Mighty Avengers is that this book looks different than other team books. I don’t mean the art, because frankly the art by Greg Land is a firm mark in the “con” column, but the make-up of the team. The majority of the team in this book are non-white and there are also several women. In this day and age that shouldn’t be that unusual, and yet it is. If you look at the other comics available on the market, you’ll find very little minority representation of any sort.
Some people will no doubt call a predominately non-white team a gimmick, and it may well end up being treated that way by Marvel, but I think such accusations are premature. One of the biggest problems with the writing of minority characters in other books is that they end up becoming “token” characters. When a team only has one female character, she becomes a representation of all women first and a unique character in her own right second. The same goes for characters of color. By having a team that has several minority characters on it, the writers will hopefully be able to sidestep that issue and allow the characters to be complex and unique individuals instead of broad stereotypes or political mouthpieces.
The first issue of Mighty Avengers also sets up another kind of diversity in the form of class tensions. The characters who are coming together on this team are mostly street-level heroes who aren’t rich. The core of the team is Luke Cage and his rebuilt Heroes for Hire. These are heroes who want to help people, but also have to worry about putting food on their own tables and taking care of their families. There is early friction between Spider-Man (the “Superior” Doc Ock version) and the other heroes because he looks down on their mercenary approach to heroism.
The most interesting part of the first issue is seeing how each character approaches the morality of being paid for being a hero. There is no right or wrong answer here, but there are a lot of opinions. Ava Ayala (the current White Tiger) agrees with Spider-Man that she shouldn’t be profiting off of her powers while Victor Alvarez (the current Power Man) is firmly of the opinion that Spider-Man is a hypocrite since he takes Stark and city money as an Avenger. Luke Cage is more conflicted considering his past as both an Avenger and a Hero for Hire. I appreciate it when comics allow for discussions like this, leaving it up to the reader to decide what they think.
Ultimately, I think the aspect of this book that has the most potential to make it stand out from all of the other Avengers titles is that the characters are easy to relate to. For example, Luke Cage is the team leader and is also one of the few Marvel characters who has been allowed to grow significantly over the last decade. He’s gotten married and had a child, and now those pressures play into his decisions. He initially left the Avengers because he wanted to focus on taking care of his daughter, but now we see that he has reopened Heroes for Hire to try to support his family. He misses being an Avenger, but the added danger and instability of that life is not what he wants for his daughter.
Marvel and DC both have a history of rejecting marriage for being an uninteresting source of stories. Marvel jumped through hoops several years ago to erase Peter Parker’s marriage, and just this month, DC has come out with the opinion that none of their characters should get married, which you can read more about in So What’s With Batwoman?: Why This Is Important by Kari Woodrow. I think it’s a shame they feel that way, because Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ growth as a couple and as parents has been a real shining light in Marvel over the last decade.
Marriage doesn’t automatically mean characters have a perfect life, and I’m excited to see how his desire to be a good father and husband affects Luke in this book. He wants to make the world a better place for Danielle, but he’s torn about the best way to do that. As a thirty-something-year-old comic reader, that struggle is interesting to me. There are a lot of comic characters motivated by vengeance or who desire redemption or who are outcasts thrust into their roles, but there aren’t a lot of characters with families and young children to take care of, which makes Luke’s story feel fresh.
It’s too soon to know whether Mighty Avengers will be able to grow a readership with so many other Avengers titles available, but I hope it does. If it lives up to its early promise, this could be one of the most unique team books on the market with its focus on lesser-known heroes, diversity, and real world problems. Besides, as a Luke Cage fan, I am extremely excited to see him back in an ongoing title.
Check out Mighty Avengers for yourself at your local comic shop or buy it on comixology.
What do you think about Mighty Avengers? I’d love to discuss them with you in the comments!