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Avengers: Season One [Review]

Writer: Peter David
Artists: Andrea DiVito, Jon Buran, Nigel Raynor, Mike Bowden, Walden Wong
Color Artist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art: Adi Granov
Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas
Associate Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

When I heard that Avengers Season One was going to be included with the Walmart edition of the DVD/Bluray, I was pretty much “sold” on the spot. By the time this came out, though, I’d resigned myself to some sort of DVD-case-digest-size book, probably on crummy paperstock and not at all reasonably worth the added cost (though if it was one of these sets priced the same as the non-set package, it’d totally be worth it!)

The package felt suitably heavy, though, when I finally bought it the morning the thing was available. When I opened the package, seeing the pages-out, I was ready to be incensed at the actual packaging…until I slid out a full-size TPB volume that would easily command a $14.99+ cover price if it were being sold by itself. Even at some “bargain” $9.99 price, in and of itself the book makes the added cost worthwhile if you’re interested in the book itself.

The physical package is your average Marvel paperback. The cover stock and pages, and dimensions are as any other Marvel volume that this would be indistinguishable as an ‘exclusive’ if it wasn’t for the notice on the cover where the pricing would be “Custom Edition Not For Resale.” (That, and that this is a paperback where I believe thus far the other Season One books have been only in hardback).

The writing is solid–and I’d expect no less of David‘s work. He knows these characters and it shows–though in a way it reminds me that I myself do not know these characters particularly well in their pre-1990s iterations. While the writing is solid–it manages to capture these characters in a suitably generic sort of way–they’re recognizable without being placed entirely in the silver age nor the modern age. The relationships seem familiar to what I know of them in the comics, while bordering on adapting the movie versions.

Visually, much of the book is the same way. There are multiple artists (depicting different scenes/settings) which works fairly well as it differentiates what each character is seeing/doing through the story. Though it works, I got a distinct sense that I’m supposed to associate these comics with the characters from the movies, that this story is supposed to fit either the comics or the movie universe according to primary experience.

Sure, that works well enough–it is a tie-in product, after all. But the fact it evoked the movie characters as much as it did took me out of the story and left me unsure where the story’s supposed to be set, and I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if it felt like it was more based in the traditional comics story. I suspect I was also soured a bit by a one-shot I read earlier this year that was set in the movie universe that itself felt like a waste of time.

If this was a $15 paperback or $20+ hardcover being sold by itself, I’d be pretty disappointed despite the creative talent involved and wondering if there’d be some way to get a refund. Standing solely on its own this–to me–is not something worth seeking out specifically.

But as a bonus included with a blu-ray I was already planning to buy, this gets points as a decent read, with art that never felt bad or out of place. And though it’s the size of 4-5ish single issues, I don’t think I paid more for this package than the cost of two standard Marvel comics in addition to the actual blu-ray pack.

All that said–you get a complete story in this volume. There’s no cliffhanger directing you into some other volume or series of volumes; this is not a prologue to a crossover/event nor some epilogue/continuation of a crossover/event. You have the characters, you see their adventure, the threat(s) they face, and you have resolution.

If you’ve seen the movie, the characters don’t particularly contradict the film. Or if you read this and then watch the film, stuff works overall.

And really, on the whole, I’m glad I went with the Walmart purchase for this book. If you can still find the blu-ray/DVD package with this graphic novel at your local Walmart, and want the Avengers film anyway, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

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Avengers, The Dark Knight Returns, and product placement

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I liked the Avengers movie. I saw it three times opening weekend. Friday by myself, Saturday with friends after our Free Comic Book Day comic-shop-crawl, and Sunday with a friend for our annual catch-up/hangout.

I could have seen it again that Monday with other friends at a local theater’s $5-Monday-Night-Movie-Deal and again that Tuesday at a screening hosted by my LCS, but the latter two didn’t happen.

avengersmovieandgraphicnovelAnd now the film’s out, and as usual with various store exclusives. I understand Best Buy has some sort of “steel case” variant if you pre-ordered the film. Target has an extra bonus disc with even more bonus features not included with the non-Target editions of the film. And Walmart’s got a gift pack that comes with Avengers Season One, a 100+ page Original Graphic Novel.

I am rather pleased with the graphic novel that came with the film. I was expecting a digest-sized paperback of questionable physical quality. What I got was a full-size TPB edition on standard, good quality paper…a volume that by pagecount would probably retail for at least $12.99 if not $14.99 to $17.99 with Marvel’s pricing these days.

Now, for some reason–intentional or not–Warner Bros. also released their newest direct-to-home-media animated feature Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 on the same day.

darknightreturnsbrdcoverSince I was already there for the Avengers, I got Batman at Walmart as well; Best Buy’s been–for me–inconsistent with whatever figurine or such they package with these anymore, so wasn’t worth the hassle of even trying to mess around with multi-stores-in-a-day.

While I may comment more at-length on DKR, suffice to say that I was quite distracted (in a good way, I think) at some conspicuous “product placement” in the film (below).

During a scene with Commissioner Gordon stopping off at a convenience store, we see the shop owner taking a couple cases outside, passing a magazine rack of comics. I thought I spotted the Swamp Thing logo, and backed it up–where I realized there was more to see than just a Swamp Thing comic:

comicsindkrpt1-01

Above we see the covers of Swamp Thing 73, Sandman 1, Crisis on Infinite Earths 1, and Watchmen 1. Below we see the Swamp Thing cover mirrored (though the logo still works?) and the Sandman issue again, as well as V for Vendetta–which seems to be the cover from a paperback collected edition, but I’m not sure that was one of the original covers for a single issue.

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