Marvel NOW! arrives at the Avengers leading to a bit of a reshuffle of the team, slightly influenced by a movie that came out last year, which was also called the Avengers (or Avengers Assemble for us in the UK).
We start with a "Previously in Avengers" although, bar one sentence, none of it has actually happened previously. Nope, just a clever way of setting up the story and tease a few upcoming events/new characters. The short of it is Steve Rogers and Tony Stark decide that as problems keep getting bigger, the Avengers need to as well.
A month later on Mars a golden alien, Ex Nihilo, is hurling origin bombs at Earth in order to transform it into a perfect world. He's even having a trail run on Mars by making a perfect man. Alongside him is a wisp-like lady, Abyss, who pretty much thinks destruction is the only thing that can fix the Earth. The third member of their group is the robot Aleph, who serves as umpire and will decide whether the Earth will be transformed or destroyed. Anyway, the Avengers core team (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Bruce Banner/Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye) take exception to the Earth being bombed and decide to head to Mars for a chat. By chat, I mean fight. However, Abyss takes out Hulk by brainwashing him and setting him on Thor, Ex Nihilo deals with Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye, leaving Aleph to stop Cap. Cap is about to be beaten to death by Aleph when Ex Nihilo decides that's not very nice and sends him back to Earth to prepare mankind for their imminent defeat.
Three days and a few band aids later, Cap wakes up and assembles the rest of the Avengers, ready for round 2.
Yet another new Avengers #1 with the onset of Marvel NOW! and it pretty much does what it needs to, welcomes new readers without losing established ones. With a core team of Avengers the same as the movie, new fans have characters they recognise, but there's a bigger team available for bigger problems to appeal existing fans.
The story itself is a simple one, two "bad" aliens want to "improve" the Earth by evolving it or destroying it, their robot ref decides which and the Avengers understandably don't like either option so go to stop them.
Interestingly, Ex Nihilo isn't really that bad. Sure, hurling bombs at Earth not good, but they were "improvement" bombs. He detests the violence the Avengers show and pretty much saves Cap's life. So well placed intentions, but needs work on the way of bringing it about - we'll have to see what happens. I also like the way he thinks Iron Man is some kind of primitive insect-like creature due to his exoskeleton! Nice bit of biological deduction.
I liked the art of the issue and thought it suited the story well. Some nice detailing, especially on the injured Captain America. Bits of the story were a little lazy, like how Ex Nihilo explained he's new man was an "Adam" in his "garden" on Mars. Nice enough analogy, bit of luck this alien guy had read the Bible though!
I look forward to see how this incarnation of Avengers works out and whether they actually get some stories of their own. Avengers Vol. 4 suffered from too many line wide arcs (Fear Itself, Shattered Heroes & AvX) getting in the way and so only really had three stories of their own (Infinity gems, return of the Wasp & time-travelling shenanigans, which set up the upcoming Age of Ultron 3 years later!). With new characters that don't have their own solo title, it stands a chance of being able to tell its own tales, though Spidey's place in stories may suffer because of this.
Nice enough set up, let's see what happens.
Are the Avengers really Earth's Mightiest Heroes? I mean, no offence to Clint and Tasha but if I had to pick a team I doubt Hawkeye or Black Widow would feature, especially with the likes of Thor, Captain Universe and Hyperion. I suppose they can't call them Earth's most popular Heroes who have their own movie!