Today’s Super Comic — Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #13 (2007)

marvel-adventures-avengers-13I’m always happy to see when the major comic book publishers remember that children might want to read comics, too. About a decade ago, Marvel launched its all-ages Marvel Adventures line with that thought in mind. These stories were set outside Marvel’s main (and increasingly convoluted) continuity. They were simpler, cleaner, and more accessible to anyone of any age picking up any random issue.

These Avengers were some of the company’s most recognizable characters—Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, and even Storm and Wolverine from the X-Men. And they stuck closely to their original molds. No major reinterpretations here, just faithful adherence to each character’s core essence. With one big exception.

In Marvel Adventures, Janet Van Dyne did not become the incredible shrinking Wasp. She instead grew into the role of Giant-Girl, which was a very smart decision on Marvel’s part.

Issue #13 reveals Giant-Girl’s origin, and does so with good humor and nice inversions of classic tropes. No dark past or death of a loved one motivates Janet to help others. Rather, the fact that helping others is the right thing to do motivates her. And when Dr. Henry Pym presents her with size-changing technology and suggests shrinking to insect-size, she discovers a more practical application.

So we’ve got a great role model in a story that’s good, clean fun. There’s not much for adults, but it’s a comic you can give your kids without reservation.

Writer: Jeff Parker

Penciler: Leonard Kirk

Inker: Terry Pallot

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; included in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers vol. 4: The Dream Team (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 7 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-New, All-Different Avengers #12 (2016)

all-new-all-different-avengers-12-coverAll-New, All-Different Avengers might just be the best team book currently on the market. The superheroics are solid, and the roster has great chemistry. Except for Iron Man and Vision, none of these characters is the first-generation version of the brand, but each one feels legit.

Issue #12, written by Mark Waid, showcases inventive action, as the team battles a powerful threat in the Negative Zone—but, due to Marvel physics, only one Avenger can be in the Negative Zone at a time, thereby requiring a tag-team strategy.

Meanwhile, the new Wasp bonds with the original, and I’m pleased to see the book forgo any petty squabbling or contrived tension between the two. While Janet Van Dyne will likely always be the best Wasp, this new version shows tremendous promise. She’s eager, she’s sincerely interested in doing the right thing, and the Avengers’ world is new and exciting to her. She has to potential to serve as a fresh viewpoint into the well-established Marvel Universe. Best of all, she’s not a replacement.

This series was well worth springing for the trade.

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Cover: Alex Ross

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in All-New, All-Different Avengers vol. 2: Family Business (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Avengers #275 (1987)

avengers_vol_1_275It’s the Wasp and Ant-Man as David…and the Absorbing Man and Titania as Goliath. Comic book battles are always more exciting when we’re rooting for the underdog, but there’s even more going on here than a pair of superheroes fighting outside their weight class.

Avengers #275 is part of the classic “Under Siege” storyline in which the Masters of Evil infiltrate Avengers Mansion and defeat Earth’s Mightiest Heroes one at a time. As of this issue, the last Avenger standing is the Wasp, and she’s feeling like a failure. After all, the team’s worst defeat has occurred under her watch as chairwoman, and now Hercules lies near-death in the hospital while everyone else is captured by the enemy. But she and guest-star Ant-Man (Scott Lang) are all that stand between two powerful villains and a hospital full of innocents. So she’ll have to put the pity aside and get the job done, redeeming herself and renewing hope for the team in the process.

The best part of knocking down the good guys is watching them get back up again.

Writer: Roger Stern

Penciler: John Buscema

Inker: Tom Palmer

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Avengers: Under Siege (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Avengers #32 (2012)

Avengers_Vol_4_32Brian Michael Bendis kicked off his nearly decade-long stint of writing the Avengers by demolishing the team in the “Avengers Disassembled” arc, so it’s fitting that his final storyline reunited the classic team and un-killed the Avengers’ original heroine.

Issue #32 is the second part of what we might as well call the “Bringing Wasp Back from the Dead” arc, though it’s technically dubbed “End Times.” The team’s roster has swelled considerably and branched off into two squads (maybe three if you count the Secret Avengers, but they’re secret, so…shhhh!), but here much of the focus narrows onto Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Giant Man has they shrink into a micro-world to, they hope, find the Wasp and bring her home, like she’s Matt Damon or something.

So, if you don’t count the Hulk and if you want to grandfather Cap in, that means the story focuses on the original Avengers in all their original glory. Whether it’s due to the history or the characters’ chemistry, watching these five working together is always a treat.

In particular, Bendis’s lively characterization of the Wasp is spot-on, and the reunion scene is about perfect. Even at the end of his run (which finished two issues later), Bendis still had it.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencilers: Mike Mayhew and Brandon Peterson

Inker: Brandon Peterson

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Avengers vol. 5 (TPB) (2013)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up