Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Aaron Kuder, Cam Smith, Jason Keith, Triona Farrell, and VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 22nd, 2021
Marvel has been dipping their toes into the multiverse pool for a while now, and with Avengers Forever #1, they’re diving into the deep end, with mixed results. Most of the action this issue is centered on Earth-818, a dystopic wasteland of a world that’s a combination of Nazi Germany and the post-apocalyptic land of Mad Max. I liked the dark beginning presented in Avengers Forever #1, it’s a much grimmer version of good old Marvel Earth-616. I was honestly surprised at how dark it got. You really feel for the people in this world, who are being subjugated and experimented on, and it makes the story gripping.
The overarching villains for this series, at least at the beginning, are a multiversal Masters of Evil, which seems a bit silly when dealing with concepts of mass genocide. The name “Masters of Evil” always made me think of clichéd mustache-twirling villains, and the only time I thought they carried any weight was in Roger Stern and John Buscema’s brilliant “Under Siege” storyline way back in Avengers #270 to #277 (in 1986), when Baron Zemo formed an overwhelming army of nearly 20 villains to take down the Avengers. It was the only time the Masters really seemed like a threat. I hope Jason Aaron can make this version of the Masters just as intimidating.
Additionally, I’ve never been a fan of Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider or Deathlok, the two heroes of the book from Earth-616, and this issue didn’t change my mind. Robbie’s Ghost Rider comes off like a one-note killing machine akin to The Punisher and Deathlok comes off robotic and reserved, questioning Robbie’s every action. The two argue but their dialogue comes off hollow, it doesn’t feel like genuine conflict. It’s like watching a buddy cop film with Kirk and Spock from “Star Trek”, except in this case, Kirk is completely psychotic and Spock is all befuddled questions with no answers. When you have two characters dialed to 1000 in two opposite directions, it just doesn’t work, at least not in this case.
Thankfully, we’re shown a hero based on Earth-818 who’s far more interesting, an amalgamation of two familiar heroes from Earth-616, and I look forward to his inevitable run-in with Ghost Rider and Deathlok, hopefully, to give them both a good swift kick in the behind and become the star of the series.
Aaron Kuder’s art for Avengers Forever #1 is wonderfully detailed, especially in the battle scenes. In one splash page, in particular, Ghost Rider spews hellfire and the page is filled with swirling orange plasma that you can swear is generating heat, it’s so vivid. His illustration of the fascist nightmare landscape of Earth-818 is bone-chilling, with huge statues of overlords looming over withered starving prisoners being shuffled across barren deserts. I look forward to seeing Kuder’s depiction of other Earths in the future. This series will allow him to really cut loose.
Avengers Forever #1 sets up the book’s premise with the darkest beginning possible, and really gets you invested in the fate of Earth-818. Despite the fact the two main characters are lackluster, the other characters in the book make up for this, and I look forward to seeing where the story goes next.