In 2015, Marvel launched an initiative that continues to this day with their All-New All-Different line. It started with relaunching many of the company’s core titles, some of them with different characters picking up iconic roles previously held by other heroes.
For this double-feature, I’m taking a look back at two titles that helped kick off this brand new direction for Marvel: All-New All-Different Avengers #1, which reinvigorated Marvel’s flagship title with a new roster, and Spider-Man #1, which brought the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales into the traditional Marvel Universe at last.
ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS
When Marvel began All-New All-Different, this was the title that I was most excited about. Jonathan Hickman was just coming off of his long run on Avengers that turned the title into a sci-fi, reality-altering epic that culminated in the company-wide Secret Wars event. As the dust of that series settled, with Hickman completing his long-term plans, the idea of Avengers starting anew with a fresh cast and a grounded, more street-level story seemed like the perfect way to reinvigorate the title.
The new creative team is Mark Waid on story, Adam Kubert on art, Sonia Oback on colors, Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig on art duties for the back-up story, and VC’s Cory Petit lettering both sections. After Bendis’s landmark run and Hickman’s breath-taking space opera, Waid gives us an Avengers that embraces the humor that has made the Marvel Studios films work so well, as well as the fun and left-of-center direction that Marvel Comics has taken with series like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye run. Still, it’s very much its own thing, with a cast of heroes that bounce off of each other in interesting, dynamic ways.
The roster has some of the usual suspects, with a few twists as the Avengers title embraces the All-New All-Different era. They’ve got Sam Wilson as Captain America, Tony Stark as Iron Man, Jane Foster as Thor, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales as Spider-Man, and the Vision. The first issue introduces the characters to us as a team (and some of them to each other, for the first time) with a fast-paced story that is both culturally relevant and incredibly fun.
Something old, something new. Brian Michael Bendis has been telling Miles Morales stories for a long time now, but I confess… this was the first one I’ve read, if we don’t count his appearance in the Avengers title. I never really gave the Ultimate Universe a shot, because, as a reader who started getting into superhero comics later in life, the idea of navigating two Marvel Universes was a little too difficult to me. Even so, I knew I had to tune in when it was announced that Miles – formerly of Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker’s successor when that version of the character died – was coming into the Marvel Universe proper.
Spider-Man continues Miles’ story, while also introducing him to readers like me. Joined by artist Sara Pichelli, inking assistant Gaetano Carlucci, colorist Justin Ponsor, and letterer Cory Petit, Bendis introduces Miles Morales with a story that is 4 parts Miles and 1 part Spider-Man… which is exactly what I love about Bendis. His Avengers run was such an engaging read, because while he did essentially change the course of the Marvel Universe multiple times with sweepingly epic Avengers-driven event books, a major focus of his writing was spending time with the characters when they weren’t off saving the world. My favorite issue of New Avengers was entirely about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones interviewing other heroes to pick the best babysitter for their kid. There aren’t many writers who would attempt such a thing, and fewer who can pull it off, but Bendis’s characters seem more real as both superheroes and people because of the way he seemingly integrates their personal lives into the necessary superhero drama. Spider-Man, at least in this first issue, seems even more focused than his Avengers titles, centering on Miles and his small cast of family and friends.
And come on. Sara Pichelli is one of the absolute best in the game. Her artwork is both detailed, stylized, and at times uniquely frightening. While I mostly picture her stellar take on Spider-Man’s poses mid-swing when thinking of her art, this issue features some of her most stellar work so far… and by far her most unsettling.
NEXT: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!
PAT SHAND writes comics (Destiny NY, Hellchild, Van Helsing), novels (Avengers, Iron Man, Charmed), and pop culture journalism (Blastoff Comics, Sad Girls Guide). Follow him on social media @PatShand, where he might be the only person still tweeting enthusiastically about Pokemon Go.