Avengers: Endless Wartime Review
Obviously, Marvel’s been on a roll lately with their movies. The Avengers and Iron Man 3 broke pretty much every record at the box office, and the recent Thor: The Dark World has raked in plenty of money as well. Surely a large part of this newfound audience would be interested in reading further adventures of these superheroes, but then there’s the tricky bit of years upon years of character history and story continuity. Smartly, Marvel is introducing a new series of self-contained graphic novels requiring minimal comic lore knowledge, dubbed OGN. The first entry in this series is Avengers: Endless Wartime, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Mike McKone.
The Avengers here are most definitely the cinematic version of the team, with the addition of Wolverine, Captain Marvel and a surprise guest appearance by Bruce Banner near the end. Iron Man talks just like the Robert Downey Jr. version, and for the most part I was able to read the dialogue of Thor and Captain America in Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans’ respective voices. A few elements feel a bit strange though, such as Captain America’s refusal to kill anyone (as Wolverine puts it, he’s the only saint of World War II), and the entire team really hates Iron Man. Also, both Thor and Cap seem to look down on Wolverine, and despite Cap’s qualms with murder he has no problem siccing him on whatever needs killing.
The main story in Avengers: Endless Wartime revolves around both Thor and Captain America’s pasts, and honestly the events setting up the narrative are far too coincidental to not feel shoehorned in. Especially an event in the 1940s where Thor and Steve Rogers just happened to be in the same place at the time, just so that Ellis could make the central villain a Nazi Ice Dragon From Hell (yes, you read that correctly). This monster is set up as the ultimate unstoppable war machine, a living, uncontrollable cyborg nightmare that only a force like The Avengers could stop it. Well, as it turns out, it only takes one of them – and the final battle doesn’t even happen on the page. Captain Marvel (who gets plenty of face time in this book) shows up at the battleground to ask what the hell happened – and the events are told to us rather than shown. While Avengers: Endless Wartime is written fairly well (though some of the dialogue felt forced), the ending is definitely anticlimactic and disappointing.
There’s also a low amount of action in this book – while a few standout sequences appear, such as Wolverine Vs. Nazi Ice Dragon, Thor Vs. OG Ice Dragon and Captain America Vs. Nazi warship, many of the pages are filled with the characters sitting around talking, trying way too hard to say something snarky or witty to each other. I understand that there’s a lot of exposition to get out of the way (and yet still, the plot feels convoluted and hard to follow), but it doesn’t all have to happen on board the Quinjet. Mike McKone’s artwork is generally very good, but his male faces look odd and some of the layouts get a bit messy during action sequences. Avengers: Endless Wartime also has integration with the Marvel AR app, which animates a few sequences throughout the book and adds some narration and background information.
Overall, I found Avengers: Endless Wartime to be a worthwhile read, if not quite up to the standards that Warren Ellis has set for himself in the past. Fans of the movies will get a kick out of it, and there’s just enough action and interesting plot developments within these pages to keep you reading until the end. Here’s hoping that the second OGN outing, Spider-Man: Family Business, does the self-contained story thing a little bit better.