The Heroic Age is here.
How do we know? Well, the first issue of The Avengers (that's right, without a modifier) is here and on the third page Steve Rogers (you know, the most heroic of them all) says that what the world needs is heroes.
But not just any heroes... the world needs the Avengers. This is a moment that I've been waiting for, a moment that I've been dying for, a moment where our heroes get to be heroes again. By no means do I intend to criticize superhero deconstruction; it has its place and for good reason. In many ways, it got people to start taking comics seriously, because it proved that comics, just like any other medium, could blur the lines and convince readers to cheer for flawed people, just like they cheered for perfect ones. This is all well and, as I said, extremely important to the history of comics, but it lost the track when it forgot that we like to pretend that we can be our heroes, because we aren't perfect and we aren't brave and we aren't strong. But we would like to be.
It feels damn good to remember that.
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. hit every note here. I've ragged on Bendis in the past for being too wordy and at the same time saying too little. I've derided his comics as often actionless dialogue-fests where nothing happens and all the bright and colorful superheroes are, well, boring. It is important, therefore, for me to just come out and say that this comic is not those comics. Every word has its place, there are great character moments (like Wonderman's refusal to join the Avengers or Thor not knowing who Bucky Cap is), there's a ton of action and, unlike Siege, the book feels fulfilling- this is great comics writing. Not ground-breaking. Not necessarily literary. But damn good. Bendis' script only hits one sour note, and that's at the end- I won't spoil it for you, but I'll suffice it to say that if you read any of Mark Millar's Fantastic Four, you've seen this reveal before. It feels so tired that it must have been used before, too.
Despite that, Bendis spins a great story and JRJR is nothing but a help. His panel design is brilliant and easy to understand, he fluctuates between drawing action and static scenes with incredible ease and damn does this man draw the Avengers well. Not a single costumed character is off-model and my biggest complaint is that Steve's hair is probably too long.
If that's my only quibble, this man should win an Eisner.
If you were on the fence about this issue? Pick it up. Don't bother with the backmatter (prose really needs to stay out of comic books), but even without it it's worth the extra dollar. This is a damn good comic book and, hopefully, it'll remain this easy to remember why my heroes are my heroes.