Although this is the second week that The Avengers has NOT been Number One at the box office - Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) meets Thor (Chris Hemsworth), or Snow White and The Huntsman scored the top spot with $56.3 Million, MIB3 is second with another $29.3 Million, and The Avengers comes in third with ANOTHER 20.3 Million, making it the Number Three movie of all time.
My favorite run on The Avengers, second only to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby was the 1998 Kurt Busiek - George Perez relaunch under the banner Heroes Return. Busiek and Perez were tapped for the relaunch following the year long Heroes Reborn event. This was a huge, monumental relaunch. I would argue that the relaunch of this single title is probably a bigger event than The New 52 reboot - I mean relaunch. A superstar creative team and a flagship title, featuring EVERY Marvel character that had every been an Avenger regardless of how long or short that membership had been - equals a large dose of awesomeness. This relaunch was given a variant cover AND a special Rough Cut issue where Busiek's script was broken down page by page! That tells me that Marvel had quite a bit of confidence in the success of this relaunch with Busiek and Perez.
This was an exciting, thrilling relaunch, matching the excitement of The Avengers on the big screen. Busiek, known for his Marvels four-issue mini-series with the phenomenal Alex Ross and Untold Tales of Spider-Man with Pat Olliffe, was about to reach breakout status. If that can be believed. The Avengers relaunch came alonside The Thunderbolts launch in January 1998. This was before his short run on Justice League of America featuring the Crime Syndicate and the year-long, weekly Trinity series. For Perez, this was like coming home. I had started reading Perez's Avengers around issue #150 through #200, before he moved to DC for a short Justice League of America run and launched The New Teen Titans with Marv Wolfman.
This first issue, both regular and variant, features a foldout cover listing every Marvel character that has ever been a member of the team, from The Beast to Magdalene! The list includes Sandman, Spider-Man and Demolistion Man!
The story begins with Quicksilver, The Scarlet Witch and Crystal having dinner after an excruciating day of coming back from the "dead" and re-establishing their identities. They are attacked by the Flying Trolls of Thryem. Avengers around the world are attacked by mythic creatures. As the attacks continue and spread, Perez's panels shrink and jam together until the creatures just disappear, leaving the individual heroes standing scratching their heads.
An electrical storm builds around Avengers' mansion as Captain America, Giant Man, Iron Man and The Wasp gather to assess the situation. It is amazing how Busiek and Perez set the scene focused around Jarvis delivering tea. A battered Thor arrives and tells his team-mates that there is danger and peril coming. They agree to issue The Call!
Hawkeye, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch are the last three to arrive at the mansion for the briefing. Every hero that has EVER been an Avenger is assembled - except for The Hulk. He tells the team to leave him alone - or else! It is obvious that Perez loves to draw a LOT of characters. His panels of The assembled characters and screen shots of inactive or deceased members is incredible. It is hilarious that NO ONE wants to sit next to D-Man.
Busiek's research is just as cool as Perez's art. He's researched each and every one the mythic attackers, as well as the events going on in Spider-Man's title to keep him from being part of the teams that set off in search of the Norn Stones. This attention to detail will eventually show up in Busiek's Avengers Forever series with Carlos Pacheco.
The main team that Busiek and Perez put together to face Modred and Morgan is really unique! Captain America, Crystal, D-Man, Hercules, Quasar, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch. Morgan tells Cap's team that the other teams are doomed to failure, as he plot really is to not only capture the sword with the stones, but to combine her magic with Wanda's to remake the world!
This first issue of The Avengers: Heroes Return shows off how much Kurt Busiek and George Perez love characters. They are both character-driven storytellers. There is so much action and "Patented Perez Rubble" here in The Avengers #1, but moreso there is the team. Each of the members, both past and present are here in character. It is an awesome spectacle to behold!
If you can find the individual issues of this epic run or the trade paperbacks it is well worth it. With The Avengers, both Marvel and Disney are proving superiority over DC and Warner Brothers. Get used to seeing the team and its members for quite a long time!