Marvel’s in continuity offering for Free Comic Book Day may become as relevant to future continuity as 2007’s “Spider-Man: Swing Shift.”

General Information

Title: The Avengers (Free Comics Book Day 2009 Edition)

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrator(s): Jim Cheung (pencils), Mark Morales (inks), John Rauch (colours)

Cover Date: May 2009

Cover Price: $0.00

Premise

Ymir is back, trying to merge his world into Midgard. Thor is unable to stop him on his own, but both the New and Dark Avengers arrive on the scene.

High Point

The team banter. You know exactly how these team members interact with each other and with the other team, often quite comedically.

Low Point

The purpose of Free Comic Book Day is to serve as an icebreaker to get new comic readers started at reading comics, and to give longtime readers a chance to sample titles they don’t normally try. This does a great job of setting up the Dark Avengers members one at a time, but there’s very little to introduce new readers to anyone but Thor, Spider-Man, and the Dark Avengers. Even lapsed readers may be surprised to learn that it’s Clint Barton under the Ronin mask, for example.

The Scores

This is a fairly original issue, depicting the first team up between these two teams. For once, the obligatory “two teams fight, set their differences aside, and then fight the real enemy” story structure actually makes sense. I give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork is very well done. Cheung is great at team action, and has been since his “Young Avengers” days. Even in silouette, it’s clear exactly who each member of the team is, and the action has the right balance of frantic motion and clarity. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story works well enough. The Free Comic Book Day nature of the tale means it’s required to take place in short order, so Bendis has to write a story much shorter than he usually does. Using Spider-Man as the point of perspective offers a nice filter to accomplish this, allowing us to jump in on the battle after it has already started. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is very consistent with what we’ve seen in the past. The Dark Avengers are well showcased, but some of the New Avengers (particularly Ms. Marvel) simply fade into the background, and they aren’t even all named in the story. The recap page has pictures and names, but that’s it. Still, for something this short, quite a few characters had moments to shine. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. It’s a funny issue, that sets the stage for greater confrontation down the road. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow works well. It’s one of the stories that takes place as you read it, with almost no time jumps. When the art is this clear, the rest follows. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent free issue, and one that sets things up very nicely for those looking to the future of these teams. New readers may need some extra background on the members of the New Avengers, but the Dark Avengers at least have enough information to find them on Wikipedia if you want to. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, The Avengers (Free Comic Book Day Edition 2009) receives 35 out of 42.