Review: ‘All-Out Avengers’ #1 Hits Hard, But Not Always In The Right Way
by Tony Thornley
I love a novel concept in a comic. Starting en media res is always fun, but when that concept is baked into the plot, it makes it even more fun. A concept like that needs to have art that lives up it though, and that may be where All-Out Avengers #1 falls short.
Derek Landy, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Cory Petit bring this unique Avengers series to life.
The Dark Tide has come to Earth, corrupting Captain Marvel, and threatening to overrun the planet. The Earth’s only hope is the Avengers, of course. Underneath it all, there may be a strange force at play behind the scenes that could destroy Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!
First of all, I called this a unique concept, and eagle-eyed readers may notice that it’s basically just the same concept as 2020’s Non-Stop Spider-Man. While that’s partially true, and editor Tom Brevoort acknowledges that in a letter that closes the issue, Landy bakes the concept into the plot.
This isn’t just an “en media res” story that catches you up on how it started later, and it’s not just an all-action book. This cleverly takes a similar concept and makes it more of the story. The omnipotent narrator (and yes, I mean omnipotent, not omniscient) points it out, and at one point Blade says out loud “I don’t remember how this adventure started…”
It’s fun and it makes for an entertaining read, especially with Petit having a lot of fun putting the script on the page. Seriously, the lettering is great, and he depicts the cheeky narration and the exposition-filled dialogue in ways that feel natural, not distracting.
For the story itself, Landy and Brevoort came up with another fun element- this feels like the days before a comic shop, when you’d grab a comic from 7-11, and it would be part 4 of 5. You’d just need to figure it out from context and roll with it. Landy captures that feeling really well, and crafts an entertaining done in one. It’s not the greatest story ever told, it’s not extraordinarily deep, but it’s good popcorn comics that has a unique plot twist.
It does fall short in one major area though, and if you’re a longtime comics fan, you can probably predict what I’m about to say.
The art crashes and burns multiple times, and when it does, it crashes hard. It’s not the fault of Leisten or D’Armata. Both do a solid job with what they’re given. The colors in particular look great in many places. Where it falls down is with Land.
I’ll say this- this is probably the Greg Land comic I’ve enjoyed the most in years. I’ve said to friends in the past that Land is at his best when he has to stretch and draw fantastic events. When he’s doing that here, the pencils actually look pretty good.
But every page of this comic has at least one panel that is outright distracting, thanks to Land’s bad habit of tracing. And it’s not just infamous porn poses (like Captain Marvel getting hit by a repulsor on page 3 or the alien queen close-up on page 10). It’s weird moments, like a panel with Thor where his hair looks like something from Dragonball Z, or the repeated square-jawed, squinted eye pose that Captain America makes several times (not to mention Cap’s disappearing-reappearing stubble).
It’s all the more frustrating because I liked this issue, but I would like to enjoy a comic without reservations or qualifiers. Instead, I’m going to have to make the recommendation that “sure, if you’re a Marvel Universe fan, you’ll probably dig this book, BUT…” which is never fun to say.
So yeah, if you’re a Marvel fan (not just an Avengers fan), you’ll probably enjoy this book. But, you have to go into knowing that you’re going to get the worst of Greg Land’s already bad habits. If you have a low tolerance for that, then maybe you need to hold off on this one.
All-Out Avengers #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.
The concept is fun. The story is even more so. But the line-art is distracting to the point that it’s impossible to recommend this without reservations.