Review: GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #1

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GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #1
Written by Zac Gorman
Art by Will Robson, Tamra Bonvillain, Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 12, 2016

My first thought upon opening Great Lakes Avengers #1 was, “Dang. Ms. Ferrari’s assistant looks a LOT like a female version of Arcade.” But I didn’t let myself get too hung up on Amy’s resemblance to one of the most murderous menaces in the Marvel Universe beyond that simple similarity in her attire, thanks to colorist Tamra Bonvillain. At this point, I’ll take it as a coincidence, but writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robson may be in on a secret with Bonvillain, all the better to plug in early.

The story sets out with Flatman – Dr. Val Ventura – on the receiving end of a visit from Connie Ferrari, who is legally representing the Avengers. Without revealing too much, the visit sparks a reunion, and Flatman sends out the call for the Great Lakes Avengers to reunite. At this point, however, the GLA members wind up just being Flatman, Big Bertha, and Doorman. There are cameos from Squirrel Girl and Mr. Immortal, as well as a Dinah Soar Easter egg. Gorman focuses on the character of the characters rather than their origins or history, giving readers significant opportunity to learn who they’re reading about.

Letterer Joe Caramagna provides an assist in that regard, giving the GLA members quick caption-based rundown paragraphs when they first appear. The dialog flows nicely around Robson’s clean art, and the story even provides Caramagna ample opportunity for his word balloon-busting dialog. Rounding out the visuals, Caramagna helps ensure that Great Lakes Avengers #1 is visually straightforward, which amplifies the wackiness present in the issue nicely.

There’s just enough silliness in Great Lakes Avengers #1 to remind readers that this team was conceived when the Justice League International stories were at their peak, blending heroes and humor to entertain readers. It’s no coincidence that the Great Lakes Avengers return since Marvel NOW! has a few lighthearted comics of their own on the racks nowadays, with this title joining Deadpool, Howard The Duck, Gwenpool, Squirrel Girl, and others.

Robson’s art is well suited to that genre, as his characters are expressive and animated, whimsical and cartoony, but detailed enough to not be dismissible. It certainly helps that he has a wide range of characters to work with, mixing in Ferrari and Amy, a brief cameo from a few All-New, All-Different Avengers, and a collection of “regular” people to play against Flatman, Bertha, Doorman, a werewolf, and visual oddities Pitchfork, Firebrand, and Shriek. Bonvillain makes a sharp color study of the issue, with different lighting sources impacting the mood and temperature throughout Great Lakes Avengers #1. There are spots where the colors aren’t influenced by the lighting where Bonvillain lets the vibrancy of the Marvel Universe shine through.

Great Lakes Avengers #1 is a fun (re-)introduction to a squad of heroes introduced by John Byrne during his West Coast Avengers run. It brings former members of the team together, establishes a new base of operations, and sets a plan in motion to give the GLA purpose. There are plenty of floating pieces still to be pinned down, but I like what I see so far from Gorman, Robson, Bonvillain, and Caramagna.

The Verdict: 8.0/10

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