The newest Epic Collection volume hits the stand as the Avengers and Defenders face off against… each other?! Is it good?
The first third of this epic collection does indeed focus on the titular battle between the Avengers and Defenders. The premise complex, but never overwhelming. It ultimately comes down to Dormammu and Loki manipulating the Defenders into retrieving the Evil Eye, a magical artifact of supreme power. The Evil Eye has been split into six pieces that must be retrieved for the power of the Evil Eye to be wielded.
The story comes to a head when the Avengers are entangled in the mix, tricked by Loki into believing the Defenders are planning to use the Evil Eye for nefarious purposes. Mayhem ensues, climaxing in a bout between Thor and Hulk.
This classic style of superheroics makes Avengers Epic Collection: The Avengers/Defenders War a blast to read from beginning to end. Steve Englehart is the primary writer of this run, though the volume also contains work by Roy Thomas, Jim Starlin, and Gerry Conway. Englehart’s take on the characters is bombastic and fun, utilizing the heroes’ different abilities well.
The artwork here is equally entertaining. Bob Brown and Sal Buscema continually raise the bar as the story bounces between Avengers and Defenders. Brown draws thrilling fights between Swordsman and Valkyrie and between Namor and Captain America, but Buscema’s Thor vs. Hulk heavyweight showdown takes the cake. It’s a lot of fun, with Buscema showing off their strength in some inventive ways.
A big pro to this particular volume is that the primary cast will be familiar to most Marvel fans, even if they’re just coming in from the movies. The Avengers roster features Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Mantis, and the Swordsman. While that final hero has yet to appear in the films, and Mantis is certainly different from her film counterpart, there’s an ease of familiarity here that extends even to the volume’s villains, allowing for readers to jump in without feeling completely lost.
The middle section of the volume, which focuses on ZODIAC, and features some minor villains can’t quite match the energy of the beginning arc, but the end of the volume brings it to a stellar close, with some of the early Thanos material and the return of Ultron.
Is It Good?
While some Epic Collections don’t necessarily live up to the title, The Avengers/Defenders War is a fantastic entry in the line. The classic storytelling and Saturday-morning fun will make it a great read for longtime readers or for those who are looking for a starting point after the film.
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