Tarot is a new series by some of the comic book industry’s most important creators. It features the Avengers and the Defenders — a “non-team,” as the solicit puts it — in a new adventure that spans different times. Can a group of heroes with their own agendas play nice with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? More importantly, will we care? For the most part, yes!
At this point, Alan Davis has solidified himself as one of the greatest Marvel Comics creators ever. His work with Claremont on Excalibur, his work on Thanos stories with Jim Starlin, and his various contributions to series like Guardians of the Galaxy have made him a cornerstone of Marvel history. It’s fun to see these versions of the characters from the ’70s or ’80s get a brand new story. It has an old school vibe, but a modern sensibility thanks to the art and swifter writing style.
This is a good example of how stories set earlier in the superhero timeline can work quite well. If you’re on the fence since it’s not technically affecting the canon of today, fear not, as Davis and Renaud capture the various characters quite well here. It’s important to note they’re all written as they may have been back in the ’80s which puts a slightly different twist on them. That’s important since it’s establishing these characters earlier on in their tenure as heroes in the 616. It’s fun to see how Thor and a slightly more animalistic Hulk interact, for instance, and Namor is written quite well too. It might be a tad strange at first to see these characters not quite familiar with each other, but it’s a fun way to explore this period of the character’s lives.
It’s also impressive how well the creative team has weaved in a mystery or two to be explored later. It’s a back-burner subplot that’ll have you scratching your head and wanting more. Davis does a great job economically setting up stories with the Defenders, Avengers, and a World War II plot too. The comic doesn’t waste time in a tightly written script that’ll hook you on a first read-through.
The art by Renaud with colors by Paul Mounts is strong too. Fight-comic action is great, along with key moments revealing character wrinkles. The various heroes are placed on a pedestal at various times, allowing them to be featured well. With team books, it can often be the case that some characters fall to the wayside, but really every single one gets a moment to shine. The villains have that dastardly feel too, which suits the earlier timeline this is taking place in.
Having just read Marvel’s latest Defenders Epic Collection and loving the offbeat nature of the team, I found myself loving their depiction here. Sure, this iteration of the team doesn’t have Beast or Angel, but it’s fun to see the “non-team” get more time to shine. This is the kind of Avengers/Defenders book that’ll make you go back to your long boxes thirsty for more. Strong character writing, plotting, and efficient storytelling means a hell of a good superhero read.