I had a hard time believing we needed further stories in the Wastelands, especially after Logan died. Then I read the last Dead Man Logan trade by Ed Brisson and Mike Henderson and realized they were onto something. An alternate dimension where the heroes lost, where crazy gangs seemingly always ruled in a Mad Max world where there is no law is a great place to host a story. You just need the characters. Brisson proved he had them at the end of Dead Man Logan, and proved it further with the first issue of this interesting new series. I was still hesitant though, since the second issue can make or break a book. Luckily, Brisson and Jonas Scharf pull it off.
We left off the last issue with Captain America showing up to help the brand new Thor (daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones), a young Hulk (the baby Logan saved), and a new Ant-Man (super genius). How could this be if Cap is dead? We find out and more with a well-timed flashback in this issue that adds a bit more color to what happened after the heroes fell and how Dr. Doom kept order. It’s twisted and fits right in with his personality. It also creates a new kind of Cap that is less squeaky clean, but how can you be in a world where folks will literally tear your arms off if you look at them wrong? These are questions you’ll ponder while Dr. Doom takes out threats and looks for our heroes.
The joy of this story is how it revels in the Elseworlds characters, mixing things up, bringing back familiar faces, and drawing your interest into what the deal is with this strange possible future. A few of these fun oddities show up, further mixing things up and making the world more interesting. The world is Brisson’s oyster here and he’s doing well to surprise readers.
Scharf is handing in excellent artwork here, be it in action, splashy pages, or disturbing moments you may want to look away from. There is a moment in a flashback that had me looking through my fingers as it was so disturbing. Dr. Doom has a scary nature to him, yet is cast in a lot of shadows, making me wonder who is under the mask which is a big part of the fun in this series. There is a brutal moment of violence from Cap that felt even more brutal thanks to the way Scharf draws the manic nature of the character in the heat of battle.
I will admit two classic characters are used who I was unfamiliar with, which made their reveals interesting, but they didn’t blow me away. Using deep cut characters makes sense — you can’t reveal all the big ones right off the bat, especially with many of them dead, but they still warrant a shrug over a gasp.
This is turning out to be a good post-apocalyptic road trip story filled with superhero surprises and crazy twists. Avengers of the Wastelands is like if Mad Max was using the Marvel Encyclopedia as its source material. It’s from the mind of a maniac who loves superheroes.