Does anybody remember the Great Lakes Avengers? For nearly three decades, they’ve been one of the biggest jokes in the Marvel Universe. Even “Z-list” doesn’t adequately convey just how far down on the totem pole that the GLA really are. In fact, someone would have to create letters beyond “Z” to do that. But as of this week, the GLA is back, and they’re officially Avengers!
Writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robson are behind Marvel’s new Great Lakes Avengers series, which has a fun way of legitimizing the team without diminishing the Avengers brand. The short version is that Flatman is bribed with the recognition that the GLA has always craved in exchange for signing over his dubious claim to the Avengers name itself. It may not have held up in copyright court, but just go with it.
The first thing we have to say about this book is that Robson’s pages are gorgeous, and he’s got a gift for comedic expressions. The premise for this book is pretty inherently goofy, but the art really carries it. Flatman essentially became the leading character as he attempted to reunite the surviving members of the team: Big Bertha, Doorman, Mr. Immortal, and Squirrel Girl.
One of the unfortunate side effects of Squirrel Girl’s recent prominence is that she’s now too “big time” for this book. She makes a cameo appearance, but her absence from the team definitely had an adverse affect on the rest of the issue. Gorman’s take on the characters didn’t really pop off the page, and some of his humor felt forced. We want to laugh at the GLA’s latest misadventures, but there were times where it just wasn’t very funny. Considering that this is supposed to be a comedy book, that’s a pretty big problem.
That’s not to say that the book isn’t enjoyable. And we have to wonder if Gorman is giving an intentional shout-out to the infamous Justice League Detroit era by transplanting the GLA to the Motor City. Some of the supervillain banter also had shades of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ comedic Justice League run, which is a promising approach. We’re not quite sure what to make of the potential new member, Good Boy; who despite the name, is actually a young woman who can turn into a werewolf. Her part of the book had one of the few serious moments in the script, which made it feel out of place with the rest of the issue. If we got to pick the new members, we’d add Pansy, the young woman who appeared late in the issue. Pansy didn’t display any powers, but she had the perfect irreverent attitude for this series.
The final page reveal was kind of a head-scratcher, and perhaps not the best hook to end the issue on. But we still think that there’s a lot of potential here. If Gorman’s writing can match the quality of Robson’s art, then Great Lakes Avengers has a good shot to be on our regular reading list.
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: Marvel Comics