Avengers: end­less war­time

Comic Heroes - - Front Page - WRI TER : War­ren El­lis Artist: Mike Mckone Pub­lisher: Out: Now James Love­grove

Marvel

Avengers: End­less War­time is the first in a se­ries of orig­i­nal graphic nov­els show­cas­ing ma­jor Marvel char­ac­ters. Hard­cover and over­sized, with ex­quis­ite book de­sign by Rian Hughes, ev­ery­thing about it says “se­ri­ous” and “event”. And it is a big deal, if only be­cause it rep­re­sents the re­turn of über-scribe War­ren El­lis to main­stream comics af­ter a lengthy ab­sence.

That said, End­less War­time is a rather dour af­fair that of­ten threat­ens to buckle un­der the weight of its wor­thi­ness. The plot cen­tres on drone strikes be­ing car­ried out against made-up Mid­dle East­ern na­tion Slore­nia and the first half of the book con­sists mostly of the Avengers dis­cussing the rights and wrongs of out­side in­ter­ven­tion in the af­fairs of a sov­er­eign state and the eth­i­cal­ity of big cor­po­ra­tions be­com­ing in­volved in war. All very top­i­cal, but vac­il­la­tion and soul-search­ing ill be­fits the char­ac­ters. These are Earth’s Might­i­est He­roes, not Earth’s Mim­si­est.

El­lis’s di­a­logue crack­les as al­ways, but he’s let down by McKone, who seems able to do only two fa­cial ex­pres­sions – grim or smil­ing – which un­der­mines the sly, snarky wit in the speech-bub­ble cap­tions. The mix of som­bre­ness and su­per­heroics doesn’t quite gel, and one finds one­self pin­ing for the jaunty, screwyou at­ti­tude that char­ac­terised El­lis’s runs on The Author­ity and Nextwave.

Earth’s Might­i­est don’t suit “wor­thy”.

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