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100th Anniversary: Avengers #1

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by James Stokoe

Everything James Stokoe does is amazing and deserves endless hours to pour over all the little details he puts in his work. Even something as simple as, on the title page, writing his own obituary since this is, after all, supposed to take place twenty five years from now, or an advertisement for Marvel Quiblets goes a long way. Stokoe is a guy who more than earned this shot and even just from cover to title page he most certainly is making the most of it. For those that don’t know Mr. Stokoe, you need to run to your comic shops and pick up his creator-owned Image book Orc Stain, as well as one of the best Godzilla stories ever, Godzilla: the Half Century War (from IDW Publishing). Seriously, holy crap is this guy insanely talented.

Now this is supposed to be a new beginning to the long running Avengers, set twenty five years from now. What makes this issue great is all of Stokoe’s references to other events, via those little editor boxes that tell you to check out another issues from another book, as well as the fact that it feels like a first issue. It’s a starting point for this new team of Avengers and the book even ends as though in a month we’re going to get a follow-up issue. The easy way to do this, one would think, would be to make a one-and-done story and just move on, Stokoe takes the approach that maybe we might see a follow up someday–don’t get your hopes up, though, but the opportunity is certainly there.

While the story feels like a number one (and you ought to read it for yourself so there’s no point in recapping it), let’s spend some time on arguably the biggest draw here (pun not intended, don’t ask why this opportunity keeps happening in my reviews) is Stokoe’s art. It’s just not of this world. Stokoe infuses elements of Manga as well as his own flare to make a hyper detailed, cartoonish world where you can literally spend all night looking through each panel and checking out the details and subtle things he adds.  It’s almost a gift to those who look. Not only is it hyper detailed, which we really don’t get to see often enough with the gruelling monthly schedules, but it’s original. This is a flavour that Marvel hasn’t sampled before and it’s one that, if anybody is really paying attention, we really need to see more of. Even a bi-monthly book, Marvel, done by Stokoe, would suffice. Just saying.

Anyway, along with doing the art (pencil and ink) Stokoe handles his own color work and all his own lettering, giving readers the absolute full-package deal. His colors are insane, bright, in-your-face, and his lettering (especially on logos and the title pages) is just stellar. It’s original, it’s new, it’s fresh, and it’s something that Marvel needs to take more chances on. This Avengers book is 100% Stokoe in all his glory and if you take the time to really sit down and pour over these pages you’re going to be converted to the Holy Order of Stokoe–send $5 in and you’ll get your membership card. It’s really very simple. After you read this and while you wait for your membership card, go out and pick up at least the two other books mentioned above and tell Marvel, in tweets or emails or by buying 50 copies, that you demand more work from this talented, talented creator. (Quick note on that statement. I mean more work for Stokoe at Marvel to gain followers and then he can focus on his own work, like Orc Stain. But, also, generally give this guy more work because he’s awesome.)

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