Avengers Assemble is Marvel's latest Avengers focused title, aiming to capitalize on the success of the forthcoming movie by focusing on the six heroes featured in the feature film, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, all while remaining within the continuity of the established comic universe. So this is a version of the Incredible Hulk sans Bruce Banner, Tony Stark is jacked up on Extremis, Black Widow is dating Bucky Barnes and Thor has just came back from the dead.
The series is written by Avengers veteran Brian Michael Bendis and is drawn by his long time collaborator from Ultimate Spider-Man, Mark Bagley. The story focuses on these six Avengers and their battle against a oft forgotten group of twelve enemies known as "The Zodiac". I wonder if that means a mysterious new thirteenth Zodiac will show up, as when the Zodiac originally debuted in 1987, there were only twelve Zodiac symbols. Time will tell of course, but I wouldn't mind seeing that plot twist.
The art is absolutely fantastic of course, with my two favorite panels from each book below:
The first image is just really classic Avengers imagery. Stark Tower, lit up and flanked by fireworks. The second is Thor looking through rubble, which could be quite an easy piece of work to draw, the reflections and the tonality of the light really add depth to Thor's massive frame.
As for the writing, Bendis delivers some really funny moments, despite the tension going on.
I particularly like the exchange between Hulk and Jarvis as he comes to ask the Avengers for help. For the past couple of years the Hulk has been a wild card in the Marvel Universe, mostly keeping to himself and imposing self isolation to avoid hurting anyone. The moment between Clint and Natasha is a great illustration of their past history and speaks true to sharing sometimes embarrassing secrets while being wrapped up in love.
All in all, I have been enjoying the series thus far, as it is great to read an Avengers book with an almost perfect version of the classic line up, sans Ant-Man and Wasp. It is good to see Hulk back to working with others, which is where he does best. It is a nice reminder that he isn't just a big pile of green muscles.