Review: West Coast Avengers #1 (2018)

After recently finishing up her well-received run on Hawkeye, writer Kelly Thompson continues the exploits of Kate Bishop and Clint Barton in West Coast Avengers, a delightful reimagining of Marvel’s long-dormant series.

In a comic-book industry where new super-hero teams are set up almost every month, it’s getting increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. West Coast Avengers does exactly that, tackling the tired concept of “putting the team together” with charm and creativity.

The tone of the series is well-defined from the very first panel, wherein a clueless Barton prepares for an on-camera interview about the new team. Interspersed throughout the action of the issue, this set-up allows for multiple memorable moments of comedy brought to life by artist Stefano Caselli and colorist Tríona Farrell.

Thompson displays a continued understanding of Bishop and Barton’s complex relationship, but also does a great job getting to know the new members of her ensemble cast. Fan-favourite America Chavez has all her trademark attitude, while Quentin Quire’s egomania adds another great dynamic to this unusual collection of characters.

Perhaps the nicest surprise is Gwenpool, a character who in Thompson’s own words could be reduced to an “absolutely useless Deadpool knockoff”, yet somehow manages to be one of the most endearing personalities on the team. If her origins as a novelty variant cover initially dented her credibility, this could be the series that sees her embraced by the mainstream Marvel Universe.

Caselli’s versatility should be applauded. The artist is able to capture the absurdity of a so-called “land shark” attack, while also depicting the book’s quieter moments in a natural and engaging way. Farrell’s colours are yet another string to the book’s bow (if you’ll pardon the expression), with the frequent dashes of pink and purple a real treat for the eye. The final sequence of the issue is another standout, showing off the beauty of a sunset in California.

Not since Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers has the Marvel Universe seen such an exciting team of youth characters. Thompson, Caselli and Farrell are firing on all cylinders, launching a book that is fresh, witty and beautiful.

9.0

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