In this week’s Avengers Mech Strike #1, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes take their usual fisticuffs into brand new territory: The mecha genre.
The title of Avengers Mech Strike basically tells you everything you need to know about the concept: Avengers, but in mech suits. That’s it! There’s no real context or anything else you should know about it going in. The characters are all dressed as they would be in current continuity, signaling a contemporaneous setting, but that’s probably putting more thought into it than what’s called for. If you’re into the idea of Avengers fighting baddies in mech suits, then this series might be of interest to you.
The problem with Avengers Mech Strike #1 is that it takes too long to deliver on its premise and falls short when it does. When we finally get a group shot of the Avengers in their personalized mech suits, the issue comes to an abrupt halt with those dreaded three words: To be continued. This may not have been such an issue if the story up to that point wasn’t such boilerplate Avengers plotting—something is destroying New York City!—but because the rest of the thing isn’t especially novel or interesting, it makes for a disappointing read. Jed MacKay’s script here isn’t bad, but it doesn’t make an especially compelling case for readers to come back in a month for issue two either.
Carlos Magno’s art is similarly serviceable, which unfortunately also means unexciting and lacking in style. Again, nothing looks bad here. It’s very much in the standard house style that’s meant to appeal to the widest audience possible, but because the aforementioned story being told is so basic, it does nothing to elevate the material. This is especially egregious for a mecha story, which you would maybe expect to have more Japanese-inspired visuals, or at least some nod towards the origin of the genre. For example: Why not set this in Tokyo instead of New York? Better yet, why not hire Japanese talent to do it?
That’s another criticism I have to bring up with this issue: The lack of authenticity. As much as Marvel has been making an effort to diversify its roster of creators (see: Peach Momoko’s upcoming X-Men series, which certainly looks different than their usual fare), this is another instance wherein they probably could have taken things a step further. I don’t see why this series couldn’t have at least been drawn by an actual manga artist so as to bring some of that sensibility to the page. Wouldn’t that be something? Credited cover artist Kei Zama, recently of the underrated Death’s Head (and flipping Transformers!) is Japanese, but that’s as far as her involvement goes here. It’s weird that she isn’t just drawing the thing itself given her pedigree and previous history with Marvel, but alas.