Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a new threat arises, forcing a group of otherwise unrelated heroes to band together to stop it. Afterward, they decide it might not be such a bad idea to form a team to protect the world from similar dangers.
It’s a tried and true superhero story, but dang, I’ve rarely if ever seen it done better than in “New Avengers: Breakout.”
The premise is fantastic. The supervillain Electro is paid by an unknown client to break a specific person out of a top-secret, ridiculously secured prison full of super-powered criminals. Electro shorts out the prison’s power, releasing the person he was paid to, but he also frees every single other supervillain that was locked up in the place.
A Ragtag Group of Heroes
Seven superheroes respond to the mass breakout:
- Luke Cage was working as a bodyguard for lawyers Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson, who were visiting one of the inmates.
- Daredevil, whose secret identity is definitely not Matt Murdock, was nowhere near the prison. Really.
- Spider-Woman was on a hiatus from superheroics and working as a SHIELD agent on assignment to escort Murdock, Nelson, and Cage.
- The Sentry was the inmate Nelson was visiting.
- Captain America was in a helicopter, which he redirected to the prison. (It crashes.)
- Spider-Man hitched a ride on said helicopter when he saw the massive fricking lightning bolt that knocked out the prison’s power. (He also crashes.)
- Iron Man was…just flying by, I guess? He shows up halfway through.
There’s a huge, epic fight as the seven heroes struggle to contain the chaos. It’s full of lots of nice moments: Spider-Woman remembers how to fly; Spider-Man gets mobbed by all his angry rogues; and Luke Cage beats the crap out of the Purple Man. In the end, they manage to contain many of the escapees.
But not all of them.
A New Mission
In the aftermath, Captain America sees the breakout as a sign that the world still needs the Avengers. (The team had disbanded after the events of “Avengers Disassembled,” a storyline that I loathe with a fiery passion.)
He convinces a reluctant Iron Man to come on board and extends invites to every other hero who responded to the breakout. Daredevil gives him a hard no, and the Sentry is MIA, but the rest accept, and the New Avengers are formed.
The team’s main goal is tracking down the escaped supervillains and investigating who hired Electro and why. This leads to them crash-landing on an island of dinosaurs, picking up Wolverine of X-Men fame, and all sorts of crazy stuff. In the meantime, they’ve got to figure out what the heck is up with the Sentry, and—wait, is Spider-Woman a traitor?
A Whole lot of Action
There’s a lot of stuff going on in this series, but my favorite part will always be the breakout that brings the team together. It just feels so utterly epic. In fact, it’s so great an idea that the cartoon The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes reused it to bring together the original five Avengers in its two-part pilot episode. (And if you haven’t watched Avengers EMH, what are you doing with your life?)
This series had a huge impact on the state of the Marvel Universe, and I’d go so far as to call it a contemporary classic. If you missed it when it originally came out, you can buy the first volume here. Avengers Assemble!
What’s your opinion on the New Avengers? Want to fangirl with me over Avengers EMH? Share your thoughts in the comments!