Avengers: Tech-on Avengers (#1) – Jim Zub

2 out of 5

Just from an advertising standpoint – that is, what might draw me in as a reader, passing this on a physical or digital shelf – it’s probably not great that I can’t fully comprehend what’s on the cover of Avengers: Tech-On Avengers #1. I mean, yes – it’s clearly Tony Stark in some upgraded robo suit, wielding a weapon-laden gauntlet towards the sky, but I can’t fully figure out the “space” of the visual – what’s foreground, what’s background – making it rather unremarkable to the eye. Cover artists Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi are not without skill, but the same issue still exists on the preview of the second cover – even with less bulk than Iron Man’s armor, “seeing” the divide between Cap’s robo-suit’s shoulder and his forearm isn’t easy.

Interiors are from Jeffrey Cruz, but a similar problem exists, especially later on when scenes are set against dark backgrounds: it’s all very digital, and the glossiness of the colors and lack of backgrounds makes a lot of it seem very flat – blending together. You can intuit what’s happening in scenes because – sorry – the story and dialogue are pretty generic, but to actually look at some panels, it can be hard to describe without that context.

Tech-on is a fun concept, in our “every threat is now the Infinity Gauntlet” Marvel world: a Gauntlet-huffing Red Skull anime variant (I do dig Cruz’s design on this version of Skull, even if the details again get lost due to the digital flatness) snaps his fingers and takes away all powers – no Spider powers, no magical Black Panther powers, no Cap serum, etc. – giving us a new reason for the avenging heroes to suit up in robo suits and battle the baddie. This happens at the end of the book, though, making the first issue all setup: the snap, the fret bout what to do, which leads to a “plan,” prior to robo suits, which amounts to “attack Red Skull.” This is, unfortunately, about the level of Zub’s writing on the book, which feels fairly phoned in between incredibly stereotypical bad guy blabber (Skull sounds like any Saturday morning villain) and a lack of any sense of intelligence or logistical smarts amongst the heroes, who just go through the regular fightin’ motions. Adding some credence to my take on the art not being wholly subjective – or rather, that maybe someone else felt the same way – Zub also has to add a couple of bland exposition bubbles to explain what’s happening in a panel, ’cause you can’t really tell.

If you really need more mecha Avengers, I’m guessing this will suffice, and will perhaps pick up once the story gets going next issue, but beyond some fun ideas, this premiere issue is too generic and visually flat to grab a casual reader like me.