A few weeks ago, I came across a copy of the relaunch of Fantastic Four, and upon reading it, found that it was technically good and passably entertaining. Today, by chance I went into a comic book store and found long boxes of one dollar issues. And piecing through them, I found the parallel issue for The Avengers, the 1996 relaunch by Rob Liefeld.

I decided to challenge myself. Perhaps it was time for some revisionist history of Rob Liefeld and Marvel Comics in the 1990s. Jim Lee's Fantastic Four got a second look, so why not The Avengers? True, Thor's screaming face on the cover, looking like he had just discovered that there was an eel in his underwear, didn't encourage me, but you can't judge a book by its cover.

Except when that cover is drawn by Rob Liefeld. Then you can.

Rob Liefeld also wrote this issue (with script help by Jim Valentino) and pencilled the second half of it, with the first half pencilled by Chap Yaep, who seems to have copied Liefeld's style well. I was going to joke that Liefeld also edited this issue, but since there is no editor listed, it appeared that Liefeld did, indeed, edit his own work. Or fail to do so.

The issue opens with Loki (as strongly and improbably muscled as any other super being) hovering over the earth, finding his frozen brother, Thor, and then investigating The Avengers base and narrates (in thick and dodgy Early Modern English) the story of the Avengers. Then the Avengers go to free Thor in Norway, Loki convinces Thor they are enemies, they fight, Thor regains his memory, and then they all yell Avengers Assemble!.

This issue is somewhat confusing for me. One of the purposes of the Heroes Reborn legend was to introduce Marvel characters to a new generation, with new origin stories. But apparently, the Avengers had already formed, and, minus Thor, were living together in a gigantic base. So the story mostly involves Loki narrating their powers and attributes in hokey Old Tyme English. The comic lacks urgency or a point. Anyone buying it would already know who the Avengers were, and if they didn't, the slideshow narration wouldn't help them. Each panel by itself might make sense, but they are conjoined in a jerky fashion that gives no sense of storytelling, just like Liefeld's exaggerated anatomy gives no sense of where or why the characters were moving.

So, to update this vital issue from 2019: Rob Liefeld's work on the Avengers is still not good. Despite Liefeld's "dynamic" art style, this issue has very little action, even less drama, and mostly serves as exposition about things the reader already knows. This is, quite simply, bad. Still bad. Whatever flashes of redeeming interest there could be in it are weighed out by the fact that it is just, plain, boring, simple, bad. Bad.