Marvel's The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week review
Almost there! CJ gets us up to speed on the official comic book that leads in to the Avengers' cinematic debut...
Marvel's The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week must be one of the longest titles for any comic in the history of the medium, which emulates the waiting we've done for the movie. You can read our spoiler-free review of that here.
As the official prequel, it takes eager fans or soon-to-be-fans through the events of The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America and weaves in background on the struggle Marvel's security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. will face in The Avengers/Avengers Assemble.
The series was published initially as an eight-issue, digital-exclusive limited series for 69p per issue, back when the Superbowl trailer for The Avengers hit. It's has since been released as three print comics to reach the widest possible audience in advance of the movie.
Written by Christopher Yost and Eric Pearson with scripts by Pearson, Fury's Big Week is punchy, suspenseful and funny. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury and fan-favourite Agent Coulson get a chance to shine, with some great lines from both that could easily by delivered by Sam Jackson and Clark Gregg. We really see how influential both men have been in bringing together the very incompatible heroes that make the Avengers such a hardy group. It's the ultimate team-up. B-list heroes until now, Hawkeye and Black Widow both seem like their snarky and icy selves, too.
The art on the series is reliable, but Luke Ross' and Wellinton Alves pencils stand out over Daniel Hdr's and Agustin Padilla's considerably. Ross and Alves are much more movie-like in style and panel-work, with Hdr's and Padilla's issues having a distinctly comic book flavour. That's nothing to sniff at, but as the series is a movie tie-in the other issues just come across as more appropriate.
Spoiler alert: this series was intended as a run-in to the movie, but if you're on a self-imposed media blackout and want to avoid all hype then it's not for you.
Issue #1 begins in 1943 with a recap of the final scenes of Captain America on the Hydra stratafortress over the Arctic. The cold of the rescue operation almost 70 years later penetrates the rest of the issue, as Nick Fury is ordered to cancel S.H.I.E.L.D.'s efforts to find Steve Rogers by the shadowy World Security Council, in favour of activating the hush-hush Tesseract.
The second issue brings readers up-to-date with with Fury's and Coulson's activities through The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. We find out that Iron Man's soft billionaire filling, Tony Stark, is dying of palladium poisoning thanks to his supposedly life-saving arc reactor. At the same time, Coulson begins to bug Fury about some strange atmospheric phenomena over New Mexico, throwing the events of Thor into the mix.
Iron Man 2 gets a replay from a different P.O.V. in chapter three, as we find out how Coulson was assigned to deal with the incoming Asgardian wormhole over New Mexico: he wouldn't let Fury ignore it. We get a little bit of Black Widow espionage that helps place her as a key S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and Fury's right-hand-woman. Oh, and Whiplash's infamous bird makes a one-panel cameo.
Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, debuts in #4 and we learn he listens to Pat Benatar. Barton is sent by Fury to assist Coulson in New Mexico. We get to see a smidgen more of how Barton contributed past his brief cameo in Thor, and the thunder god himself turns up, along with Loki.
Meanwhile, the S.H.I.E.L.D. side of the team begins to pull together as the situation escalates. There's a problem with the Hulk, and an exchange between Fury and Black Widow sends Agent Romanoff to Virginia to observe Banner during Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk. It's interesting to see that this, Iron Man 2 and Thor apparently fit into one action-packed week.
By issue six it's clear that whoever the World Security Council are, they're positioning Hulk's nemesis General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross to oust Fury. Ross captures the mean green rage machine's alter-ego, Bruce Banner, but the Abomination almost drops a building on Black Widow. Brushing herself off quickly, she discovers Dr. Samuel Sterns - now transformed into the gamma-irradiated intellectual called The Leader. There's a struggle going on to create a new super soldier, and Fury knows he needs to find Captain America.
Fury calls out the World Security Council,regaling them with the week he's had. He asks for increased funding and gets it, much to his surprise. Chapter eight closes the movie prelude by skipping ahead to a year after Fury's nightmare seven days. The ending of Captain America is foreshadowed when Steve Rogers is discovered frozen in the Arctic, and there's a nod towards the post-credits sequence of Thor as Dr. Solveg - now controlled by Loki - shows the powerful, alien Tesseract device to his new S.H.I.E.L.D. guard: Hawkeye. To be continued!
Fury's Big Week is well worth grabbing from ComiXology before you see the movie, or picking up in the trade paperback collection that's due for release in May. The series tone is a perfect fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far and will get you stoked for what's to come.