Writer: Jeff Parker
Pencils: Manuel Garcia
Unofficially dubbed “Harley-Davidson Avengers“, here’s a modern collectible FIRST issue, coincidentally hitting the streets as a FREE digital comic with a big-screen Avengers movie imminent. Yes, it obviously a marketing tie-in, as the team consists of Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hulk (Bruce Banner), Thor and the Black Widow (with her two friends). A second issue promises to include “five lucky winners of the Harley-Davidson Assemble Your Freedom contest”. Not a typical sweepstakes entry, as it’s another in the endless line of custom motorcycle competitions.
With that out of the way, we’re left with a peculiar comic. Set in Kurskyn, Russia, it features the Avengers searching for a captured Hawkeye and some stolen tech from the Starcorp organization. Combined with the cover, we get the product placement out of the way, quickly.
Who’s captured Hawkeye? None other than Baron Zemo and his latest Masters of Evil team. Consisting of Tiger Shark, Whiplash, Mr. Hyde and the Taskmaster. Hmm… I’m obviously missing something, because it’s seems like a reversion for Zemo to drop his usual manipulations and actually announce his team as the “Masters of Evil” once again. Mr. Hyde was still on/in the custody of the Thunderbolts, last I checked (which was two weeks ago). Ehh, it’d be easy to No-Prize away Mr. Hyde’s presence, as I’m guessing Thunderbolts is ending soon (again).
Anyways, those two incongruities make me wonder if this story is set in current Marvel continuity, or if it’s just a self-contained thing. I mean, aren’t Bruce Banner and the Hulk currently separated? The story itself isn’t much, as the Avengers act more like the GI Joe Team, being sent on a mission to recover some mysterious device. After the obligatory fisticuffs, the Avengers locate Zemo’s hidey-hole, as it seems ol’ Helmut has used the stolen technology from Starcorp to open a Negative Zone portal and import an army of weird aliens.
Taskmaster and the others guys all square off with the Avengers, in a scene that just screams “buy new MARVEL SUPER HEROES Action Figures”. In fact, this whole thing feels like a mini-comic that would’ve been inserted with an 80’s toy. As the fighting escalates and the book near its end, who should come bursting onto the scene but… the Marauder and TEAM AMERICA?!
Okay, so it’s not really the early 80’s toy tie-ins (and yes, I know they eventually became known as “the Thunderiders”). It’s supposed to be a new team called “Road Force” and they’ll probably take off their helmets to reveal themselves as the winners of the “Assemble Your Freedom” contest, next issue. I’m cringing at some of the potential dialogue, as the Avengers will have to pump up these guys in some way. Thor: “Thine steed of steel is a worthy fighting machine. Aye, verily!” Wow… that line actually sounds like something the band Manowar would use in a song. I kinda’ feel sorry for Captain America, too. He had “Team America” guest star in his comic back in 1982 and now he gets to plug “Road Force”.
Have to wonder what the shelf-life on “Road Force” in the Marvel Universe will be. I mean, a team of guys who ride motorcycles doesn’t seem very exciting, so it just reeks of a gimmicky marketing tie-in. Study up on them and you may win a trivia challenge in the year 2034! I dunno’, but at least when Marvel had a SLURPEE tie-in in the late 70’s, there wasn’t a special “Avenge Your Thirst” comic or anything. Yet the 70’s were in the days before FIRST ISSUES became all the rage.
The Avengers (or any hero team for that matter) just don’t work well as a crossover hook. Since the summer of 2012 is also featuring the Avengers vs. X-men event, I guess we can score this as the Avengers’ version of “KISSnation”, where the X-men met KISS. The two teams are now even in that category. Will any Harley-Davidson fans begin buying Avengers comics because of this? Will any Avengers fans buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle because of this? Both seem highly unlikely. Although I could see an Avengers fan buying a wallet with the Harley-Davidson logo on it.
But hey, this book is free harmless fluff, so I can’t get too harsh on it. Bottom line is: I’m glad I got it as a digital comic, as I’d rather have it take up room on my USB drive than in my long box.
Summary: Avengers go a Russia to punch Masters of Evil. Guys on motorcycles arrive.