The best part of Minimum Carna--- I mean, The Avengers, is the natural banter. Opinions are surely mixed on writer Brian Michael Bendis, but regardless of how you feel about the man, you've gotta admit he's capable of crafting some great casual conversations. You'd think the highlight here would be the adventure surrounding miniature Captain America, Iron Man, Janet and Hank Pym, but no sir, the real treat is the chit-chat between the team members left behind in the boring ole 616 universe.
It's the little things (I swear that wasn't an intentional pun) that bring this issue to life. Rulk and Vision awkwardly standard guard in Central Park, casually talking about Wolverine's bathroom break as crowds gather around them is a priceless moment -- especially taking into account how Rulk responds to an over enthusiastic fan. The joke about Wolverine makes me wonder, though... when does the poor guy have time to go to the bathroom? He's in 40,031 titles (that number might have gone up by the time this review goes live) and he's practically always busy.
Anyway... toilet humor aside, it's the downtime that delivers the most amusement in this issue. That's not saying the micro universe story is necessarily bad, but it certainly pales in comparison despite being packed with action and a few good chuckles. The most notable moment for me is the final sequence with Iron Man. Witnessing Lord Gouzar (I'm sorry, I can't get how absurd the name is) trying to pry off Iron Man's armor with Cap's shield and then later observing Tony cower behind Cap's shield as he calls for a time out was particularly humorous. Not the most heroic showing, but it's unquestionably funny.
Lord Gouzar feels completely uninspired. He's a bad man that rules by force, yet doesn't even come off as very intimidating when talking to his troops -- especially if you compare him to someone like the Kingpin. Just like him, I also felt that the action wasn't very inspired either. There's a bit of cannon fodder getting beat up, then Gouzar uses a rifle that takes them out one at a time. The illustration of Cap blasting through walls was fabulous, but aside from that, nothing about the combat was exciting or engaging.
As I've said, the dialogue and interactions are great, but the story itself isn't very interesting. Janet's tale absolutely is, but the conflict in this new universe doesn't have my focus -- and that's the plot taking center stage. Frankly, I'd rather have an issue or two of the team chatting with Janet and then bringing her back to the regular universe without any of the seemingly forced conflict. I'm a sucker for good action, but this material unfortunately feels bland. The "cliffhanger" is quite abrupt too and just doesn't feel like an appropriate spot to make us wait for what's to come.
While THE AVENGERS definitely isn't a bad book, it's by no means a great one either. For me, it falls somewhere in the middle. Bendis's ability to craft natural flowing and light hearted conversations is alluring and Janet's return is a solid hook, but the antagonist and his agenda isn't anything special... and that happens to be soaking up a good deal of the panel time. Hopefully the story with Lord Gouzar takes an unexpected turn or wraps up quickly.