Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Mike McKone
It's a shame that this original graphic novel, Avengers: Endless Wartime, wasn't published when the Avengers movie was released, as I think it's exactly the type of book that the Marvel bigwigs would like to be able to put into the hands of the supposed droves of new readers who come into comic stores when a comic movie comes out.
Basically, Warren Ellis takes the hundred-odd pages in this book to distill the Avengers into a hybrid of the film and comics versions. He works with a larger cast than the movie, including Captain Marvel and Wolverine, but keeps the Whedon-esque kidding, especially where Hawkeye and Iron Man are concerned.
The plot for this book is pretty basic. A new mildly intelligent drone is being used by military contractors in a civil war taking place in a small fictionalized country bordering Afghanistan and Iran. These drones are connected to a mission that Captain America ran in the Second World War, but also have a connection to Thor. When Cap learns of these new weapons, he goes to investigate, and essentially gets his team involved in American foreign policy and puts them at odds with SHIELD, although that isn't really treated as a big deal.
Ellis gets superhero comics on a level that few writers do. He has a knack for getting right to the central concepts of characters and power sets, and then tries to make them fit in our real world. His Cap is still having trouble adjusting to living in the modern world, just as his Bruce Banner is still wracked by the guilt caused by his other self's actions.
Most of this book is given over to getting the team ready for action, as Ellis approaches this like he would a blockbuster movie, portioning out the big screen action scenes so as not to over-excite the reader.
Mike McKone is a very good choice for the art here. He's always been a very strong character artist, expressing a variety of emotions easily and effectively, but also able to really throw down in the action scenes. I never really understood the design of the creatures the Avengers are fighting, but otherwise this is a very nice looking book, and a great gateway into the confusing world of 15+ Avengers titles that Marvel currently publishes.