The white smoke is rising from Avengers Mansion, once again signaling the naming of a new roster of Avengers after a long period of speculation and waiting to see who would fill the shoes of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the upcoming June relaunch of the Avengers ongoing title.
We now know that writer Jed MacKay and artist CF Villa will take over as the title's creative team in June, bringing with them a new line-up of Avengers consisting of Sam Wilson-Captain America, Thor, Tony Stark-Iron Man, Vision, Wanda Maximoff-Scarlet Witch, T'challa-Black Panther, and new team leader Carol Danvers-Captain Marvel.
That's a lot of Avengers heavy hitters, with a couple of team founders, some long absent returning members, and some current mainstays - in other words, just about as close to a classic roster as you can get without going back to the rest of the founding Avengers.
In fact, it looks a lot like the era back in the late '70s when Sam Wilson and Carol Danvers first joined the team as Falcon and Ms. Marvel, respectively. And we have to note that the inclusion of Scarlet Witch and Vision together in particular is a throwback to their '70s heyday on the team.
What might this new Avengers roster tell us about not just the direction of the team heading into the Avengers title relaunch, but about the place of each of the members both on the team and in the Marvel Universe at large?
Let's unpack the new Avengers roster and find out.(opens in new tab)
Carol Danvers has become a modern Avengers mainstay as Captain Marvel, especially since her MCU debut a few years ago. Now, compared to many of the members on the team, she feels like one of the most consistent presences in the Avengers title, which makes her elevation to team leader feel like a natural evolution.
It also feels like it could be a glimpse at the leadership structure of the next incarnation of the MCU Avengers, where Carol is still very much a factor as of now.
Sam Wilson is the current MCU Captain America and likely to take that role into the next incarnation of the MCU Avengers before long, so having him on the comic team makes sense - especially since he fills the dual role of a character who has been an Avenger off-and-on since the late '70s when he first joined the team as the Falcon.
Sam's inclusion on the new Avengers team could also indicate that Steve Rogers may become the main solo Captain America in the wider Marvel Universe, leaving the teamwork mostly to Sam for a while.
Another Avenger whose membership dates back to the '60s, T'Challa's presence here on the new Avengers team seems to confirm that whatever happens in the big status quo shift that's coming to the Black Panther title in its own June relaunch, T'Challa himself will still be around and serving as Black Panther in some regard.
Does that mean that, like we speculated is possible with Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, Shuri could show up as the Black Panther of the wider Marvel Universe? Time will tell.
Vision & Scarlet Witch
It's almost a bit of a cheat to discuss Vision and Scarlet Witch together, as they're not currently a couple and haven't been for many years. But in their heyday on the Avengers in the late '60s through the mid-'80s, the pairing of Vision and Scarlet Witch was one of the most defining subplots of the classic Avengers title.
The fact that they're both back on the Avengers at the same time for the first time since Scarlet Witch literally blew Vision up while under the influence of Doctor Doom during Avengers: Disassembled seems to be a likely indicator that their relationship will once again become a running subplot in the title - and if not, at the very least, it'll wind up Earth's Mightiest elephant in the room.
Footnote: With Scarlet Witch's brand new ongoing series, Vision is the only of the seven without his own ongoing series, at least for the moment.
Wonder if that may be changing soon?
The good old-fashioned God of Thunder is one of two Avengers founders on the team, alongside Tony Stark (more on him in a moment).
The team has rarely been without at least two founding members on board since the brief period in the '60s when the team consisted solely of Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver (AKA Cap's Kooky Quartet) before Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne rejoined the team after a period of absence.
Thor is a classic Avengers powerhouse, and his presence is one of the new team's biggest ties to the earliest days of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
The other side of that coin is Iron Man. It's rare for Iron Man and Thor to be on the Avengers together without Steve Rogers, who has traditionally been considered the third of the so-called 'Big Three' Avengers.
Elevating Carol Danvers to a leadership position seems to place her in that role alongside Iron Man and Thor in the new roster, and gives Tony Stark a logical place as her confidant and advisor as a veteran leader of the team himself.
What's Missing?(opens in new tab)
Make no mistake, if you're working with a roster of just seven Avengers, these picks are all-killer-no-filler. And as we stated up top, this roster is very similar to the team's '70s era when they were unquestionably seen as the top powerhouses of the Marvel Universe.
That said, there are some characters such as Janet Van Dyne and Monica Rambeau who would also feel right at home on a team like this and who could have been logical picks. And it's a little bit of a surprise not to see some Hulk or another on the team at this point.
But if there's one thing actually missing, if that's possible in a particularly classic Avengers line-up, it's a wild card or new recruit to the team.
As it stands, these are seven longstanding Avengers with undeniable ties to the team. It's a little bit surprising to not see a kind of "new class" recruit as has often been a way to ground the team and invite in new readers over the years.
That's getting a bit nitpicky though, we admit. We'd be fools to say that a team consisting of Sam Wilson, T'Challa, Tony Stark, Thor, Vision, and Wanda Maximoff with Carol Danvers as leader couldn't go toe to toe with any of the top Avengers rosters of all time.
All of the characters in the new Avengers roster have appeared in some of the best Avengers stories of all time.