In Review: Avengers #10

This is the perfect story for an anniversary celebration.

The covers: There’s a big ten covers for Marvel Maniacs to find on this Legacy numbered issue of 700. The Regular cover is by Ed McGuinness & Marte Gracia. This has Captain America in the front, Thor behind him roaring, She-Hulk is to Cap’s left with her eyes glaring, Black Panther is behind her leaping up, over his right shoulder the fiery form of Captain Marvel is seen racing skywards, and to her right is Iron Man flying forward. On the far left Ghost Rider protrudes into the illustration. Remember this lineup for the Variant cover by the same team. Thor holds his hammer out and Captain American and Iron Man are placing their hands upon it while the Wasp buzzes next to it on the Alex Ross Variant. Behind them is every Avenger through the 1980s, with Giant Man filling the remaining space. I like this, but it’s really dark. Yes, I get this is supposed to be solemn, but I’d rather see my heroes clearly. The Arthur Adams & Paul Mounts Variant is a stunning recreation of the classic Barry Windsor Smith Avengers #100 cover, with slight changes in character’s costumes. I love the look of everyone and the coloring, with that glorious yellow border making this pop. This is a cover to chase down! I love the Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, & Jim Campbell Variant, but it features the classic lineup of X-Men from Giant Size X-Men #1. Seriously, Marvel? The X-Men are fighting some Sentinels and this looks fantastic, but this is the wrong title for this cover to be on. The David Finch & Peter Steigerwald Variant is a stunning frontpiece. It features the current lineup of heroes with the reader looking up at them. They appear to be within the ruins of building (Avengers’ mansion?). Thor’s hammer is held up in the foreground with lightning sparking out of it, while Doctor Strange stands highest up with spectral energy coming out of his hands and creating a fantastic glare upon the reader. This is outstanding! I’m equally in love with the Ron Lim & Mounts Variant. Captain America is slamming his shield into the ground creating a blast that explodes outward. To his right is Iron Man who has his hand repulsors held out and powering up. To Cap’s left is Thor with his hammer crackling with blue energy. Behind the trio is a rocky number seven hundred with orange Kirby Krackle behind it. David Marquez & Romulo Fajardo, Jr.’s Variant cover has all the current lineup facing the reader, ready for action. Black Panther is crouched low in the front, standing out because of the energy that’s coming from Captain Marvel’s fists behind him. Thor is the furthest back, a bolt of lighting going through his hammer and his cape billowing out. The Ed McGuinness & Marte Gracia Variant is a clever recasting of the Regular cover. This has Captain America in the front with slight costume changes, Thor behind him roaring with massive costume changes, Hulk is to Cap’s left with his eyes glaring, Black Panther is behind him leaping up, over his right shoulder the Wasp is seen racing skywards, and to her right is Iron Man, with a costume change, flying forward. On the far left Giant Man protrudes into the illustration. Very clever, very cool. George Pérez & Jason Keith have got a lot of action going on in their Variant. Thor is front and center swinging Mjolnir down upon a brick wall that also destroys the book’s logo. Captain America is leaping forward behind the thunder god, tossing his shield over his friend’s head. To Thor’s right is Hawkeye nocking an arrow with a glowing tip. To Thor’s left is the Scarlet Witch, revealing more skin than I’m used to seeing on her, whose hands are powering up with energy. Iron Man is flying in from the upper left corner, his hands also powering up. And a very welcome addition is the Black Widow swinging in from the upper right corner, her sting blasting out. Great imagery and my hat’s off to Keith for coloring this so well, as the detail in Pérez’s work must make a colorist nervous. The final cover is the Skottie Young Variant. This is a white cover, save the two figures at the very bottom. Thor asks why Iron Man is wearing his original suit and Stark gives him a funny response. Cute, but not for me. Overall grades. Regular A-, Ross Variant B-, Adams Variant A+, Davis Variant B, Finch Variant A+, Lim Variant A+, Marquez Variant A, McGuinness Variant A-, Pérez Variant A+, and Young Variant C+

The story: This massive fifty page anniversary issue (if Marvel had kept their numbering the same on their Avengers comics this would be Issue #700) by Jason Aaron begins in Russia where Ursa Major is going to have a pardon given for all his past crimes if he’ll sign on to rejoining Russia’s team of heroes. He’s in, but not so quick to re-up is Dmitri Bukharin, the Crimson Dynamo. He does give in and is given the position of Minister of Superhuman Defense. Darkstar and Vanguard, along with the Red Widow, complete the lineup of this team for the moment. They’ve been reactivated because Namor and his Defenders of the Deep have attacked Soviet citizens in the Black Sea. This squad of water based characters are currently attacking the biosphere Hydropolis in the South Sea. The Avengers are called together, but not before Gorilla-Man is shown in Avengers Mountain, to stop Namor. Naturally there’s a fight and naturally things go further south with the arrival of the Winter Guard, the renamed Super-Soldiers. There’s some great fights, some fun lines, with the resolution one would expect of such a tussle. What was unexpected was the double reveal on Page 32 of whom the government is now going to hire as its new team of super heroes since they’ve “lost” the Avengers, and who is going to be their go-between. That was enough to satisfy me, but there are three mini-stories that follow. The first involves Odin seeking vengeance against Ghost Rider for killing Starbrand. This has no reason to work, since the new Ghost Rider is so different from all previous incarnations, but Aaron makes this a thoughtful and fun story. Next up is Loki’s escape from The Final Host, getting a very unusual aide to assist him in his exit. There’s some foreshadowing of future Avengers’ tales in this story. The final story is a quickie, only three pages, with the Wasp looking to enlist another hero to the squad. If the setting has clued in the reader, the final page will be a scream. This was perfect reading, even without the three extra stories. This was old time super hero fun, with the good guys fighting several characters. Everyone has a good argument for their side of the fight and that’s a good way for all readers to think about who has the high road. The two reveals on 32 are scream worthy because I love all the characters shown. This is the perfect story for an anniversary celebration. Overall grade: A+

The art: There are five artists on this book: David Marquez & Ed McGuinness, with guest artists Frazer Irving, Adam Kubert, and Andrea Sorrentino. The main story is illustrated by Marquez and McGuinness. They introduce the Russian heroes to the reader clearly, while teasing Red Widow, who has only a few appearances, but is imposing. The Defenders of the Deep lineup has gained a few new members and they, too, are introduces to the reader and shown in action. The Avengers are paired up in different locations, doing different things, when they’re called to action. I liked the Iron Man/Ghost Rider scene the best. When the heroes and the Defenders pair off it’s exciting looking and cool to see each character using their abilities to beat the other. How Cap gets Namor’s attention is awesome. The arrival of the Winter Guard is outstanding. I really like the vertical panels on Pages 21 and 22, which is a great way to show the epic scale of the players whaling on one another, ending on the focus of the sole non-participant. Namor’s actions on 27 are shocking — they could have been more graphic, but they’re more than enough to show what’s being done. Page 32 is the only full-paged splash of the main story and it left me howling in joy. These characters look gorgeous and I’m happy to see them back. WOW! Plus the smile on the character on the left had me grinning mischievously. I initially wasn’t keen on Irving’s visuals for his story involving Ghost Rider and Odin. It was a little too cartoony for me and difficult to make out. However, my opinion changed by the end of the fourth page as I had finally gotten a handle on his art and could better see it. I liked it. Kubert’s art takes an unconditionally layout format and runs with it to show Loki conversing with a surprise character. The reveal on 3 and 4 is sure to earn cheers from fans. I really liked the double-paged splash on 5 and 6 which shows several Marvel heroes and villains in action, teasing things to come in this series. This was epic! Sorrentino gets only three pages but she makes them fantastic, with the layout on the second page incredibly clever to show the Wasp in action. The final page is a definite WOW! reveal. Overall grades: Marquez & McGuinness B, Irving B-, Kubert A, and Sorrentino A

The colors: There are also five colorists on this issue: Justin Ponsor, Erick Arciniega, Frazer Irving, Matthew Wilson, and Giada Marchisio. I’m assuming that Ponsor and Arciniega colored the first tale, as there’s no pages stated in the book’s credits as to who is responsible for what. With all the heroes in action, and a majority of them sporting black or red in their clothes, it’s impressive that each character stands out, whether they be winning or losing their fight. Irving colors his own pages and the reader can tell that immediately given their florescent shades. Sometimes the colors are too faint to make out characters, especially during the initial fight. I’m much happier with Wilson’s colors on the Loki tale, with every element of the art seen and a spectacular job with oranges and reds on Pages 5 and 6. The first panel on Marchisio’s pages is a stark black and white image in red which blasts the reader into the story. The colors are dark, but it’s an extremely dark setting, though the Wasp’s costume has bright colors to make it pop. I like it. Overall grades: Ponsor and Arciniega A, Irving C+, Wilson A, and Marchisio A-

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit is the creator of this issue’s scene settings and character identifiers (the same font), dialogue, a computer voice, Asgardian speech, sounds, and transmissions. I like the design for the scene settings and character identifiers, but wish they had been in two different fonts, as I momentarily paused when I saw Ursa Major named, thinking — only for a second — that I was reading a scene change. They look good, but should be differed. I like the AI voice of Avengers Mountain which looks different from other speaking characters. Asgardian speech is also different from any other speaker, though it continues to make me think that when they speak they have an echo to their words. I was disappointed to see Iron Man and Crimson Dynamo’s dialogue is only differed from others from the color and shape of their dialogue balloons: mechanical voices should have a different font. Overall grade: B

The final line: This is everything you could want in a super hero team book: outstanding story, plenty of action, fun lines, teases of what’s to come, and epic visuals. The $5.99 price tag is definitely worth it for all that you get. My hat’s off to Marvel for making such a fun book. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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