In Review: Avengers #12

A key issue to have as this introduces the ground crew for the main Avengers.

The covers: Two covers to pick up this time, each featuring a roster of classic Marvel characters. The Regular cover is by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, and Jim Campbell. These are the heroes that are featured in this issue: Odin, Okoye, Black Panther, Ka-Zar with Zabu, Gorilla-Man, and the Wasp. They are all looking to the right at something that causes them to look serious. The background is a light blue. The passing of Stan Lee is noted in a black bar across the top where the title would normally be. A solid cover, though teasing nothing about the story. I wasn’t reading comics when Phil Noto began to illustrate them and their covers. With his stunning work on several Star Wars titles I’ve come to be in awe of his talents. My respect continues with the Marvel 80th Anniversary Variant cover he’s created. This image features Marvel characters in their 1960’s garb. Spider-Man’s large head dominates the top center. To the left is a bust of the Black Panther, below him Black Bolt, and below him Charles Xavier and his five X-Men. Covering the left of Spidey’s face is Thor. To the god’s left is a raging Hulk. Below him are the Fantastic Four, with the bulky silver Iron Man before them. In the bottom left are the Ant Man and the Wasp, with a bust of an angry Daredevil looking to the right. WOW! This is beautiful artwork and coloring. This needs to be a print, poster, and tee shirt! Overall grades: Regular B and Marvel 80th Anniversary Variant A+ 

The story: This issue begins with the return of a familiar face — Jarvis. He’s being shown the new Avengers headquarters by Black Panther. Jason Aaron has brought back the iconic butler to introduce the team of characters that’s going to recruit to be the ground crew for the Avengers. “We need agents. Intelligence gatherers. Stealth operatives. People with a wide variety of unique skills who can work alone in the most inhospitable regions imaginable.” What follows is the recruitment and tasks of these members who were seen on the Regular cover. Aaron has got a real talent in creating the characters’ individual voices. This is the longest encounter I’ve ever had with Gorilla-Man and he’s a terrific character. Janet Van Dyne is back on board as the Wasp and she’s shown being recruited for her mission to pick another vampire related character. Ka-Zar is much more savage in this issue than I recall him being in the 1980’s and I’d love to see more of him. Another new character for me is Broo. I understand why the Avengers need an I.T. operative, but this character’s species does make me wonder how he came into being. The action scene in space is good, with the threats being returning creatures from a previous issue. I really was pleased with whom the Avenger has with her — I would love to see more of this character. The character that assists the pair in space was a surprise and a joy to see in action. The character that Black Panther visits was strong, and is an obvious favorite of Aaron’s, for the character teases another long tale, only to be quickly shut down by T’Challa. Three other agents make appearances and are greeted by Gorilla-Man. The issue concludes with Black Panther presenting to the Avengers the intelligence his agents have recovered this issue, which impresses Captain America. The final page has an iconic character recovered from a previous issue and ready to help the heroes. This was fantastic in how the characters are introduced and what each will do to help out the main team. I couldn’t applaud this enough with how smoothly each individual appears and acts. Overall grade: A+

The art: It’s obvious that there’s more than one artist on this book, as there have been on previous issues. Ed McGuinness and Cory Smith are credited as the artists, while Mark Morales, Karl Kesel, and Scott Hanna are the inkers. I would prefer to see that each artist’s contributions are specifically stated on the credits page so that praise or concern could be stated to the correct individual, rather than blindly given. The first page has the Panther and Jarvis walking the halls of the new headquarters. The hero looks fine, but that’s a really stocky Jarvis. I love the look of Gorilla-Man, with him looking sad, funny, and threatening. Great variety of emotions from the artist on these two pages. The Wasp certainly gets the standard hero pose when she first appears, but it’s just okay. I loved the look of Okoye whenever she appeared and I loved the room where she and her king speak. Her response to the person she’s delivering to an assignment is great and the person’s exit to that assignment is fantastic. I’m still a bit uncomfortable with the I.T. individual, but I’ll give him time. He just looks like comic relief. The action in space is cool, with the reaction from the passenger looking outstanding. The large panel on 12 is an exciting illustration and has me hungry to see more of this character. A different art team obviously takes over for the next three pages. They look okay, but aren’t as sleek as the previous pages, with the fire really effect clunky. The three characters introduced at the top of the panel that bleeds from 16 and 17 is great, with the last two being new to me. The reveal on 18 is funny, but the character in the foreground looks awkward. The last image of the book is a full-paged splash and it’s a glorious reveal of this character. This illustration gets me pumped for further appearances by this individual. The art on this book is fine, but it’s obviously not one artist doing it. I don’t understand why Marvel can’t find one artist to be wholly responsible for its flagship team book. Overall grade: B-

The colors: Erick Arciniega is the book’s colorist and he does a fine job on this book. I like that when Jarvis gets his close-up the colors behind him go to a warm, friendly bronze. The colors in Timbuktu are harsh oranges and yellows, creating heat on the pages. I like that when Gorilla-Man leans in to Black Panther a humorous red appears behind them and outlines the pair, showing them to be joined in a partnership. Janet’s armor has a solid shine to it, but her face is very flat, though Arciniega does what he can to give it depth with shading. I am in love with the coloring on 6 and 7, which is a call back to the country of the character spotlighted that was seen last issue. Classic red is used for danger occurring to a ship in space, used by movies, television shows, and comics forever. The sleek grays on 12 add to the hype of the character in action. The reds and oranges on 15 look tossed on; there’s no depth to them. This causes the images in the first three panels to blend into one another. The final page is glorious for the colors on the primary character. For a character with such a dark wardrobe, every element of him stands out. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Scene settings and character identifiers (the same font), dialogue, transmissions, and Asgardian speech are crafted by VC’s Cory Petit. I’m still not pleased that the scene settings and character identifiers are the same font. Each should physically be different from the other because each is accomplishing different tasks for the reader. I am finding myself stopping at times, wondering if I’m being told I’m at a new place or meeting a new character. The dialogue is expertly placed without stepping on the visuals, and there’s a considerable amount of dialogue for Petit to place. The transmissions are set apart from dialogue by italics, which is common practice in comics, and the Asgaridan dialogue is in the font that’s been used for several years, instantly identifying for long time readers who is speaking. There are no sounds to speak of in this issue as there’s none needed. Overall grade: B

The final line: A key issue to have as this introduces the ground crew for the main Avengers. It’s wonderful to see these characters, again, and how they interact with others. The visuals continue to be strong to better than average, due to there continuing to be more than one artist and inker on this book. If the visuals were more consistent, my grade would be higher. I’m enjoying the story immensely, I just wish the visuals were better. Overall grade: B+

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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.
    One Comment
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