In Review: Avengers #13

This is another reason that Jason Aaron's needs to be writing the adventures of the Avengers 1,000,000 B.C. 

The covers: Iron Fist of 1,000,000 B.C. leaps down at the reader in this neat Regular cover by Steve Epting. I’m not a fan of Iron Fist, in any iteration (It’s me, Marvel, not you), but I do like this for the point of view, making me feel like I’m about to die at this hero’s hand and feet. Very cool. The Conan Variant cover by Mike McKone & Jesus Aburtov has the Cimmerian raising a short sword to battle Ultron. The angle is at forty-five degrees and makes the battle thrilling. Unfortunately, Conan’s arms are really thin, his sword isn’t very long, and Ultron is a mess with all his reflective surfaces. This is a rare misfire from McKone and Aburtov. The Guardians of the Galaxy Variant cover by Patch Zircher & Jason Keith has nothing to do with this issue, instead focusing on the original line-up of this team: Vance Astrovik, Charlie-27, Martinex T-Naga, Starfox, Yondu Udonta, and Niki. It’s a great image, but why put it on this series? Overall grades: Regular A-, Conan Variant D+, and Guardians of the Galaxy Variant B

The story: As I stated in my cover review, I’ve liked never Iron Fist. Never hated him, but never gotten into any character with super martial arts abilities. The same goes for any DC character, even the one in my beloved Legion of Super-Heroes. I have to say that I was really impressed with Jason Aaron’s tale of the 1,000,000 B.C. origin of this character. Little Fan Fei has brought before the leader of K’un-Lun because she has been caught sneaking outside the city’s gates to teach kung-fu to cavemen. She did this because she ‘saw them being stalked by sabertooth tigers. Butchered by man-apes. I only taught them how to defend themselves.’ Those that she has taught are brought forward and thrown into a pit that contains the dragon that will kill them. Watching these people die inspire her to show one feat of defiance to the dragon before being killed and she escapes from her captors to leap into the pit and she kills the beast. And, remarkably, she doesn’t die. She is then exiled for killing the beast and stranded on Earth for eternity with her “foul iron fists.” Iron Fist continues to battle for cave people, not knowing why she continues to do so, and slaughtering any creature that tries to kill her. She has no one to speak to until a talking snake crosses her path. It’s the same snake that spoke with Ghost Rider of this time period in an earlier Avengers issue. Their dialogue is fantastic and it’s now obvious that this character is going to have something major to do with the current lineup in the present day. There’s a cool twist in the story when the talking snake leads one of her antagonists to an artifact that became world famous last year. The ending is outstanding and teases that there are more tales to tell with this character and her iconic team. Overall grade: A

The art: I love the artwork of this issue. I’m a fine of thin lined artwork and artist Andrea Sorrentino delivers that in this book. The opening page is a full-paged splash that shows the reclusive, mystical city of K’ul-Lun from afar. It’s beautiful. The first image on Page 2 is the passive face of Fan Fei as she’s brought before the one who will sentence her. He looks like he’s stepped out of Lucha libre because of his costume; I’m sure it fits in well with other Iron Fist villains, but for me it was a bit silly, but I could roll with it. I like how he always has his head up to Fan Fei, as though she’s beneath him. The killing of the cave people is shown off panel, as they’re kicked into the pit that holds the dragon, but it’s pretty terrifying to look upon. The bottom panel on Page 3 is outstanding, comprised of a sound that features an image within it. This was a great way to show two things at once to the reader. Fan Fei’s realization that she will have vengeance on 4 is made up of twelve panels with each showing a close-up or distant shot of the hero in action. It’s terrific. Page 5 has an immense panel of the dragon dying at Fan Fei’s hands and it’s incredible. I’m not full of superlatives here — this is amazing artwork. Page 7 shows the hero trudging into the wilderness, ending with an image of blood splattering that teases the violence she’s endured while battling others. The next two pages show in an large panel, practically a double-paged spread, of Iron Fist fighting several members of the Gorgilla Clan, with ten smaller panels showing her fists of strength over time. The introduction of the talking snake is outstanding, including how she deals with the creature. The circular panel that tops 11 is an outstanding way to show the speakers encircling her. What a Gorgilla finds is rendered well and will make the reader gasp at its power. When this creature and Iron Fist go at each it is extremely explosive. The last page has the traditional hero’s exit from a story, with several familiar faces in the sky. I NEED to see Sorrentino continuing this character’s chronicles. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I wish that the credits had stated which of the two colorists, Justin Ponsor and Erick Arciniega, had done which pages so I could be more specific with my comments, but Avengers’ comics have been lacking this detail for some time. C’mon, Tom Brevoort, time to change that! The oranges on the first six pages give the story an ancient flavor, with Fan Fei’s narration in yellow to identify for the reader whose thoughts they are. Having the judge’s mask be blue makes him stand apart from other character’s in his coloring. The splatter of red on 7 is graphic without the gore, but is startling enough to ready the reader for what’s to be shown. I love the coloring of the first three fists shown on 8 which show the passage of time through colors. Having the serpent on a white background makes it stand out and separates it from Fan Fei. The violets that appear on 15 foreshadowed what the item was before it was shown. The violets that follow on the next three pages are excellent. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Cory Petit creates the issue’s text which includes scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), the titles of the moves she’s making, and yells. I like the strong scene settings which are a quick draw for the eye and lead the reader smoothly into the next locale. I wish the narration and dialogue had been differed by their design, rather than the balloon or box containing them. I really liked the titles given to each of her moves, making them powerful. The yells are few, but when they appear are good. I was really disappointed in the lack of sound effects. One of the joys of a comic book are the sounds and this book was sadly mute. This isn’t Petit’s fault, but writer Aaron’s. It makes me sad to think that a young reader will never hear the joy within their mind of Marvel mayhem. Overall grade: B

The final line: This is another reason that Jason Aaron’s needs to be writing the adventures of the Avengers 1,000,000 B.C. I am now a fan of this Iron Fist and would love to see more of her in another book or series. The visuals are incredible, with the art and colors breathtaking. The letters are good, though the lack of sounds does diminish their joy. Marvel, why isn’t Aaron doing Avengers’ stories set in the distant past? This is recommended reading. 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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