In Review: Avengers #7

This earns my highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Four covers to track down for this amazing issue. Geoff Shaw and Jason Keith have created the Regular cover which features the Ghost Rider of One Million B.C. riding his faithful flaming woolly mammoth. It’s a terrific image, with the mammoth coming right at the reader. Ghost Rider looks great, head back in a vengeful laugh and his fist on fire. The coloring is also great. The light green background makes the orange and yellow flames pop. I also like that the mammoth has a bit of red in her pelt. The Clayton Crain Variant has Ghost Rider standing on one of his mount’s tusks. His skull is the only part of his body on fire, as he shows a considerable amount of skin, wearing several leather straps around his chest and a tiny loincloth. He’s holding a whip made of spinal bones that are on fire. His mammoth is shown in profile, her eye a ball of flame and fire outlines her. An unexpected illustration that looks good. Ema Lupacchino and Jason Keith are listed in the credits as creating a variant cover for this issue, but I can’t find an image of it online. Instead I find a Tradd Moore Variant cover featuring Cosmic Ghost Rider. I’m not following that comic, but at least this cover spotlights an incarnation of Ghost Rider who’s a character in this book. This type of cross promotion is okay, but since I know nothing about either character this doesn’t make me want to pick it up. The Eve Ventrue Variant spotlights Spider-Man beaten by the Negative Man, who holds the hero over a knee. The background has a wolfman bust in gray. Under the artist’s signature there’s an “after Jae Lee.” What cover this is referencing, I don’t know. What another series or hero is doing on an Avengers book also escapes me. This is an okay cover, but I have absolutely no reference to it and I’d rather have a frontpiece that features a character from the book I’ve purchased. Overall grades: Regular A, Crain Variant A-, Moore Variant C+, and Ventrue Variant C-

The story: This is a fantastic story by Jason Aaron. This shows how Little Ghost, a caveboy, became the Ghost Rider of One Million B.C. The issue starts with Little Ghost narrating that everyone in his small pack communicates by grunts and fists. He didn’t know his father, and didn’t think his mother did either. ‘Even as a child, I was already smarter than everyone I knew, which was my great secret. My great shame. I was different, and different was frightening to my people. Different would get you cast out, left in the snow.’ One day a stranger in white enters the cave bearing something none of them has seen before, a knife. He uses his weapon to become the new leader of the pack. After his bloody win, the pale stranger goes to boy and talks to him. The boy is surprised, “I didn’t know…there were others…who could make the sounds.” They talk about how they are both different from the others, with the stranger saying, “It doesn’t matter how we’re born different. But the why is clear. We are this world’s true masters.” It is then that the stranger reveals another aspect of himself and changes the boy’s future. The dialogue on 6 is fantastic, it’s rooted in classical epics and myths. The next character that the boy encounters initially seems inspired by character from Kipling, but when it speaks its name long time Marvel fans will be screaming. What follows is epic storytelling, with the characters meeting and well aware of what the other can do. There’s an epic fight, a surprising conclusion, and an epilogue that’s fantastic. This story had me unable to turn pages fast enough to see what would happen next. I loved this. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals on this book are outstanding. The art is by Sara Pichelli, with inks supplied by Pichelli and Elisabetta D’Amico. The opening five pages are a tremendous step back in time showing how cave people existed. To see Little Ghost in the fourth and fifth panel on the first page engaging in an well known action shows that he truly is different from his pack. The arrival of the stranger in the first panel on second page is wonderful; his face is not shown, only a silhouette of him and then a close-up of his chest as he pulls his blade. Little Ghost’s reaction to the stranger’s battle is perfection; it is much better to see how he considers this fight more so than seeing the actual conflict. When the stranger speaks with Little Ghost he resembles a buff Santa Claus with white hair and beard, and a matching animal skin on his shoulders. Things take a visual turn in the final panel on Page 4 as the stranger’s true nature is revealed, but not completely shown to the reader. In fact, it will not be until their battle years later when the reader will see the stranger fully. I love how Pichelli teases the stranger’s true form. The individual that Little Ghost later meets is fantastic; he’s absolutely ominous, but he becomes horrific once his name is spoken. The transformation on Page 9 and 10 is horrific and perfect. I love the visual that shows this new character’s exit from this issue (the second panel on 10). Page 11 is beautiful for showing the scale of nature to man, or what the reader assumes to be a man. The arrival on the full-paged splash on 12 is fantastic. Every page after this is filled with incredible supernatural imagery set against the Ice Age. The true form of the stranger is outstanding, the fight excellent, the bottom panel on 16 needs to be a poster, the shock and brilliance of the first panel on 18, the shocking exit on 19, and the beautiful full-paged splash on 20 that has two new characters appearing. I loved every page of this book for it being beautiful, strong, and epic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Justin Ponsor is the book’s colorist and he does an impressive job. The first panel is beautiful for the colors chosen to make this exterior setting wholly believable. I especially like the shadow work done with the snow. The interiors of the caves are lit by fire, but aren’t too dark. Instead they are a strong orange, creating stress in every illustration, be it Little Ghost taking the action at the bottom of 1 or reacting to the fight on 2. I like how the protagonist’s narration is in brown colored boxes, giving this thoughts a cave dweller tone. The stranger is a stand out character for being almost entirely in white, making him pop against the oranges and browns of the cave. Crimson becomes a key color when the stranger begins his horrors. The second character the boy meets is also white, but features terrific blues for shading. Colors are key when Little Ghost becomes the Ghost Rider and the work with oranges and yellows on those pages are great. My favorite colors of the book appear on Page 11 with that pink sky and violet snow to show dawn as beautiful. It’s also a good way to have the reader believe all is calm before turning the page. Orange and yellow reign in the battle sequences, with Ghost Rider’s eternal flame and abilities employing these colors. Oranges also dominate on the final page with some arrivals. The colors are so fine on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s scene settings, narration and dialogue (the same font), yells, sounds, thoughts, and a character’s unique form of speech all hail from VC’s Cory Petit. I like the scene settings for being big and bold, proudly announcing where the reader is being taken in this tale. I do wish the narration and dialogue had been different fonts. Even italics would have been okay for narration, but seeing that thoughts become key at the end of the story I understand. However, those are set off by a very differently shaped dialogue balloon, so it would have been fine to use italics for narration. The yells are appropriately big, with them efficiently showing rage and anger to actions occurring. The sounds are also well done, and I have to call attention to those of the mammoth. Even before it becomes part of the Ghost Rider, its sounds are given a really thin and creepy font, as if the animal is already doomed. Nice touch by Petit. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This book is absolutely perfect. The story, art, colors, and letters are all at the highest possible caliber, delivering a must-read, must-own story for every comic fan. This is fun, thrilling, and incredible to look upon. This is why comic books continue to be published. This earns my highest possible recommendation. 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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