Thursday, February 26, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Mighty Avengers #22

Mighty Avengers #22
Written by Dan Slott
Pencils by Khoi Pham

It can’t be said that the marvel universe has a shortage of characters. In the past seventy years the pages of Marvel comics has seen everything from Big Wheel, a super-villian who commits crimes by riding around in a (Oh, yeah) big wheel to Squirrel girl, the girl who has the ability to control squirrels (And people diss Aquaman! At least he has super-strength). While these outrageous ideas of characters fill Marvel’s history, it’s rare that a comic writer actually uses the character as it’s defined in other, more traditionally literary forms of writing.

What Slott seems to be excelling at is giving his characters room to change and develop. With the death of the Wasp at the end of Secret Invasion, and the subsequent release of Secret Invasion: Requiem a lot of suggestion and idea proposing was done as the status quo of Hank Pym’s relationship with the robot Jocosta (programmed with his deceased wife’s brain patterns). To be honest a romantic relationship between a and his robot (with his dead wife’s brain patterns) sounds like the foundation for a great work of science fiction, albeit twisted work of fiction and thankfully, Slott seems to be pursuing the idea. The nature of the Pym/Jocosta relationship gets even more concerning in this issue with a rather awkward half-page scene. Perhaps Slott is only pursuing this for comedy, but it’s for the best that he isn’t. Pym hasn’t had any new character milage since the seventies with the abuse story, and lesser writers have bringing it back ever since rather than giving Pym a new direction.

Slott’s character work goes beyond Pym. Another often neglected character in comics has been the Scarlet Witch’s brother Quicksilver who was revealed to be playing (bodily) host to the major villain of this story arc at the end of the last issue. In the first few pages of Slott’s second issue, he gives more insight and more direction to Quicksilver than the character has seen in years. Hopefully Slott chooses to keep him around once this particular story is over and work with it.

Curiously, one of the most uncomfortable parts of this issue was another case of characterization. Slott identifies U.S. Agent as a law-enforcing gun-loving man’s man- which isn’t completely inaccurate but what isn’t seen in this issue is the raging temper, and insubordinate attitude that he had been characterized with in years past (At least as I remember him). To make things worse, the character reacts violently when he sees unregistered super-heros. My recollection of the battle lines in Civil War is hazy, but hadn’t Agent been with Cap and the anti-regs? Isn’t that the reason he was in Canada fighting alongside Alpha Flight when Slott picked the character up for this Avenger’s run? Even if that’s not the case the moment was still uncomfortable given the current state of the MU.
The biggest problem plaguing Slott’s first arc is an overwhelming feeling of “Who cares?” - No fan that I know was clamoring for Mordrid’s return as an Avenger’s villain, and he’s entirely interchangeable. Let’s be honest- this first arc is only meant to reestablish the Avengers. The “deaths” in the last issue, and the “around the world” panels in this issue scream retcon. How this story pans is inconsequential, and it makes it hard to stay interested in the events. Lucky for Slott he’s good with his characters.

RATING: 6 out of 10.
It’s more about potential for the future than it is the issue itself. Pick up issues #21 and #22 if you want on the Avengers train. This comic will be going great places in just a couple of months.

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