Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Comic Book Wednesdays - Mighty Avengers #26

Mighty Avengers #26
Written by Dan Slott
Pencils by Steven Segovia and Noah Salonga

The Mighty Avengers are going toe to toe with the fantastic four in a grudge match that began when famed scientist Reed Richards asserted to Hank Pym's face that he knew more about the pym particles than Pym himself did. Reed and Hank's battle of egos is just on the surface of it; if Hank doesn't get the late Bill Forrester's Dimensional Wave Inducer back from Reed, his lab and even some of the Avengers may be trapped in the Pym pocket forever! All of that is to say nothing of Hank Pym's continued love affair with A.I. Jocasta, whose brain patterns are the same as those as Hank's wife!

When I first returned to Mighty Avengers, which also happened to be my first comic review, I said that Slott's Avengers could well become an outstanding character-centered comic. Looking at it now, I can proudly stand by that prediction. Often what happens with super-hero comics is that they become bogged down by the melodramatic and ultra violent. The nineties may be over, by the dark and violent tone has never been more universal. The world is always ending in comic books, so why does every disaster need to seem (ha!) like it's the end of the world? Slott has continued to manage to write his characters light, without ever crossing too drastically into the realm of humor for humor. While Simone's Secret Six has many of the same virtues, its humor is black comedy and it isn't close to the tone that Slott manages to create. The world being what it is, it's refreshing to read a comic that is so purely a super-hero romp and doesn't take itself to seriously.

This particular issue is very strong, but not without flaws. Most notably that U.S. Agent and Quicksilver-- sent on a international mission last issue-- were completely absent this month. Understandably, Slott probably wants to wrap up the clash between the fantastic four and the Avengers, but surely he could have slipped a page or two for the other one-third of the Mighty Avengers. In addition to that, Reed Richards plays a fantastic villain in these past few issues-- so much so that I wonder if the other members of the Fantastic Four should double check and make sure they're no remnants left from the skrull invasion. Slott did the same thing with Tony Stark. I can only imagine that this is some forceful attempt for anti-Pym readers to sympathize with a long disliked and/or neglected character. I can't say that it isn't working, but for those who are already fans of the character-- myself included-- the portrayals of Reed and Tony seem to be coming from a writer who so completely hates the characters.

In addition to all of this, Cassie Lang or Stature, a character I was only vaguely familiar with, continues to be an annoying bothersome presence in the title. From the beginning she has been the person at the party who always shatters the positive with a huge fart, soap boxing about her particular feelings and allegiances. Slott seems to know the character's nature-- she's cut down rather wonderfully by Jocasta in the issue-- but it doesn't seem that he knows how grating she is to the reader. Perhaps those who have read her prior to Mighty Avengers can sympathize more.

Finally, the issue leaves off with a whopper of a cliff hanger that is so mysterious is almost seems unfair that it should be withheld from the reader for another month. It is positive in its way, certainly bringing readers back for the following issue, but overwhelmingly frustrating at the same time as not even a clue is given to the reader to think on.

RATING: 8 out of 10
Slott's Mighty Avengers is a great throw back to the Avengers comics of the seventies, and it gives fans of the true Avengers, rather than those of Bendis, exactly what they're looking for. Hop on as soon as possible as you want in, because it seems that Slott's Avengers run is going to have sprawling continuity that will confound readers trying to get on board too late on.

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