Avengers got out of one crossover a couple months ago (Infinity) and now finds itself being shoved into another one, Original Sin. At this point, I’m hoping this is where the comic starts picking up after four months of basically dragging its feet through one of the most boring story arcs the comic has had up until now. Can being a tie-in finally give the book a much needed kick in the ass to get moving, or will it still provide almost nothing of interest? Is it good?
Avengers #29 (Marvel Comics)
After a very lengthy recap, Captain America wakes up and finally remembers Dr. Strange mind wiping him, ala Identity Crisis. He remembers Tony Stark ordering it to happen because Rogers wanted to find a different solution. He remembers them reforming the Illuminati. Now, Captain America is very grumpy.
Now let us all have a silent moment in honor of decompression.
I have been very hard on Hickman’s Avengers run and for good reasons. Flat characters, decompression, lack of things going on, heroes that can’t win anything, etc. However, I am also very fair when a comic that I have been not enjoying does something right or is better than what I expect. This issue is one of those cases. This is by far the best issue of the comic so far, without a doubt. We finally follow up on New Avengers #3, we see real human emotions and reactions out of these cardboard cutouts, the decompression here actually has some weight to it (the scene where Captain America wakes up is good) instead of padding out the comic, there are some genuine great moments, the potential fallout from this issue alone makes this easily the most interesting the comic has ever been, and more. Finally this comic has become worth reading.
That being said, this issue still has problems that really detracted from the ground it made. Let’s start with the most glaring you’ll notice about the comic before you actually even read it: this issue will cost you five dollars, an extra dollar more than usual. The issue does have more pages in it than usual to help explain away the cost, but the problem is that making the issue longer does not help. The comic is about 26 pages long not including “Previously On Avengers”, the page that shows you all the characters in it, and the credits. That may sound decent until you realize that eight of those pages are just recapping New Avengers #3 and is not actually new content. So in reality, you are getting roughly 18 pages worth of new material. In comparison, Batman Eternal #6 came out this week and has 18 pages worth of story and costs you three dollars. That’s just not right and feels like a rip off if anything.
Ever get that feeling of déjà vu? Oh well, probably nothing.
Now the eight page “recap” is redrawn by a new artist, this time being Leinil Francis Yu, and throughout these pages we are shown Captain America tossing and turning in bed as he remembers everything. So it’s kind of new and not just lazily slapping the pages from the New Avengers #3 into this comic, but that’s still not good. Considering the single page recap tells almost the same thing that the eight pages do, these pages are essentially worthless and could easily be cut to get the same effect. Instead of recapping the entire scene where Rogers is getting mind wiped, shorten it up to three pages (make sure to include the Infinity Gems failing) and you still get the same effect of him waking up and remembering everything. This is not too hard.
But it’s not just the price alone and the padding of the recap, there are other things that really hold the issue back. While dialogue improved in some areas, it can still be pretty bland in others. Tony Stark grows more unlikeable and frankly leads to a lack of caring of whether he lives or dies (seriously, if he dies by the end of this run, who honestly cares anymore?). The story structure for the most part is fine, but it goes all to hell in the final pages. The panels don’t follow any logic (he’s on the ground and it’s dark, next panel is standing up and the room is glowing, next panel he is back on the ground), the Time Gem just appears out of nowhere (deus ex machina!), and the ending is so abrupt and cuts to weirdest non sequitur out of nowhere that it’s like almost getting whiplash.
Can we get that in slow motion please?
The artwork for the comic brought to us by Leinel Francis Yu, who drew the Avengers Infinity issues. His work remains the best of the entire run, with his well-drawn characters that looks distinct from everyone, the inking and coloring that captures the moody feel and tone of the issue, and the impressive looking but extremely static and slideshow-esque fight scenes. The only problems that can be seen with the artwork is that it seems to degrade at points through the issue, where the linework looks cleaner and more finished to where it becomes very scratchy and less detailed. Not nearly as bad as a previous issue he did for the run, but something I noticed as I read the comic.
Black Widow, what the hell is going on with your outfit and the way you’re attacking?
Is It Good?
Avengers #29 could possibly be the best issue of Hickman’s run to date, being leaps and bounds better in areas that comic was doing poorly in before. The thing is though, it has some serious problems that hold it back from being all it could be. With a price point and lack of extra story content, alongside some art flubs and a horribly structured ending, this issue feels almost like a big rip off that’s just trying to suck out extra money from you. As such, it leaves the issue in a hard place, where it’s good, but also bad. It’s best to read this in the stores and make the judgment of whether or not you would want to purchase this.