Al Ewing tests the market’s love of events in U.S. Avengers #4. Is it good?
U.S. Avengers #4 (Marvel Comics)
Whether or not one will enjoy U.S. Avengers #4 will largely depend on how one responds to the gimmick employed by Al Ewing. This is a comic book event contained within a single issue, meaning that the issue’s narrative is broken down into four segments, each with its own cover. As such, there’s a ton of meta humor, from the issue numbers to the way that the story is told, which each issue feeling like it just got started before the inevitable “To Be Continued” appears at the bottom of the page.
There’s a sense of catharsis with Ewing’s approach here. Between his work on Mighty Avengers, its sequel Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, The Ultimates, and U.S. Avengers’ predecessor, New Avengers, there’s been a pattern of Ewing getting a story started before being thrown into another event tie-in. For Ewing’s part, these “interruptions” have largely felt natural and born out of a narrative he already had planned, but it’s entertaining to see him take this shot at events here.
As one might imagine from the cover, U.S. Avengers features the return of American Kaiju, and so Sunspot deploys the Red Hulk to take down the behemoth. Along the way, Deadpool gets thrown into the mix, and the rest of the issue is largely a throwdown between the heroes and the giant monster.
“In moonlight, red hulks look blue.”
Such a fight calls for some great action, and artist Paco Medina is more than up to the challenge. The unique structure of the issue requires each story beat to be extremely well paced, and Medina shows a great economy on the page. A fight between Red Hulk and a zombified opponent is staged in such a way that it suggests a knockdown filled brawl, even though the back and forth has to be minimized to save space.
Inker Juan Vlasco ensures that Medina’s pencils aren’t lost or muddled. From the small scars on Deadpool’s face, to the sinister shadows of the issue’s villain, Vlasco deftly balances detail with dramatic inks to keep the arch-narrative feel to the issue. Had the panels felt overly detailed, it might have created a visual dissonance within the comic; a grit that wouldn’t feel deserved or appropriate. Jesus Aburtov’s colors also help with getting the tone right. The cool blues and greens of the nighttime setting are vivid, working well with the reds of the characters to create a book that’s pleasing to look at.
Is It Good?
U.S. Avengers #4 is an ambitious book, structuring the narrative around an unusual workflow. The gambit pays off, however, as Ewing, Medina, Vlasco, and Aburtov create a comic that is refreshing and wildly entertaining. Perhaps the cruel irony of U.S. Avengers #4 is that it pokes fun at events, even as the series prepares itself to get caught up in Secret Empire. Hopefully those tie-in stories are as well crafted as the ones in this issue.