After poking some fun at events in the previous issue, U.S. Avengers #5 dives headfirst into the Secret Empire crossover. Is it good?
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Jesus Aburtov & Paco Diaz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Well, that didn’t take long. For readers of this series and its predecessor, New Avengers, it’s hard to look at U.S. Avengers #5 without immediately recalling the way Al Ewing poked fun at events in the previous chapter. That’s not to say that the book feels disconnected, U.S. Avengers #4 was almost certainly created to set the stage for the Secret Empire crossover here, but perhaps some of the jokes there hit home a little too well.
While Al Ewing is almost immaculately able to weave in past continuity and whatever the current event is into his titles, Steve Rogers’ appearance here can’t help but feel a little shoehorned. Ewing utilizes Steve’s rank to justify his visit to Bobby and A.I.M., but since he hadn’t really appeared at all in prior issues, it comes a bit out of left field. Fortunately this doesn’t hold down the entire issue.
The conversation between Steve and Bobby immediately sets the intense tone for the issue. Ewing has a blast playing off the readers’ knowledge that Steve is part of HYDRA and little turns of phrase that would normally feel right at home coming from Steve’s mouth now have an added layer of disgust to them. Ewing also cleverly uses this meeting to quickly explain the status quo of Bobby’s team, providing a helpful entry point for any readers that are just picking this up for their Secret Empire collection.
Where the issue really excels, however, is when it turns its attention to the members of Bobby’s team. Ewing uses the built up tension between Bobby and Steve and carries that into a scene between Aikku and Toni, whose relationship is strained by the latter’s constant tinkering with the Iron Patriot armor. Artist Paco Diaz does a great job highlighting the distance between the couple, showing Toni constantly working with her back to Aikku.
Diaz also shows off his talents for fun and dynamic action when the attention turns to Cannonball and Smasher, who are a whole galaxy away. The two are defending a Shi’ar colony with their infant son, Josiah, in tow. Diaz gives the art a lot of fun details, such as when little Josiah throws up his hands in joy as Sam blasts through an enemy ship. The whole scene is a nice demonstration of how Ewing utilizes continuity; the Sam-Izzy relationship had hardly been touched post Secret Wars and there was a question as to whether Josiah had been retconned out of existence. Not only are these questions answered, but Ewing utilizes Sam’s stress of living on two worlds to build toward an epic cliffhanger as the Secret Empire story line comes crashing in.
Is It Good?
Though the issue doesn’t completely do away with readers’ potential event fatigue, U.S. Avengers #5 provides enough of its own entertainment with its character interactions. Its these smaller moments that create a “calm before the storm” tension as Bobby’s team, and the rest of the Marvel Universe, are utterly unprepared for the betrayal that is coming.