Jonathan Hickman’s mega-epic in the Marvel Universe, Infinity, continues this week in the main, and adjective-less Avengers title. The galaxy’s various empires are uniting against a common enemy, The Builders, and Earth’s Avengers have taken the battle to them. Join me, after the jump, for my review of Avengers #18.
Space Opera Sans Avengers
Now, just like my review of Infinity #1, I’m going to complain a little, but please keep in mind, this is really a good comic. Much like Man of Steel was a good movie, but not a very good Superman movie – this was not a very good Avengers comic.
We, along with the Avengers for the most part, are bystanders watching as the great empires of the galaxy come together to face a common foe. The Skrulls relate their unification and then the council formulates an attack plan against The Builders. I do however find it odd that no one questions this enemy’s name.
Unlike the alien bits in Infinity #1, here it’s intriguing and engaging. I could have read many more pages of the Skrulls or the Imperial Guard. Jonathan Hickman writes great space opera. Let me be clear, if it was like this, I would quite happily buy a six-issue (hell, eight- or ten-issue) series like this. Pushing the Avengers aside in their own book sours it a bit for me.
Where Are the Avengers?
One of my problems with big events of the past, especially those by writer Brian Michael Bendis, and particularly his Secret Invasion, is that the event and the story take lead, and the characters fall into the background. In Secret Invasion, supposedly an Avengers event, the actual Avengers title became a graveyard for flashbacks and subplots, with the real story being told in the mini-series event title.
I had feared that here too, Avengers might just be a side show rather than the main program. That’s not quite the problem here, it’s more of the Avengers being background or minor characters. Let’s face it, while the title of this title is Avengers, it could also have been The Skrulls, The Imperial Guard, or The Galactic Council. Hell, the Avengers aren’t even in the cover of the comic I purchased.
Except for one or two panels of dialogue, we don’t get much of the Avengers. What we do get is good however – Black Widow asking Spider-Woman if she’s okay working with the Skrulls, Captain America and Hawkeye as friends and equals, and Bruce Banner admiring the Imperial Guard. However, since when can Shang-Chi fly a quinjet?
Like I said, don’t get me wrong, this is a good comic. Besides the words of Hickman, there are the visuals of Leinil Yu. I actively disliked his scratchy style early on in the Bendis Avengers era, but he grew on me, improved in subtle ways, fine-tuned his artistic approach, and is now one of my favorite artists at Marvel.
Years ago it would be a struggle to tell one character from another, but now his definition of the Avengers and other characters comes close to Buscema and Perez. The litmus test used to be could be – could you tell who was who if Cap, Hawkeye, and Pym stood next to each other without their masks? I dare say Yu is up there.
I enjoyed Avengers #18 a lot more than Infinity #1. I just wish there was more Avengers in it. Looking forward to the next installments.