Al Ewing continues to not only juggle a large cast of characters in this series, but also a lot of different storylines. In this issue, the threat of Gideon Mace is left to the side and Blue Marvel takes centre-stage with an interesting new villain going up against him and the rest of the team. Ewing does all this with a great sense of humour and excellent dialogue, and it’s basically the total team book package.
We begin in Blue Marvel’s undersea fortress, where the still-possessed White Tiger is being looked over by Adam along with Luke Cage, Spectrum, She-Hulk and Power Man. The threat of lawsuits from Mace is hanging over them, but more importantly, even Adam doesn’t have much of an idea about how to fix what’s up with White Tiger and they aren’t having much luck getting help from the Marvel Universe’s magical superheroes. Even though I pretty much hated the recent Young Avengers run, I did like the nod towards it with Power Man wanting to call up Wiccan, but the older heroes not thinking he’s up to it because they don’t remember what happened. We get a short conversation between Luke Cage and Adam where they sort of bury the hatchet after their argument in #6, which was interesting, I thought that the animosity between them might be a bigger deal, but hey, they are both grown men, so it makes sense. I imagine it will blow up eventually though.
Before they can decide on what to do with Ava, Adam receives an alert that there’s been a breach into the Universe from ‘The Neutral Zone’ and that technology from WESPE (the German AIM-type dudes we saw him fighting in a previous issue) is behind it. He, Spectrum and She-Hulk head off to investigate, leaving the Power Men behind to look after the Tiger. When they reach the site of the Neutral Zone breach, they are attacked by some of WESPE’s Kill-Bots, which appropriately look like wasps. The fight between the Avengers and the Kill-Bots was a lot of fun, and allowed She-Hulk some time to shine. She hasn’t done much yet in this book, and since she now has her own title I get why she doesn’t need the spotlight, but still…She-Hulk smash! The villain behind these Kill-Bots is a guy in a Doctor Fate looking helmet by the name of Dr Positron, who seems to be very familiar with the Blue Marvel.
Back at the base, we get an insight into the war inside Ava Ayala’s mind for control of the body, and man, this is a fascinating scene, as Ewing totally turns things around on us. It starts with the Tiger God talking a big game about how it’s so powerful and wants total control, but Ava soon flips the tables and reveals that it’s her human side that’s actually the more powerful. This is because the Tiger is no longer feared or respected by humanity. It’s hunted, it’s kept in zoos, and people raise money to try and protect it. Humanity isn’t scared of tigers… they pity them. I loved this scene, it was a great blend of realistic detail with more out there supernatural stuff, like most of this series. Ava takes control and absorbs the Tiger spirit. She’s back, and better than ever! She even hugs Power Man, so hey, that little romance might be going places.
The other heroes make their way to Dr Positron’s base, which is of course in a Volcano, where he traps both She-Hulk and Spectrum before revealing himself to be… Blue Marvel’s son, Max! He’s angry at his father for what he feels is poor parenting, and he also blames him for the death of his mother and for his brother Kevin being trapped inside the Neutral Zone. This was all interesting stuff, but what it really says to me is that Marvel need to re-release the original Blue Marvel mini-series in trade. I know it’s probably on Comixology or something, but I don’t hold with digital. The reason for the Neutral Zone incursion is because Max is trying to get his brother back, but he’s obviously not as smart as his dad, because he didn’t know that the physics between the two planes were very different, and that when Kevin comes back through… he’s coming back giant-sized! This was another top-notch issue of Mighty, I like the way Ewing is going about focusing on the characters, last issue and this had much more White Tiger, and now Blue Marvel is the main character. This is a team book with a real focus on the characters, and that makes the humour shine through, and I would place money on Max being somehow related to Cortex, everything else has been.
This title can feel too spread out at times, but it really isn’t, and it always entertains. Valerio Schiti’s art was once again excellent, although on some panels it did seem like he was trying to copy Greg Land more than he was before. Look at Blue Marvel on pages 4 and 5, they look like Land trace-jobs. Is it a joke on Land? What’s the deal? But other than that, it looked ace all around.