Avengers Academy #13 - 'Prom Night' - Gage, Chen, Hanna & Cox
Story - For a book that stars mostly all-new characters, it's surprising how Avengers Academy is perhaps the most traditional Avengersy of all the various and sundry Avengers comics. It's the book that's dealt with the most traditional Avengersy villains, including the classic threat of Korvac, and most of all, it tells it's stories in the most traditional way. No Bendis back-and-forths here, and no terse Brubaker spy stuff, this is a classic superhero comic in all the best ways.
And this issue is another classic superhero story, the pause for breath issue. Like how the X-Men occasionally take a break from being hated and feared by those they protect by playing Baseball, the AA gang take a break from being trained to be the next generation of Avengers by having a Prom.
I must admit that I was confused by the timing of this. Being an Englishman I am of course not as familiar with the Prom as you Americans, but aren't they normally reserved for when students graduate? These guys are nowhere near graduation! But that doesn't really matter, it was a good excuse for some cool guest-stars and some decent character moments.
It wouldn't really be a Prom if there were only like 6 attendees, so various other Marvel teen heroes pop up, mostly the Young Allies and a couple of characters from Avengers: The Initiative that had been left in limbo, like Batwing, Hardball and everyone's favourite uesless fat-ass Butterball. And also some New Warriors, who are surely too old for Prom? It was good to see this next generation of heroes come together and spend some time together. We all know that these guys will never actually get to become the main characters of the Marvel Universe, but it's still fun to see how well Marvel has done at introducing new characters.
What follows at the Prom is some pretty standard Teen drama really, characters hooking up, characters arguing and all that stuff. I particularly liked the development of a relationship between Hazmat and Mettle, they are making quite a cute couple. I also liked Justice and Firestar's reconciliation. They were members of the main Avengers back when I first began to follow the series, and I've always had a soft spot for them.
So yeah, not much happened in this issue, some slight growth, and some interesting stuff between Hank Pym and Tigra. I really like Hank now that Jan is dead, just like how Cyclops became infinitely more interesting when Jean popped her clogs, Hank is more appealing when 'the love of his life' is dead. Not that I hate the Wasp or anything, I just think they work better apart, and we don't constantly get reminded that he smacked her upside her head. Oh yeah, and I was kind of disappointed that Reptil went back to being a teen so quickly, that looked like it was going to be a long-running plot. And they also missed a good opportunity to have him score the kids some booze for their prom. You're telling me that if one of your friends looked like he was 35 you wouldn't use it to get some booze? These kids are supposed to be (possibly almost) villains!
So yeah, this wasn't a momentous issue or anything, it was a character issue, and was a welcome breather after the crazy time-travel cosmic shenanigans of the Korvac arc. And with the Secret Six coming up, these characters needed a bit of a breather. Yes there were some silly moments and unreasonable actions, but these are troubled teens and this book does a better job than most of getting across teenage emotions, and this issue is no exception...
...except for the ill-advised use of Katy Perry's laughably bad song "Firework". That scene was pretty bad, not only is the song trite rubbish, but I can't really believe that characters as fucked up as the Avengers Academy would like Katy Perry, they'd be into darker music than that, it should have been The Smiths or something. Unless of course Finesse actually has felt like a plastic bag, Reptil felt so paper thin and Veil like a house or cards, so close from caving in.
Art - Sean Chen does a decent job of filling in here. He's been an artist I've been familiar with since he did Heroes Return Iron Man with Kurt Busiek way back when, and he's always been a decent pinch-hitter for any Marvel book since then. He doesn't set my world on fire, but he's a very good artist all the same. I think the best work he did here was making Adult Reptil and Teen Reptil look like the same person at different ages.
Best Line - 'Hey! Settle! No fighting amongst ourselves. This isn't the X-Men'