The most dynamic school in Comics holds yet another class in awesomeness, as choices are made in an issue that tackles a very important subject.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Avengers Academy #8
Written By: Christos Gage
Penciled By: Mike McCone
Inked By: Rebecca Buchman
Colored By: Jeromy Cox
What happens when impressionable Super-Powered teenagers decide to take matters into their own hands? The answer may well surprise you in more ways than one.
With hindsight being 20/20, one could easily conclude that the rise of the "Avengers" franchise was something that was destined to happen. Not only were the original Big 3 of Marvel (Captain America, Iron Man and Thor) connected to the team, but a great number of the major Marvel Character that weren't X-Men, or involved in their own book had been an Avenger of some sort during the years. The only ingredient missing was the creative vision that could get the commercial and executive support that it needed for it to come to fruition. Brian Michael Bendis would provide that vision, and the rest is history.
Fast forward 6 years later, and it's very clear to everyone that "Avengers" has truly become the face of Marvel. Anchored by New Avengers, the franchise (and its characters), has spun off into so many comic books, that the only way to compare the Phenomenon that it has become is to put it up against the X-Men Franchise of the 90's, and the current Batman Franchise that dominates DC today. This isn't to say that there haven't been some growing pains with this rise, however. Despite its commercial success, the new direction disenfranchised quite a number of fans who enjoyed Avengers before "Disassembled" cleared the way for the new direction, a sentiment that hasn't soothed with time. Another misgiving that should be noted is that with so many high profile titles under this banner, there is a growing trend for many of its lower profile titles to get lost in the shuffle. Something that Avengers Academy arguably suffers compared to its higher profile Sister Books. However, this reviewer has noticed that more and more people are feeling that this is the best Avengers ongoing on the market, and after reading Avengers Academy #8 I can see where the buzz comes from.
For the past 6 years, Marvel has been no stranger to causing its readership to buzz, due to its Controversial Actions. From numerous creative choices, to actions (or reactions) of Creators in its employ, Marvel has certainly enjoyed its share of negative buzz, some of which this reviewer shares. If anything, one of my biggest misgivings at Marvel has not been with the ideas that have been implemented, but with the execution of their implementation. A subject that is unavoidable when talking about Avengers Academy #8 as the story is structured around Tigra's brutal beating at the hands of The Hood, something which I had misgivings due to the fact that stories of this type usually don't tackle the "traumatizing event" in a sufficient matter that makes the audience think the character has decided to put the event past them. Something that I'm ecstatic to say that doesn't happen here.
From the moment the issue begins, the readers understand that this issue will not be trivialized or glorified in any manner, as the academy teachers treat this with the seriousness this deserves. What's more important is that each and every line and action in this book matters, as we get a story where two completely different reactions to the event in question give weight to the situation being explored. Choices are made, and put into action as we get a 3 Dimensional story that not only entertains, but challenges. As I was reading this book, I cringed at certain points, and genuinely smiled widely at others. Christos Gage proves once again that you can make a Superhero Comic that doesn't have to be 20 pages of Costumed Freaks punching each other. Another amazing effort from a writer who is fast becoming one of the premier character writers in this medium.
When you're dealing with a rising star as dymanic as Gage, it's sometimes far too easy to forget that he has a great, if unheralded art team back him up, and after Avengers Academy #8 it definitely time that they get the credit they deserve. There's a lot to praise with this issue artwork, whose stunning backdrops help to make everything else look that much better. Another thing that stands out is the character artwork, which is absolutely stunning to look at not just from a technical standpoint, but from a storytelling standpoint as well. For starters, almost every panel carries the emotional expression of the character so well, that you can FEEL what they're feeling from the page, which only helps to make the dialogue and overall story stronger. Finally, McKone, Buchman and Cox should all be commended with how the females in this book are portrayed in this art, as none of the teenage females come across as some fanboy's sexual fantasy, something that's going to be very important if they're going to be taken seriously as characters in the long term, and I hope the Industry at large takes a few notes from this team.
As I end this review, I also want to reference something else that impressed me in this latest chapter opening for Avengers Academy, and that is the letters page, and how Christos handles himself when someone takes him the task on how he portrayed two of the student in Issue 6. Instead of giving a condescending, snarky answer that Marvel Creative Staff has become known for (not that a good chunk of this snark is unjustified, mind you.), Christos goes into length to explain his position, and understand where people could be uncomfortable in the material he's presenting, and even apologizes to those who may have been offended. Now while this reviewer thinks that people have probably made a bigger deal out of this than they should've, Christos understands that by addressing people's concerns in a sincere manner, he has done more long-term good for his book than any 3 Month tie-in could. In this day and age, writers also serve as the PR man for the book they're writing, and by handling this issue in the manner that he did, he has probably won even more respect than he was getting before, which is a major victory in this Business.
Overall, Avengers Academy #8 was an excellent story and start to the second major Arc for this title. The creative team continues to give us a fully fleshed out 3-Dimensional Cast who truly are the stars of this book, as they continue to become even more so through the choices and situations they're being thrust into. Even though its 3 Sister Books have higher profiles, this book may end up becoming the one I look forward to reading each month, something that I hope lasts for several years at this rate.
Story ****1/4: Avengers Academy continues to be a meaty 3 Dimensional Read, as this book tangles with an issue that deserved this level of writing to address it, something that more Comics need.
Art ****1/2: Not only is the art extremely easy on the eyes, but the impressive facial work helps to enhance an already strong story. This is truly and art team going places.
Accessibility ***1/2: Even though this story would probably have more weight if you already knew about the incident in question (and the teenage characters involved in this book), but you will not be totally lost if you picked this book up on a whim due to the fact that the writing and art are top notch.
Final Judgment: **** (Excellent)
Reviewed by Linwood Earl Knight
Review by: SilverPhoenix