The Students of Avengers Academy face their biggest test yet, but can 6 inexperienced teens stop a man that can alter reality at will?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Avengers Academy #12
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Tom Raney
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Penciler: VC's Joe Caramanga
Assistant Editor: John Denning
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Korvac has defeated The Avengers...now the world's only hope lies with the students of the Avengers Academy, who have been grown to adults! With time manipulated, the team gets a glimpse of what the future might hold for them. For some it's a revelation...for others a life sentence! Can they overcome their personal demons and master unfamiliar abilities in time to defeat a foe powerful enough to conquer Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Find out in the book that Newsarama's Best Shots calls "one of the best Avengers books – and, for that matter, one of the best Marvel books – on the stands.
What happens when you take 6 teenagers, give them a glimpse of their futures, and expose them to forces that could change their very lives? You get a comic that truly stands apart from the pack in almost every single way.
There's a reason why teenage superheroes have become such a giant part of the greater superhero lexicon. For almost everyone, our teenage years are a scary time where we're trying to figure out what we want in life, while we fight our hardest to be accepted by our peers. It's due to those circumstances (among others) that a world where one could be everything we wished to be is such an alluring fantasy. It is also due to that fantasy that "Avengers Academy" has quietly become one of the best books that Marvel is publishing right now, simply due that it tackles the fantasy in a refreshing, if sometimes heart wrenching manner.
In an of itself, "Avengers Academy" is able to set itself apart from the stories that came before it, due to how it presents its characters. The main thing that a reader notices about super-powered teenagers is that most of them have been damaged in one way or another that has rendered them deformed, walking hazards to most of the populace, or even slowly traveling towards that death. To make things worse, each of these characters has been damaged even further due to the machinations of Norman Osborn's time as the head of Superhero Registration Act. In large part, it is due to these circumstances (along with their interactions with their teachers, and each other) that we have been able to see these characters develop into 3-dimensional ones in such a short time, as they deal with the challenges and setbacks that come with their present lives. Can Avengers Academy #12 serve as the bookend to the first years' worth of stories that this book deserves? The answer is an empathetic yes.
On the surface, the plot of Avengers Academy #12 is quite basic, as the students are the only ones who can stop Korvac from taking control of reality itself. To give them a fighting chance, Carina (Korvac's Wife) merges their minds with their adult bodies from various timelines. As expected, the fight scene is well written with enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested in what happens next. It is also through that fight scene that everything else that happens around it makes the fight itself the least interesting part of the book.
From the first page of story, it's very apparent that the real story is how the students react to being shown their futures, as we soon realize that while each of these characters will become immensely powerful, some of them will not find the cures that they desperately seek, setting up 6 different narratives that help to give this issue much more importance to each of the spotlight characters. As the story goes on, each of these 6 characters reacts in different ways that serves to make almost all of these characters more fleshed out, as we learn quite a bit more about what makes them tick, and what their biggest desires are, as all of this backed up by meticulously careful writing that makes sure that we realize who each character is. It is also through that writing that the aftermath of the fight allows us to see the results (and potential consequences) that make this reviewer salivate at the potential for future storylines. When you put this all together, it is safe to say that Christos Gage has written one of the best single comics of 2011, especially once you take in the end, which has to be one of the most heartfelt moments I've seen in a long time in a Big 2 Superhero comic, a true sight to behold.
If there's one thing about "Avengers Academy" where opinions are extremely varied, it would have to be opinions about the art. On one hand, you'll have people that have nothing but praise for the work that the art team does, while you'll have people that'll tell you that the art makes the book worse. Without going into too many more details about that debate, I can safely say that I felt the art team stepped it up for this issue in two very important areas. Firstly, the art team does an amazing job in depicting each of the character's emotions, helping the reader get even more invested in what happens in the story. The second thing that stands out is the panel direction of the fight scene, as it takes a departure from the big spreads and goes for a more minimalist approach. By doing this, each character is allowed time to show the readers the new abilities, which in turn, helps to increase the drama that unfolds as things develop. Raney, Hanna, Cox and the rest of the art team deserve a big pat on the back for enhancing this issue that much more.
When it comes to the issue in question, finding a palatable flaw was quite a struggle, as it does almost everything correctly from dialogue to lettering. If there is something to crow about, it would have to be the lack of Finesse in this issue. Of course, for those of us who are already apart of the readership this isn't a big issue, due to the fact that she has gotten the most expansive character arc out of all 6 of the students thus far. However, if a reader is picking this up to satisfy a curiosity, there is a chance that Finesse might be seen as flat compared to the other teenagers. While it is very understandable why it had to happen, it still would've been nice to get a little bit more of how she took in everything that happened.
When everything is said and done, Avengers Academy #12 delivers a near perfect cap off to what has been one of the strongest first years for a Big-2 comic in what seems like ages. In a time where it feels like characterization is the least important thing, the creative staff has made it the foundation for this book, and it's through that foundation that this book has become the best Avengers book in this reviewers eyes. It is my sincere hope that "Fear Itself" gets the general comic fan truly interested so that we can have this book being produced for a long time. For fans that are sincerely looking for excellent comics to follow, Avengers Academy couldn't fit the bill more.
Story/Writing ****3/4: Christos Gage masterfully takes a fight that should be center stage, and builds such a story that the fight itself becomes a tool. Amazing storytelling all around
Art ****1/4: With great panel direction and extremely strong emotional depiction, the art in this book lifts it to another level entirely.
Accesbility ****: The Recap page does an excellent job getting people up to speed, and the overall writing job gives a new reader everything he or she needs to enjoy this story greatly. Even with one of the characters taking a backseat, there's a lot for a new reader to enjoy.
Final Judgment: ****1/2 (Stupendous)
Review by: Linwood Earl Knight