Christos Gage fills in for Dan Slott and introduces the original teen superhero to the most current teen superheroes: The Avengers Academy. Know-it-all kids getting schooled by the webhead...I'm down!
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Amazing Spider-Man #661
Cover: Ed McGuinness
"The Substitute" part 1
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Reilly Brown
"Spider-Man: Just Another Day"
Storytellers: Paul Benjamin and Javier Pulido
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$3.99 for 30 pages
Supposedly, Avengers Academy is a great title. It's one of those comics that gets dropped from many pull lists or doesn't get taken seriously for a couple of reasons.
- With so many Avenger titles, the one with the unproven and unknown heroes is left out of buy piles due to limited funds. It gets expensive to collect every Avenger title.
- Could something that affects the Marvel Universe as a whole actually happen in this Avengers title? Probably not.
Gage uses his two issue Slott filling story to introduce the Avengers Academy characters to a whole new group of Marvel readers. Hank Pym is looking for a substitute teacher to help out at the Avengers Academy. After being turned down by the Thing, Pym's first choice, Pym settles for Spider-Man who is currently getting the teaching bug. Pym gives Spider-Man a backhanded compliment by saying he is a good fit because he's "made virtually every mistake a young hero possibly could." If I was Spidey I'd reply with, "Yeah, I was messing-up left and right...creating the most powerful villain in the universe, punching my own wife in the face, wearing a goofy yellow suit with weird shoulder pads...what was I thinking?"
After the brief substitute grab, Gage has Hank Pym explain the dynamics of the teens at the Academy and what makes them "at-risk" youth...as Pym also mentions. Gage gives readers a quick page-long 6 panel (one for each teen) breakdown of who the teens are and what their abilities entail. It's the perfect page to familiarize readers with the semi-obscure characters.
Webheads are sure to enjoy the 3 page section of Spidey awkwardly in front of the class of young heroes. Gage writes a scene that is just below the humor level of the Bendis Spider-Woman and Spider-Man dialog scene in New Avengers #61 (Vol. 1), which I have posted at the bottom of this post. In The Amazing Spider-Man #661 Spidey tries giving the teens situations he thinks teen heroes would have to deal with, but the teens keep shooting his scenarios down until he is at a loss for words. Spidey finally gives-up with the situational questions and takes the teens on patrol.
The rest of the adventure turns into an example of youth getting ahead of themselves and thinking they know everything there is to know. Spidey becomes the cool uncle they walk all over and don't listen to until they need his help...it's kind of like the older daughter in Uncle Buck...or maybe I just saw Uncle Buck on TV the other day and think everything relates to Uncle Buck. Either way...good movie and good first story by Gage.
Now the art, on the other hand, was not as well done as the story. It was not bad; however, it seemed inconsistent. I felt like the first 8 pages were good and the rest of the first story in The Amazing Spider-Man #661 was rushed. It may have been something to do with the transitioning into the red and blue Spidey suit or it may have been the character designs of the students, but something felt off as I got further into the first story. Not off enough to hate it, but off enough to mention. Off like Lebron James on an off day...still better than league average numbers, but not a 25/8/8 performance (sorry for that last part you non-sport nerds).
With the above said about the first story's art, the art on the 10 page story by Paul Benjamin and Javier Pulido was phenomenal. It had an old time style with a hint of Marcos Martin charm. The large middle panel with the Sandman is beautiful and could have been a wonderful variant cover. I'd buy that marked-up issue!
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Review by: Dom G