This week we've got mopey teenage superheroes, the Avengers Academy!
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
This week is the critically acclaimed Avengers Academy, but what do those critics know? Time to see if it gets RG acclaim!
Finally a fun comic book that doesn't suck.
Great character moments, great art, great book.
This title is imo, the best non cosmic Marvel book there is right now, but you'd be hard pressed to see why with this issue.
Gage has been a breath of fresh air at Marvel for me, he has great characterization, understands that continuity is not a curse and actually writes stuff that takes more than 5 minutes to read. He's done some great work making me care about the characters in this series. But everything here was just so, so... unGage like.
As for the story, there's a dance and the Academy invites some other teen guests. That I've never heard of most of the visitors is okay, but nothing in this book makes me want to discover who any of the are.
Of course with any gathering of teens there's going to be drama...
Reptil still dealing with his 'older' self in what I thought was a potentially great storyline. Sadly, Gage must not have thought so as he abruptly ends it with a bat of a pretty girl's eyelash.
Mettle & Hazmat - what started last issue continues to blossom in this one, but (like the other review mentioned) in the most silly sit-com way possible.
Striker & Veil - Is it romance, don't know, hope not because Striker's a dick that I have feigning interest
Finesse - Gag me! All the potential she had in the first few issues has been squandered lately. She's the most unlikeable character I can think of right now.
Justice & Firestar - I'm old school, so of course I prefer them as a couple, but barring that, once we get past the generic "Sleeping with" over-reaction, their talk is probably the highlight of the issue.
Hank & Tigra. Love Hank and glad to see him moving on. Tigra though? In just 5 pages she goes from 'don't even think about kissing me' to 'meet me in my room in 5'. I mean, she's always been easy, but c'mon Gage - make Hank work for it at least. And does she actually think no one is going to suspect anything when the only two adults in the room leave? She must have forgotten her sermon on chaperoning from page 1.
Speedball - NO drama for him at all here. He actually just seemed happy. BOUT FUCKING TIME! So glad to see that Penance shit is over with and we have the real Robbie back!
Anyway, by the end of the issue all the kids are having fun. There's nothing wrong with this. I should add that Marvel books these last 5+ years have had an enormous lack of 'fun', so any scene like this is welcome. But did they have to do it with a scene lifted straight from the 'Brady Bunch too much soap in the washing machine' bit?
The art is okay, not the best I've seen Chen do. I was never convinced his 30 year old Reptil was anything more than a 16 year old Reptil (just with a fuzzy chin). His action scenes were iffy too. I was puzzled how Firestar was able to throw Justice for instance.
All in all, this is still one of the better books on the shelf. I'm confident this is just a one-off misfire.
Story - 6
Art - 5
Overall - 5.5
John Lewis Hawk
It was decent. However, it was not mailed to my home like my telepathic messages requested. Therefore, it sucked.
I love this book, I love this book a lot. I love the cast of the book and the characterizations of all the stars in the book. I enjoy seeing Speedball finally getting back to himself and teen heroes acting like actual teenagers.
The nod to a few stories from Initiative is an extremely good touch and seeing Hank dealing with what the skrull version of him did is extremely well done. it's nice seeing all the relationships and all the baggage they have to deal with handled extremely well.
All in all I happily give the book a 9, fun comics are awesome.
When I bought the first issue of this book I was not thrilled at all but I'm so glad I stuck it out. This is one of Marvel's best series out and THE best Avengers book in their Pantheon at the moment. That being said, this issue on its own gives another outstanding job of developing these characters into real individuals while maintaining some fun paced stories. The fact that Pym is getting it on again with Tigra was perfect and Firestar and Justice's moment was hilarious. This was the right change of pace in the ongoing struggle of these young, possible future Avengers.
If there was one Marvel book that I would refuse to give up right now, this would be it.
My Score: 9.60
A fine comic. Doesn't try and reinvent the wheel but it takes some new characters and makes them interesting enough to be potentially welcome additions to the MU with a twist on the usual young heroes angle. There's a lot here for fans of The Initiative to enjoy too, and for a breather issue between what I gather are two big stories for the title this managed to pack in quite a lot of plot for in 22 pages.
The art is pedestrian and the colours a little garish at times but after the terrible comics the group has read recently this was a breath of fresh air. Anyone with a soft spot for old fashioned superhero shenanigans could do a lot worse than this comic.
Hey Sean Chen, Gravity wears pants!
I haven't read any of Avengers Academy before today so a prom issue interlude probably wasn't the best place to start. I'm sure I'll read this series in trade at some point because I tend to read everything Avengers related eventually, but this was so bland! The stuff with the characters I know was okay, but that's it, just okay. The stuff with the actual new Avengers Academy characters has no impact for me, from these little snippets they seem like nothing more than the same teen superhero character templates we've seen a thousand times.
People standing around and talking does not play to Sean Chen's strengths as an artist. 90% of this comic is people standing around and talking. Also, I'm sure Marvel would have provided him with reference material for how to draw Gravity's costume if he just would have asked.
hmmmm, I agree with Mr. Snow's review but I feel compelled to score the book higher because reading this issue makes me want to read more of this series which means I'm hotting the interwebs to read some more but for right now I'll give this one a 6.7
A prom with young super heroes isn't something I've ever read before and I enjoyed what I read. Most of the interpersonal stuff was fun to read, but I think I enjoyed the interaction between Hazmat and Mettle the most. It came across as two lonely people finding each other which has always been something I've enjoyed. The only part that came across as a character being off was Firestar throwing Justice into the table.
Overall I'd say it was good, but not fantastic, definitely above average. Let's give it a 6 out of 10.
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'
This was probably the weakest issue to date, although it wasn't terrible. It was supposed to be fun and silly and we mainly got that. The characterization was alright, although it made me laugh how easy Tigra is (note to self, use Skrulls as a pickup line when needed). I feel that if Tigra was really so easily swayed by the Scientist Supreme's pickup lines, they'd probably be screwing in a bathroom stall instead of taking it to her bedroom.
All in all, the comic loses points for loose cat women and silly drama, but gains points for Gravity making an appearance in the book.
This is a difficult book to review. It's not that is poorly written or an uninteresting concept. It is neither of these things. However, it is nigh impenetrable. It's not that it is difficult to figure out what is going on in this issue, it isn't. The problem is that the cast is too large and too much of this issue is dealing with relationships in midstream, resolution of a recent storyline and an intimate knowledge of past Avengers history. One or two of these things at a time is okay, but three of them coupled with not knowing who any of the kids (who I assume are the main characters of the book) are and it is not a pleasant read for someone who hasn't read it in well something like ten issues.
That being said, Gage does a tremendous job juggling all those things that work against the book and alluding to where one might go to find out more (i.e. previous issues or back issues of West Coast Avengers). When you throw in the fact that each of the twelve gazillion characters making an appearance in the book seem to have a consistent and individual voice, you realize that this is an expertly written comic. However, given that I was not a huge fan of the last volume of this book and by the fact that I have not read this volume in 11 or so issues, it is obvious that I am not one hundred percent onboard with this concept (I think it is a neat idea, I just don't want to read it), so as a critic it becomes an odd thing to talk about. I don't like, don't know enough about it, but can recognize the craft involved in its construction and the extent to which the writer has gone to make comprehension somewhat attainable for a reader who decides a prom for a bunch of teen superheroes is interesting.
Sean Chen is awesome. He is a perfect comic book artist. He can handle the group dynamic well and draws great action scenes. There are some minor things I could quibble about, the absent of pupils in characters' eyes here and there, but it is the height of nitpicking and there is no reason to do that.
(Also, Katy Perry, really? Yuck.)
Story – 3
Art – 4
Overall – 7
It's an admirable book I wish I cared more about.
I tried really hard to sum up the words for a review on this book but I can't go at my usual length.
The story felt like what it was: an intermission book filled with random character moments, some cool others meh that felt like a step down from the last 12 issues of this book. It was OK but nothing really special to get at me.
Art was pretty but the story was kinda bland. Maybe I'm burned out on prom stories from the movies and TV but it never did anything to me in real life or on TV. The closest I've come to liking one of these stories is the High School Reunion in Grosse Point Blank.
I love Christos Gage's writing and he's written a ton of stuff I'm a fan of, but this issue simply wasn't it.
I was looking forward to this book, I liked what little I'd read of this series before, and I loved Gage's end run on the Initiative.
But this was so average and forgettable, I know the books better than this.
6 out of 10. Disappointing.
This all gives us a score of 6.42 out of 10. To read the full thread, and a massive argument about the phrase 'various and sundry', click this link. Next week we've got more teen heroes, in Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #1.
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt