Or – “The Triumphant Return of Avengers Double Feature!”
You don’t know how hard it was to not fill that word balloon with “I’m A Great Big Red Herring!”
Previously, on Mighty Avengers:Â Ms. Marvel was a fat piece of furniture which Doom needed only for trade.Â Indeed, he instructed her quite clearly to shut her endlessly flapping cow-mouth or he would be forced to remove her face with his bare hands before stopping her whore’s heart.Â Many people are upset by this, but I can’t figure out if it’s because Doom called Frank-Cho-drawn-pnematic hottie Ms. Marvel fat, thereby perpetuating myths of body image to torture the young ladies in the audience, or because Victor Von Doom, he of the icy stare and almost supernatural calm would lose his cool and shoot off at the mouth like a kid from Jersey playin’ the dozens, only mere semantic steps away from saying “Your momma’s so dumb, she think Shirley Temple is the synagogue on 45th street!”Â Either way, doesn’t ‘Whore’s Heart’ sound like an ingredient in witch’s brew?Â Eye of newt, tongue of frog, heart of whore?Â It’s all moot, really, as Doom isn’t in this issue.Â Nor is Ms. Marvel, nor any of the usual gang of idiots.Â No Sentry, no Wonder Man, only the barest hint of Ares, no…Â who’s the other guy who’s just strong?Â I know there is one.Â After all, this team consists completely of strongmen and women in black leather, which gives us a rather disturbing glance into the psyche of one Anthony Edward Stark…Â Bygones.Â There are no Avengers in this issue of Avengers.
Instead, our story starts with Daisy Johnson, a key player in ‘Secret War’ all those years ago, a former SHIELD agent whose career ended the day that Nick Fury went underground.Â She sits on a park bench, talking to a stranger who “reminds her of someone.”Â She tells her sad tale, normal kid, suddenly becomes a powered person, recruited to SHIELD, used in an illegal underground black op, now eighteen and in mandatory retirement.Â “So, are you mad at him?” asks the stranger, and Daisy just smiles and replies, “Depends what he says next…”Â The man, who looks just like Samuel L. Jackson with an eyepatch (heh) explains to her that big things are in motion, that you can’t trust the heroes and that he (and only he) knows of the location of a group of “caterpillars,” kids like Daisy with powers that they can recruit, train and trust.Â “That is the WORST disguise ever, Nick,” she tells him, and they set off on their mission.Â
First, at a brownstone in the Bronx,Â we findÂ a kid who looks to be all of 8 years old, being berated by his father.Â The man browbeats him, telling him that he WILL obey, he will come straight home from school, he will respect him as a father.Â “Like you respect YOUR father?” asks the child, and the strangely familiar mohawked man goes quiet and stalks away.Â A group of local kids come up to bully him, and the boy just squints his eyes like Bill Mumy, watching the bullies run away in abject terror.Â Daisy Johnson walks up and asks him what that’s like, and the boy claims he didn’t do it.Â “I did my research…Â Your dad is Ares…Â You know what that makes you?Â Phobos, god of fear…Â The power of a god in the body of a ten year old boy.”Â Suddenly, the story clicks, for us and for Alex/Phobos and Daisy smiles.
In Puerto Rico, we see a young girl’s purse getting snatched, but when she races after the mugger to grab it, she Barry Allen’s her way across the whole island, stopping short, then slingshotted right back to where she was, only to find… Daisy Johnson.Â “Do you know who your dad is?” DJ asks, and the girl rolls her eyes and curses.Â Thanks to her old man (Johnny Horton, the Griffin, and not the singer) she too has powers, and Daisy offers to help her with them.Â The story repeats in Atlanta, as she meets with a convenience store clerk who’s not even supposed to be here today, who has powers because his grandfather was The Phantom Rider (probably Carter Slade, but it’s not made clear) and in mutant town, where a girl called Layla Miller turns her down.Â (“You’d fail with me.Â Without me, you won’t.Â Just how it is…”)Â When Daisy tries to ask her why she’s so sure, Layla just assures her she “knows stuff.”Â In Greenwich Village, we see a young man staring at the ruined home of Stephen Strange, when Daisy enters.Â “You father was a dude named Doctor Druid,” she says, and offers to help him with his powers, because magic can’t.Â At a jail facility in Minnesota, she picks up a man named Jerry Sledge, who really shouldn’t have punched a cop…Â Gathering these characters together, Daisy brings them to Fury, who gives them the real story.Â “Every day, for the rest of your lives, you do as I say.Â If you don’t, you’ll die. It’s not a threat…Â It’s a statistical fact.”Â He tells them that the good news is, their job is now to make the world a better place, and asks, “Any of you know what a SKRULL is?”
The issue stops there, and part of me wants to rage against decompressed storytelling again, but this issue works on it’s own merits.Â The story of where Nick has been is gaining momentum, running concurrently with the events that he predicted, and this issue works, giving us tantalizing hints about new players in the Marvel U.Â Daisy Johnson has never worked for me before, but all of a sudden, as Nick’s courier and majordomo, she has a unique and necessary place in the world, and the cast of characters interests me, especially with the offspring of Doctor Druid and Phantom Rider in play.Â Still, I could have done without the grandson of the ORIGINAL Ghost Rider having powers evocative of the completely unrelated DANNY KETCH version of Ghost Rider, but that train has sailed.Â Overall, it’s a good issue, not too cramped, not too leisurely, and Bendis’ dialogue really serves the characters well, as the talky-talky might have been annoying in lesser hands.Â The art, by Alex Maleev is awesome, though seeing Layla Miller in her underwear was somewhat disconcerting…Â We’ll see if I still care about Nick’s plan once that Secret Invasion action begins, but right now Mighty Avengers #13 ranks a nicely done 4 out of 5 stars.