Or – “Skrullian Flashback Theatre Is Now Over…”


Now we get to watch the heroes talk for 30 pages about things that already happened …

Av2.jpgPreviously, on Mighty Avengers:  The Skrullish invasion of the Earth has ended, and the green-skinned, furrow-chinned conquerors have failed in their bid to control the planet.  Unfortunately, though, the twin evils of fate and dramatic irony made the heroes’ victory a hollow one, as founding Avenger Janet Van Dyne, aka the Wasp, was killed during the climactic battle.  The man who actually scored the kill on the Skrull empress, Norman Osborn, has been giving Anthony Stark’s job as lynchpin of superhuman security, Tony is out on his iron ear, and Henry “Yellowjacket” Pym (among other heroes) has returned home to find that they were not only NOT missed, but that things have spiralled so far out of control as to make the world barely recognizable.  Secret Invasion itself didn’t really deal with the repercussions of the events in the main title, here’s where we get to see how the chips have fallen…

We open with a flashback, and I suddenly wonder why Lee Weeks doens’t have a steady gig on a top-tier title right now, as we see an exquisitely drawn sequence with Hank and Jan, not long after the Avengers discovered the frozen body of Captain America.  They talk about how awesome is it that Cap is back among them, and Hank remarks how weird it must be to lose years of your life like that.  (Hey, look!  Irony!)  She takes a moment to thank him for bringing her into the life of excitement, and Hank tells her that he loves her…  Awwww.  She responds, “if you get frozen in a block of ice, I’ll wait for you.”  AWWW!!!  Cut forward to “NOW,” (which is a caption that I hate, and one that Bendis overuses) as Hank Pym tries to hold himself together while preparing for Janet’s funeral.  Carol Danvers pretty much handles everything for him, and Hank slips out the door, only to find reporters camping out on the steps.  Carol turns on the ‘ultra-bitch’ and they twosome get into their waiting car.  “I want you to tell me what happened,” says Hank, “since I was… switched out.”

A series of single page splashes follows, one for House of M, (pronounced “House of MUH”) one that breaks down Civil War into one panel, (and, oddly, gives the issues more serious consideration than the actual 7 issue series did) one that shows a dead Steve Rogers on the courthouse steps, and one that recounts the events of Planet Hulk.  She ends by telling him of the events that led up to the Secret Invasion, and tells how his face was used by the Skrulls as the vanguard of their invasion, and both of them collapse into tears.  Hank remembers moments with Janet, and dissolves into hysterics, leaning into Carol’s shoulder, completely gone.  An unexplained amount of time later, the actual funeral takes place, with a church official talking and talking and TALKING about Janet before asking if anyone has anything they want to share.  No one speaks, no one moves, and after long seconds, Hank Pym rises.  “Oh, no,” says Carol, but it’s too late to stop him.  Yellowjacket takes the center stage, and stands in silence for a long time.  “I keep asking myself, what would Janet think of all this.  I think she would ask…  How could you DO this?”  A chill falls over the room, and Hank begins shouting at Tony Stark in the audience.  “HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?  WHO’S NEXT, TONY?”  Thankfully, before he can make it any more painful, Thor stops him, and speaks of Janet’s courage, her warrior spirit, her life.  “The gates of Valhalla are richer today,” he says, and flies Hank away.  “Come, doctor.  Ww shall mourn together in private.”  Outside, the Avengers are stunned to seen Stormin’ Norman Osborn pressing the flesh and Hawkeye confronts him.  “Hey, there.  Aren’t you the Green Goblin?”  HA!  Norman coldly warns him to register, and Hawkeye flips him the bird.  We end with Norman overlooking the city from his new digs at Avengers Tower, and a tease for Dark Avengers #1.

The main problem I have with this issue is the fact that, once again, the death of Janet is treated as an abstraction, shown only as a tool to get Herr Gruppenfuhrer Stark the serious verbal beatdown that he so richly deserves for the last two years of continuity.  There are some moments that show a loving husband missing his lost wife, but mostly Jan is treated as a plot device to get the heroes to the gates of Dark Reign.  The multiple artists trick actually works to the advantage of the story, as Weeks handles the flashbacks with warmth, whereas the sequence with the funeral proceedings was strange and alienating.  Mighty Avengers #20 earns 2.5 out of 5 stars, as once again more effort seems to be put into setting up the new status quo than cleaning up the threads left over from the plots that got us there.


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Matt Smith is 11th Doctor

Next post

Review: Blue Beetle #34


  1. January 3, 2009 at 10:53 pm — Reply

    I’m surprised you didn’t take a moment to praise Jim Cheung’s splash art but I suppose can blame the conventional wisdom that scratchy art like Weeks with less stylizing is somehow better than the stylized classic look that Cheung is a master. Yes, Weeks did some great work here and to alesser degree so did the other guy (who I only just noticed was involved by rereading the Previously… page. I just thought Weeks had had a muscle cramp or something while drawing) but the only part of the issue that brough tears to my eyes was Cheung’s splash pages. Cheung’s progression of Carol and Hank’s faces as she told him what he had missed was more moving to me than any othe rart in the book.

    Another point I liked was the way Carol treated Hank. Yes, she’s never been portrayed by anybody as liking Hank much and she has been depicted as annoyed by Jan more often than not but she put that aside to be there for an old comrade who was hurting. As well written as the Ms Marvel ongoing is, this human and empathetic Carol is one I prefer to the frosty warrior babe the other Brian scripts her as.

  2. January 4, 2009 at 10:26 am — Reply

    Mmm… I actually found Cheung’s work in this issue felt kind of rushed. I love Cheung’s art from Young Avengers, but here it didn’t seem to communicate the usual depth for me. Still, I can definitely see your point, and I do agree that the facial expressions are quite good.

  3. January 5, 2009 at 10:37 am — Reply

    For my money, Lee Weeks is one of the best in the business. His recent Amazing Spider-Man issue was top notch. Yes, it’s a “classic” style, but he does it extremely well. And his work looks even better when it’s inked by the incredibly talented Stefano Gaudiano.

  4. crood
    January 5, 2009 at 3:19 pm — Reply

    Isn’t Stark Tower privately owned?

  5. Brad
    January 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm — Reply

    Not anymore it’s not

  6. January 8, 2009 at 4:50 am — Reply

    It said in one of the SI follow ups that Stark turned all Avengers related stuff over to SHIELD so that they’d pay for it…

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section