Or – “You Bet Jurassic!”
Norman Osborn’s run at the top was brief, but you have to admire what all he accomplished in a few months. Nearly destroying the ancient Asgardians, blowing up half the Eastern Seaboard, going up and down the crazy charts like a whore’s drawers and torturing a bunch of rotten teenagers, all presumably before breakfast. As the instructors at Avengers Academy try to turn his one-time charges into respectable soopaheroes, the growing worry is that somehow, Norm-O has even managed to transfer his Wacky In The Wicky Woo to the next generation.
Which would be BAD…
Avengers Academy #6
Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Pencils by MIKE MCKONE
Inks by DAVE MEIKIS/REBECCA BUCHMAN/ANDREW HENNESY/RICK KETCHUM
Colors by JEROMY COX
Letters by JOE CARAMAGNA
Published by MARVEL COMICS
Previously, on Avengers Academy: The kids of Avengers Academy (Finesse, Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil, Striker and Veil, who all sound like lost members of the G.I. Joe team) were chosen by Norman Osborn for their power levels and their psychological profiles. Much like Martin Blank, they show the kind of moral flexibility that might allow them to be successful as assassins, or as a brutal little police force. Luckily, they were freed before they could freak out, join the army and become professional killers, but their transition from experimental subjects into full-fledged heroes has been frought with difficulty. A visit to the federal prison where Norman is being held led to secrets within the team, while Finesse has been blackmailing Quicksilver into telling her the secrets of his father, Mag-freaking-neto. This month, we focus on Reptil, and wonder what sort of horrible monstrosities lurk in his psyche…
And, of course, Christos Gage surprises me again. The opening moments of this issue are a perfectly normal and well-adjusted child interacting with his normal, loving parents, a child who has a dream: To grow up and be an Avenger. Reptil has managed to make his way into the Avengers, and is even being voted team leader of the Avenger Academy, but he is the only one aware of the various conspiracie within the team. Hazmat and Mettle want to take action against Norm-O, Finesse is manipulating Quicksilver AND Reptil (the first with her mind, the second with… other stuff) and Striker is clearly interested in little more than publicity. Moreover, he is finding that his dinosaur-morphing powers are acting up, as the strange amulet that powers him has been absorbed into his body. Interestingly, when Hank Pym tries to figure out what’s up with the amulet, Reptil is overcome with ancient imagery, including an appearance by Devil Dinosaur and the mighty Moon Boy! Why? No one is entirely sure.
Reptil leads his team into action, making all the right moves and decisions, and is even able to fully morph into a velociraptor for the first time to fight the villainy of Mentallo. Of course, once morphed, his reptile brain leads him to maul the villain halfway to death with his fangs, and cementing his place in the Academy as another seriously addled teen. Pym belives that Reptil is repressing his emotions over the loss of his parents and the recent traumas in his life, and calls in a specialist. Of course, Doc Samson has been disintegrated, and Moonstone is a total jerkass, so Reptil gets to talk to… Jessica Jones-Cage. In a beautifully written scene, Jess explains her past with regard to the Purple Man, and gets the kid to open up to her and talk about his feelings and his fears, a sequence that is only marred by Mrs. Cage being less obscene and more well-spoken than she usually seems under Bendis’ pen. (I’m going to chalk it up to dealing with a kid, though.) As the issue ends, though, we find that Reptil is still keeping his teammates secrets, making it clear that his turmoil ain’t gonna end any time soon.
Gage really has it going on in this book, with lovely characters bits featuring Speedball (still traumatized), Tigra (still awesome) and Yellowjacket/Wasp (still creepy as hell, especially when he tells Hawkeye, “I see why Jan left me for you.” Heh…) as well as some intrigue within the team. Reptil’s attempt to tell Hazmat and Mettle that they’re perfect for each other is hysterical (she is disgusted, and Mettle just walks away with a baleful “Duuude.) Mike McKone’s visuals are note-perfect throughout the issue, giving us the slick feel of a Byrne or Perez with a slight tinge of off-kilter menace in even the characters who are supposed to be fully heroic. I find the concept pretty fascinating, even as I wonder who picked the five most f’ed up Avengers to play den-mother, and this issue proves once again why Avengers Academy is the best Avengers title on the stands right now. Avengers Academy #6 continues their streak with another solid tale, fine art and story, and even a little dinosaur mayhem for Rodrigo, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by this title every month…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: What possible in-universe explanation could there be for letting the crew of Justice, Quicksilver, Speedball, Tigra and Wasp run the Academy unsupervised? (The Joe Bob totals for this team include 600 dead innocents, one manslaughter, a beaten wife and uncounted terrorist acts, after all.)