REVIEW: Avengers – The Children’s Crusade #8 (of 9)

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Or – “Roger Daltrey Called:  The Kids Are Definitely NOT Alright…”

The first issue of this miniseries came out in 2010, and this penultimate issue is actually dated 2012.  While I like the fact that the bi-monthly status allows the creators to work to their usual standards, I’m bothered by the continuity of how this all breaks down.  After all, this story began before Schism, before Fear Itself, before Spider-Island, before even the end of the Brightest Day, much less the new DCU.  With my notorious tendency to worry about WHEN an issue takes place, I hope that this one is engaging enough to make me forget all that stuff…

AVENGERS: CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #8
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker(s): Mark Morales with Livesay & Cheung
Colorist(s): Justin Ponsor with Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade:  The Young Avengers were born of multiple tragedies, notably the Scarlet Witch’s bout of madness and carnage, referred to colloquially as “Avengers: Disassembled.”  With her return to life, the Scarlet Witch has reversed nearly all that she did during that series, reviving Ant-Man (Hawkeye and Jack Of Hearts were already resurrected elsewhere, ironically) and returning powers to Rictor in preparation for repowering all the world’s mutants.  Before she could do that, though, the Avengers and the X-Men arrived, fighty-fighty ensued, and the Scarlet Witch’s massive reality-altering powers were transferred to another bearer:  One Victor Von Doom.

WHEN DID WANDA GET SO POWERFUL?

One of the largest problems with ‘Avengers: Disassembled’ was the recasting of the Scarlet Witch from harmless spell-caster to reality manipulator of insane power.  Her resurrection in this series has tried to balance the holistic, mostly-good-natured Wanda of the past with the psychotic wackaloon who changed reality to make daddy happy, but the question of her powers persists in this issue.  Doctor Doom channels what he calls “The Life Force”, the implicit source of Wanda’s abilities, and claims it to be more powerful than the Phoenix Force or the Beyonder!  The assembled Young Avengers aren’t sure they believe him, but Doom earns their trust by playing it straight and using his powers only for good.

Naaaah, I’m just jaggin’ you, he teleports them away, and vows to make them love him through sheer force.  This is, after all, still Doctor Doom.  They end up in the middle of the Avengers/X-Men war (not THAT Avengers/X-Men war) and then, they proceed… to monologue.

SHADES OF ‘SECRET WARS…’

The Young Avengers have always been a talky-talky group of teens, but this particular bit just feels very awkward and Dawson’s Creek-ish, as Cyclops and Captain America refuse to budge on their stance that Wanda is a dangerous superhuman threat until Speed starts asking who HASN’T been mind-controlled or evil in their hero careers.  Heinberg is a very careful character writer, and putting the words in the mouth of the team’s loose cannon is clearly designed to imply that only an unrestrained teenager would say it, but the effect is dampening, in two ways.  It makes for a VERY talky series of pages that slow the book to a crawl, and it causes a big sag in my suspension of disbelief as I recall all the bit and pieces of character that have been glued to these characters.  We end with Wiccan, the Young Avengers voice of reason, asking “How do you want to be treated when it happens to YOU?”  Cue Doctor Doom, and the fighty fighty, and no matter how lovely the pages are (and Jim Cheung does a great job, by the way) I can’t help but remember the last time this happened, in the original Secret War.  Wolverine then says the same thing, on panel, and it’s all fighty-fighty, oh-no-he’s-dead until the end of the issue.  There’s even a big swerve as to WHICH Avenger gets killed, but the issue ends on a sour note for me regardless…

THE VERDICT: EVERYBODY TALKS TOO MUCH.

From the complete reversal of what little ‘Avengers: Disassmbled’ did, to Doctor Doom’s utter lack of sense to the ham-fisted teenage debate at the heart of the issue, this book is a beautifully drawn mess.  I was distracted from my chronological questions by bigger issues (like whether Iron Lad and the new Vision are, in fact, the same character, whether time-travel can explain all these characters meeting in their 2010 states, and what in the world this whole Life Force thing is about) but the overall effect was my mind raising its hands and giving up on figuring things out.  Adding to my frustrations was a $3.99 price point without any real reason or increase in content, something that I’ve long grown weary with comic companies (and specifically Marvel editorial) about.

There are rumored to be big plans coming out of Marvel after this series ends, which hopefully means a little more Young Avengers in our future, but the issue ends up not working as either a cohesive story or as a penultimate setup to whatever blowoff we’re going to get next time ’round.  Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #8 spends all the goodwill credit that the first seven issues earned, hits the reader over the head with the writing equivalent of too much eye contact, and leaves me with a disappointed 2 out of 5 stars overall.  At least I’m not worried about there being two active Hawkeyes anymore…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  With DC going out of their way to make sure the New 52 is on time even if the creators aren’t, should comic publishers give up on the “However long it takes to make it is worth the wait” Auteur Theory of comic book creation?