REVIEW: Avengers #25

by

Or – “Prepare Yourself, For There Are No More Non-AVX Marvel Books…”

The first shot has been fired, and the war over the Phoenix Force has begun.  Given his history with the Avengers, one might think Captain America might be more sympathetic, but there is always more to the story…

AVENGERS #25
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Walter Simonson
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Avengers:  The arrival on Earth of the Phoenix Force has led to utter chaos, as the heroes of the Avengers want to find and contain an interstellar murderer (Remember the poor Asparagus people?) while Cyclops believes the energies to be the only hope for the survival of the mutant sub-race.  Both groups have made bad moves, with Cyclops seemingly channeling En Sabah Nur’s ‘survival of the fittest’ mentalies and Captain America embodying every cliche about jackbooted police states and the new world order.  Tensions in the Marvel Universe have been high since about 2001, and things aren’t getting any nicer, as two unregulated superhuman armies clash off the coast of California…

WE SHALL FIGHT THEM ON THE BEACHES!

The issue opens with a visual treat, a two-page spread of the Avengers and X-Men engaging each other in battle, with great splash moments for most of the bigger heroes of the Marvel U, but it immediately segues into a flashback for Captain America.  Regular readers of this book know that they have been building a big storyline involving The Avengers losing the trust of the public, with AIM, Hydra, Norman Osborn and others combining into an unstoppable force of evil (which was wiped out in one issue with a pretty lack-luster fighty-fighty.)  Our story quickly turns into a mish-mash, with the return of Thor, another hint of the Hawkeye/Spider-Woman relationship (which has consisted entirely of people asking if they’re in one, I might add) and a nice character turn by Noh-Varr, the erstwhile Protector.  The visual aspects of the issue are pretty phenomenal, though, as Simonson delivers an Avengers attack on a hidden AIM base, a battle sequence as cursory and one-sided as the one against Super-Adapt-Osborn a couple of issues ago…

BUT FIRST, WE HAVE TO WRAP UP OUR LAST STORYLINE.

I sincerely hope that Bendis and company wanted this issue to throw doubt on the arguments of whether or not the Avengers are a scary government strike team with no oversight, because that is exactly what it manages to do.  With Thor and Storm in tow, their invasion of Monica Rappaccini’s AIM base, combined with her rhetoric about being “persecuted and at war” for their quasi-religious science wackiness, casts our heroes as brightly-colored storm troopers who pat each other on the back for their efficient use of excessive force against the bad guys.  The story ends with an interesting bit of news about one of our characters, making me wonder if there’s a traitor in the Avengers ranks (or at least a hero who won’t toe Cap’s line in regards to the Phoenix Force and what to do with it.)  The story is carried by Cap, with supporting roles for Thor and Protector, and the rest of the Avengers pretty much cameoing in a story that provides some interesting background for the upcoming AvX battle.

THE VERDICT: NOT WHAT WAS ADVERTISED…

The problem I have is that the issue was identified as an important AvX tie-in, with ramifications about Captain America’s declaration of war, and we got literally a quick page and an issue-long flashback.  As wonderful as it is to see Simonson’s work in a full-length title (Thor was particularly well-served this issue), I have an unpleasant suspicion that we’re in for the same thing we got during Secret Invasion: stories that are pretty much inessential background fodder for the big crossover book that I’m not entirely sure I want to read.  This issue’s attempt to deal with outstanding storylines feels inconsequential, and the use of the Avengers Vs. X-Men material feels forced and mercenary, leaving both parts of the story ill-served.  Avengers #25 is neither fish nor fowl, and while it’s a good looking book, it really doesn’t have anything much to say, earning 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I hope this isn’t a harbinger of how AvX is gonna go…

Rating: ★½☆☆☆