After Avengers Academy is shut down due to the events of AvX, the Avengers-in-Training find themselves lured to the arms of Jeremy Briggs, who promises safe harbor for the heroes and a cure for those students who no longer want their powers. Such promises rarely come without a cost, as we are reminded in this issue. Hit the jump for more!
Previously in Avengers Academy: Last issue saw the closing of Avengers Academy by Hank Pym, who feared for his students’ safety due to the escalating dangers of the AvX conflict. Billionaire industrialist Jeremy Briggs, who is also able to alter molecules, invited the team to join his foundation. The Briggs Foundation is touted to be devoted to ending the conflict between heroes and villains, and Briggs reveals his answer for peace is to remove all superpowers by way of aerosolized nanobots. Two students who are truly cursed by the powers, Mettle and Hazmat, gladly have their powers removed, but the rest of the gang find themselves attacked by Briggs’ enforcers, The Young Masters of Evil, after refusing to join his cause.
THE FINAL EXAM CONTINUES
There is a lot going on in issue #35 of Avengers Academy. The book has always been strong due to Gage being able to juggle so many characters, and he certainly keeps that balance in this issue. Our villain of the piece, Jeremy Briggs, is new to the Marvel scene, having only been introduced in previous issues of Avengers Academy, but his idea of “cleansing” the world of super-powers is an interesting one. Smartly, Gage recognizes that the Iron Mans and Hawkeyes of the world would still be functional despite his “cure,” and lays out his contingency plan for them in this issue. Hazmat and Mettle are finally able to pursue some semblance of a normal relationship after shedding their powers, while the rest of the team struggle to take down a super-villain with no abilities to support them. While following the action, we get some great character beats from each hero, from X-23’s fascination with her impending death to the insecurities plaguing the new White Tiger and team leader Reptil.
The book never loses its sense of urgency, moving the plot along at an incredibly fast pace to the point where it almost feels a bit rushed. Hazmat and Mettle, in particular, don’t have very long to enjoy their newfound freedom from their powers before being thrust back into the conflict. With the status of Avengers Academy and its cast in question due to the Marvel NOW! initiative, it is disconcerting to think we may be seeing the last adventures of these characters. However, this fact adds to the gravitas of the situation…The changes these characters endure during this story arc could very well be permanent, and perhaps more so than any other book Marvel is publishing right now, the threats of death or depowering are very, very real.
SOLID ART BEFITTING OF AN AVENGERS TITLE
Di Vito does a great job with this book, which seems to be an equal mix of dialogue and action scenes. The character designs in Avengers Academy have always been striking…there’s a great mix of ethnic diversity as well as costume choice…and Di Vito does a fine job of making each character stand out without being too distracting. When a couple of the heroes finally release the extent of their powers to the back of the book, the reader can see the extent of the danger these powers produce. While there are no truly memorable “wow” moments in the artwork, Di Vito is a storyteller and provides art that enhances Gage’s script. Really, that’s all a reader can ask for.
BOTTOM LINE: CHECK OUT THIS BOOK
Christos Gage has done an excellent job of bringing some real humanity to the cast of Avengers Academy throughout its run, arguably better than any other Avengers book on the stands. It is easy to feel sympathetic for heroes who are struggling to prove their worth and find their spot in the world, or conversely for characters who never wanted the responsibility (or the curse) that super-powers may bring. While Jeremy Briggs stands a snowball’s chance at depowering the Marvel U., the heroes of this book do not share the same safety and comfort. Avengers Academy is picking up a head of steam as it rushes to the conclusion of this arc, and it truly feels as though lasting change will be the end result.