REVIEW: Avengers #32

by

Or – “Is Everything Really As It Seems?”

One (somewhat valid) criticism of the Avengers franchise under Brian Bendis has been that the characters never follow up on anything.

Nazi agents attack Washington?  Set ‘em up & knock ‘em down!
Aliens infiltrating your ranks?  Set ‘em up & knock ‘em down!
One of your founding members blowed up?  Set ‘em up & knock ‘em down!

You’d think that geniuses like these would know that things come back around to bite you if you don’t pay attention.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

AVENGERS #32
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist(s): Mike Mayhew & Brandon Peterson
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Avengers:  The war with the X-Men is finally finished, and the founding members of the Avengers have a moment of downtime to figure out the consequences of their…  Heh.  I couldn’t finish that one with a straight face.

Naaah, it’s all “NEXT BIG THING!” time.

THE TITANIC ARROGANCE OF ANTHONY EDWARD STARK.

This issue opens with Henry “Giant-Man” Pym and Tony “Iron Man” Stark on the Avengers priority comm channel, discussing a mysterious distress signal that has popped up on their frequency.  There is some confusing discussion between the heroes wherein it is revealed that Avengers priority signals have their own frequency, but this one is “an old-school” frequency that came before the unique identifiers.  Stark indicates that is has been years since he updated the system (pay attention, this will be important later) but that the LOCATION of this message is more important: Central Park, site of the climactic battle of the ‘Secret Invasion,’ during which Giant-Man’s on-again/off-again wife The Wasp perished in mortal combat.  Maybe…  The Avengers arrive on the scene in full force (Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, Red Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, Giant-Man and The Vision) but are immediately told by their Iron Man that the mission is too dangerous, and that only he, Thor and Captain America are going.  This one sequence both annoys me and makes NO sense within the framework of the story, as the mission is described as super-dangerous, something that you might want to have a Hulk and a rabid berzerker Canadian in on.  Giant-Man argues the point that he’s not staying behind, and suddenly things become clearer:  It’s the founding Avengers going after their missing member.  Normally, I’d avoid a spoiler like that, but given the structure of the second half of the comic book, there’s no way to work around it:  The boys are going after The Wasp.

THE PRODIGAL RETURNS!

As much as I appreciate what the creators were going for with the symbolism of that team, Iron Man’s decree seems ridiculous arrogant and bull-headed, especially when they all shrink down and arrive in the microverse to find that their technology isn’t working, and that humans are affected badly by the size-changing/dimension-shifting transit.  Since their team is a normal human, a normal human with technology, a normal human who can mass-shift, and Thor, this makes things a little awkward.  From an art perspective, it’s a very strong issue, with Mike Mayhew really having a ball with the battle sequences, the scenes of a mysterious masked woman fighting against alien occupying forces, and especially the moment where the Avengers discover the source of their signal.  Janet literally jumps for joy, giving each of her teammates a kiss and celebrating that her plan worked, moments before an alien craft begins blasting at them.  The last panel is stunning, as the villain of the Microverse reveals himself, and his centaur form seems a little bit familiar to this Bill Mantlo fan.  Things may not be just what they seem, though, as Janet’s explanations of what really happened during the Secret Invasion are interrupted before she can outright explain that she didn’t ever die…

THE BOTTOM LINE: UNDERMINING CONSEQUENCES IN A PLEASANT, BREEZY MANNER…

As happy as I am to see The Wasp back from her not-very-convincing death, I still have a handful of problems with this particular issue.  There is no reason for the other Avengers to appear for the page-and-a-half that they do (other than getting airtime for Spider-Man, Wolverine and the guys, as well as throwing in a New York topical joke).  As much as part of me like seeing Janet back, her full-mouthed kisses for the soldier, the god, her ex-husband and her ex-boyfriend are hard to buy, especially given that she seems to be frenching the hell out of Captain America.  There are some issue with time that aren’t quite explained (as in, why is The Wasp’s communicator working on the old frequency if they were upgraded years ago?), an inexplicable Wonder Man scene in the middle of the book that doesn’t really work, and the question of why no one thought to check if Janet shrank her way out of danger during the battle is still weighing heavily on my mind.  Still, I’m mostly pleased with this story, as it returns the one founding Avenger with style and a normal sense of humor to the fold, and looks pretty good overall.  Avengers #32 sticks the landing, even as it undoes another of Bendis’ big changes to the Avengers status quo in preparation for a new creative team in this sandbox, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It would be easy to rail about another resurrection story, but given that the death scene in question was so ambiguous, I can’t find the energy to get too worked up about it…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!

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