It’s a vampire war, and the King of Vampires who might stop it all is nowhere to be found! Your Major Spoilers review of Avengers #14 awaits!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponnsor & Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Previously in Avengers: As vampire civil war throws the world into chaos, the mysterious Shadow Colonel and his squad of undead revolutionaries have one burning question on their murderous minds: Where is Dracula? And if the Avengers find him first, will the lord of the damned be friend or foe?
WHO YA GONNA CALL? BLADE!
We open with a castle in flames, which is always a great way to start a story. Castle Dracul is under attack by the Legion of the Unliving, a group of renegade vampires who have doused it napalm, infiltrated with sun-grenades to burn the inhabitants and even heavy machine guns firing 2,000 stakes per minute. It’s all very modern, very military and more than a little bit terrifying. The invaders, led by The Shadow Colonel (who has apparently trapped the Man-Thing, which should be even scarier) do not find Dracula, as our Mr. Tepes has simply disappeared. Around the world, The Avengers fight, with Hulk and Ghost Rider in the subterranean monster city under New York, Captain Marvel and new Avenger Blade trying to save a plane hijacked by vampires, and Captain America standing by himself with only his shield… and a massive silver cross. They fight off the immediate threats and return to Avengers mountain, only to have Shadow Colonel arrive and turn himself in. An interrogation goes badly, as anyone who let Blade handle it probably knew that it should have, and the Avengers are infiltrated by the Legion of the Unliving. Thousands of miles away, Vlad Dracula arrives at the Russian border to meet the Winter Guard… and beg for political asylum!
I HATE THE TERM “FANGERS”
Jason Aaron has a very modern feel to his dialogue and his plotting, which makes for some entertaining moments in Transylvania, where the natives, both vampire and human, sound refreshingly like your average 21st century folk. Even better, every line from Shadow Colonel is intimidating and confident, even when he is in chains in the Avengers’ brig, making him a formidable foe, even if he refers to vampires as “fangers.” Best of all, though, is the use of internal monologues (and even one old-school though balloon!) to convey the Avengers’ responses to the chaos. In one scene, Iron Man and Black Panther face down hordes of vampires with solar weaponry while Iron Man reminds himself that they’re not human, that they can’t be human in order to keep firing, while the Panther thinks that each of their attackers was a person and each death is a failure for him as hero and king. The complexity of the plotting and the depth of character developing for all the characters is really engaging. Marquez does an equally good job on the art, whether it’s ancient European architecture overwhelmed by hordes of monsters or Ghost Rider’s 70’s Dodge. Every page looks amazing, and the amount of energy and emotion in the characters draws the reader in to every moment, especially the pleas of a frail, elderly Dracula who may or may not be playing possum.
BOTTOM LINE: EXCITING, WITH A SURPRISE ENDING
Of all the things I thought might happen to end this issue, the final page never occurred to me, but fits perfectly within the story being told. It’s hard to anchor the Avengers in a horror/myth story, but Aaron and Marquez pull it off, seemingly effortlessly, making it easy to believe a world where vampires, possessed flame-cars, advanced technological armors and a civilization like Wakanda all exist simultaneously. Avengers #14 (which is legacy number #704, apparently) takes a lot of different Marvel Universe concepts and puts them together in new ways, using each concept to advance a cool story with lots of character and personality, as well as great art, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes (and if Blade sticks around as an Avenger.)
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Aaron manages to capture the tone of the MCU characters without shorting the much more complicated history of the comic Marvel Universe, giving us a lot of character and depth in a whiz-bang adventure yarn (with a pretty shocking final page.)