The Squadron Supreme is back! And this time, they’re legitimate… sort of. Your Major Spoilers review of Avengers #18 awaits!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 24, 2019
Previously in Avengers: See the greatest heroes of Washington, D.C., in action as the War of the Realms comes to the nation’s capital. Who needs the Avengers when you’ve got the all-new Squadron Supreme of America
THE WAR OF THE REALMS BEGINS!
We start with Mark Milton, a schoolteacher who is also a man with the power of an Eternal, practically made of steel, as he suddenly gets word of the attacks from Asgard. Kyle Richmond, the Congressional delegate from Washington, responds as well, as does office drone Stanley Stewart, Air Force Colonel Joe Ledger and and a young woman named Zarda Shelton. Together, they are the official protectors of Washington, the Squadron Supreme! It all seems normal, until we see their handling, Agent Phil Coulson, meeting with an unseen person and clearly somehow adjusting the personalities of the Squadron and their secret identities. As a force, they are a veritable league for justice, easily defending the District of Columbia from Frost Giants, chasing them until they cross the border into Canada, at which point they decide (in jingoistic fashion) that they’re no longer the SSA’s problem. The final page reveals that Coulson’s dinner companion, the one who has been supporting him in his attempts to create a new fighting force to replace the Avengers is a familiar face to Marvel readers: Mephisto!
A LITTLE ON-THE-NOSE
It should be noted that the Squadron, who are notoriously ersatz versions of the Justice League of America are explicitly called DC’s greatest heroes in these pages. They mean Washington, but it’s a little more of a nudge in the ribs than this issue’s plot can really support. During a big crossover shmageggi like this, it’s not uncommon for an issue of Avengers to not feature any actual Avengers, but there’s a lot to balance in these pages: A seeming heel-turn for Phil Coulson, five “new” characters (admittedly with some pretty stunning designs/redesigns, especially this new Nighthawk) and a massive, world-wide conflict with Asgard. Still, this issue does skillfully and effectively build the mystery behind Coulson’s partner/backer, and the art is quite impressive throughout the book. I especially like McGuinness’ very New 52 take on Power Princess, and the issue works well enough that I’m not even annoyed at what I think is the tenth distinct iteration of the Squadron Supreme/Sinister.
BOTTOM LINE: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH COULSON?
My biggest issue with this book is actually a worry that I won’t get to see more of these characters and have time to figure out their mystery before The War of Realms consumes everything and the entire Marvel Universe gets reset by chaos. Even with that worry, Avengers #18 makes for a good read, with Aaron providing a compelling story and McGuinness making these familiar heroes look as good as any Squadron iterations has to date, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m still a little leery of this crossover, though…
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The commentary is a little too blunt and the metaphors too obvious for my tastes, but it's an intriguing mystery that could go somewhere interesting (with some great design work.)