REVIEW: Avengers #23
The Avengers are coming home to a world under the control of the mad Titan, Thanos. Their mission: Liberate the Earth at all costs. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Great character stuff.
Charge of the alien light brigade.
The art is sketchy and off-putting.
Infinity crossover madness.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Colorist(s): Sunny Gho & Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor(s): Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Avengers: The entire universe has been at war, but now the Avengers return to Earth to find it in the hands of Thanos. With their allies (Gladiator of the Shi’ar and his Imperial Guard, Ronan The Accuser, Kl’rt the Super-Skrull and Annihilus himself), they have one goal: Take back their planet. Unfortunately, nobody told them that the deck was as stacked against them as it actually is. Will The Avengers fall?
There is an old adage among comics fans: “You gotta read ‘em all, or else none of ‘em make sense.” This issue threatens to prove that adage early on, as we find the Avengers and their allied armada swoop in, returning to Earth. There’s a quick conversation between Captain America and Iron Man that ties into events in the New Avengers title before we set out for the main thread this issue: Breaking into Thanos’ headquarters and taking down his defensive force fields so that they can steal back their home planet. The infiltration team (Black Widow, Manifold and Shang-Chi) are well on their way to success before they encounter one of Thanos generals, the powerhouse called Black Dwarf. His inhuman might proves to be too much, even for the Master of Kung-Fu (but, I’ll be quick to point out, Shang holds his ground against a creature as powerful as The Hulk), leaving me worried about the team’s odds against the armies of Thanos…
SETTING UP FOR THE BIG CLIMAX…
Teleporting back to the ship, Manifold finds that all the Avengers and the Imperial Guard have deployed into space, leaving no one behind to save the day…
…except for the villains. Hickman has previously used his antagonists to good advantage, with Ex Nihilo and Abyss actually joining the Avengers in their battle (although I don’t know if they’re actually members in the traditional sense), but there is a stand-up-and-cheer moment in the middle of the issue when Manifold returns with a cavalry, and Black Dwarf is forced to fight The Super-Skrull, The Accuser, The Gladiator and Annihilus. Seeing these characters, each of whom has traditionally been considered a “bad guy”, fighting on the same side as the Avengers is pretty breathtaking, and makes up for the fact that not a lot actually happens in the issue. As things wrap up, the Avengers are prepared to finally return home and take back their world. Sadly, this issue’s art feels a little bit incomplete and sketchy, with Leinil Yu once again rendering everyone in the manner of rough pencils, making me wish for a strong inker to make things a bit more distinct.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD MIDDLE CHAPTER WITH SOME SURPRISES…
The Infinity crossover has been pretty well contained (and well-written) within the Avengers titles, and has been successful in setting up meaningful stakes for our team. That said, it’s yet another giant crossover shmageggi, which leaves me with the empty fear that nothing that happens here will have any consequence in 3 months when the new crossover takes precedence. Avengers #23 strikes a hard balance between creating a compelling individual issue story and serving as an ongoing chapter of the big Infinity saga, while falling short in terms of art, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. With a new chapter of the Avengers saga on the horizon, this one promises to have long-term repercussions, but I’m a little bit skeptical, given what happened with Age of Ultron and the rest of the giant crossovers of recent years. World War Hulk, anyone?