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    Review: Avengers #29

    By | May 16th, 2014
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    After over a year of build-up, Captain America finally finds out what The Illuminati did to him in this “Original Sin” tie-in! Check out our review below but be warned there are mild spoilers for this comic and for some of “New Avengers”.

    Written by Jonathan Hickman
    Illustrated by Leinil Yu 

    WHAT DID HE SEE?

    With “Original Sin” mucking about and digging up the skeletons in everyone’s closets, Hickman and Yu have taken this opportunity to finally begin the major crossover that’s been brewing between the sister “Avengers” and “New Avengers” titles. In case you haven’t caught up, or have only been reading one series, miscellaneous Justice League members The Illuminati are dealing under the table with Dr. Light’s use of a patriarch and tired storytelling trope the collapse of the Multiverse but stick-in-the-mud Batman Captain America wanted to do things the right way. In order to keep everything on the down low The Atom Iron Man had Zatanna Dr. Strange wipe the boy scout’s mind only for it get brought up later and cause a massive conflict.

    Even though I just compared it to “Identity Crisis” (*shudder*), Hickman’s mega-Avengers/Illumanti storyline has definitely been one of the more compelling aspects of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Built up slowly over time and with tons of the ominous foreshadowing and narration that Hickman has a penchant for, the confrontation between Steve/Tony feels like it has a lot more substance than the controversy that sprung out of nowhere in “Identity Crisis” or “Civil War”. There are multiversal stakes here, and you could see why one hero would keep secrets from the other for the sake of the so-called “greater good”. 

    Unfortunately for a story that’s had so much build-up, “Avengers” #29 feels insanely rushed. I’ve appreciated Hickman’s fast-paced story lines with “Avengers” in the past while some people claim it’s really slow, but that’s due to all the build up.  If you look at the individual issues, so much happens. And again, so much happens in this issue — but now that’s the problem. It just kind of happens. You know how Marvel was kind of vague about how “Original Sin” would tie into the stories? Would The Watcher’s eyes actually expose past sins or would writers just use this opportunity to drudge up events from the past?

    Yeah, Steve just kind of wakes up, remembers everything, and screams “AYO FUCK TONY STARK!” for a couple pages. It’s uh… kind of an underwhelming moment, to be honest.

    Before that moment though, we get about eight pages taken from past issues of “New Avengers” in addition to the recap page. Now I don’t know which one of you sumbitches has only been reading “Avengers” but it’s because of you that I had to pay an extra dollar for this “oversized comic”.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love Leinil Yu. His shadowy art works exceptionally well with this type of story and his characters seem like a compromise between heroes and men. They have the standard grandiose postures but the wrinkles in Yu’s lines imply a vulnerability to them, and as rushed as the final fight scene seems to be, it’s pretty damn intense. Still, we could do without him having to remake several pages from another series, complete with the same script. The extended recap only takes away from the impact of the confrontation between Tony and Steve. This should be a universe-wide event; it has enough stakes to become a second Civil War, but there just isn’t enough scale to make this scene work. Yu’s pulling out all the stops (the menacing looks, the grand postures, making Starbrand of all people look like he belongs in this event), but it just doesn’t work.

    Overall, this issue’s biggest challenge is the pacing. Maybe if there wasn’t a need for the lengthy recap pages there would’ve been more space to let the story actually breathe but, as I said earlier, it all just happens. Steve wakes up, tells everyone about Tony and they’re all just like “…Cool.” Everyone busts down Tony’s door and there’s about three to four pages of some good shit going on, but then Cap pulls a forgotten plot device out of nowhere and we’re zapped off to the setting for the next story arc.

    Continued below

    The worst part about this is I am immeasurably excited for where that cliffhanger ending takes us. Though this issue disappointed me, I’m so drawn into what’s all going on that I know I’m going to be back for the next month and the month after that. It’s the curse of Hickman’s “Avengers”: for the past year and a half I’ve been following this series and with the exception of some great moments in “Infinity” there haven’t been many satisfying moments.

    Hickman has this theory about superhero comics where he refers to “The Second Perpetual Act” that comics are stuck in because they never really end. Mutantkind will never be accepted, Spider-Man will never have his life completely together forever, and Deadpool will never bang Bea Arthur. It’s a great theory, but only on a universal scale, not when applied to a single comic book. Maybe if this were a five-issue mini it’d be alright to save all conclusions for the final issues, but we are 50+ issues deep into this mega-arc (if you count “Infinity” and “New Avengers”) and nothing really feels like it concludes, but rather just happens. The Builders die out because Thor threw a hammer at them and they weren’t that big a threat, parts of Canada are still apparently haunted (but we’ll get back to that eventually), and Thanos showed up but it’s alright because that kid he named after Mass Effect froze him.

    Without a sense of gravity, this current iteration of “Avengers” doesn’t hold the significance that it genuinely deserves. I want to love this series, but it feels like “Avengers” is a series that doesn’t want to be loved.

    Final Verdict: 6.2 – Tradewait. This series is probably going to be incredible when all combined together but in single issues it’s kind of a pain.


    James Johnston

    James Johnston is a grizzled post-millenial. Follow him on Twitter to challenge him to a fight.

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