Jonathan Hickman’s sprawling epic about the reformation of Earth at the hands of the Gardeners continues in “Avengers” #10 as a faction of the team more closely investigates the bombs from the Gardeners, specifically the evolution-charged bomb in Regina, in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. Captain America — joined by Hulk, Wolverine, Falcon, Manifold and Smasher — leads that group. Accompanied by Maria Hill, the squad meets up with a pair of operatives from Department H, including Robert Michaud, a Department H spook that insists on accompanying the Avengers into the quarantined zone.
As has become the case for Canadian Flight teams used in the pages of an Avengers comic, “Avengers” #10 does not end well for the members of Omega Flight — Wendigo (I’m not sure when that happened, if it happened before now), Validator, Kingdom and Boxx. Validator becomes the focal character for the Canadian team’s mission, but her powers and skillset undefined. A quick internet search bore no fruit, so my guess is that she does more than simply waive parking fees, but I’m not certain. Wendigo is the Sasquatch/Hulk analog for this adventure, while Boxx is more familiar to me from previous Alpha Flight adventures. Kingdom seems familiar, but just doesn’t ring a bell. Naturally, none of that matters as they all become grist for the Gardener’s reclamation mill.
Mike Deodato’s artwork is gritty and solid throughout this issue. I’ve never been a big fan of his heavily slanted panel layouts, which he uses a bit extensively here. The panels themselves are filled with strong artwork and definitely deliver a sense of alarm or uneasiness, but the use of four to five panels like that simply seems like a waste of page space given the sheer amount of excess page available. Deodato’s linework is exceptionally crisp in this issue, using crosshatching and lines for shading, which is a nice contrast to the preference of most artists to let their colorists save their hides. That said, Frank Martin nicely complements Deodato’s linework, matching the story beat. Deodato and Martin really deliver on the splash page revealing the current state of Regina once Manifold teleports the team there. That breathtaking page acts as a nice pause for the reader, inviting them to take in an eyeful of Eden-eque beauty. As with most of Deodato’s work, there is a point that causes distraction for me. In this case, Agent Michaud wields a firearm that appears to be a BlasTech Industries DL-44, or in layman’s terms: Han Solo’s gun. It’s a quirky enough distraction to present a hiccup in the flow of “Avengers” #10, but it doesn’t completely destroy the work Deodato submits for this adventure.
Bizarre aliens and a creepy scene driven by the presence of Validator post-Gardener fill “Avengers” #10 with uncertainty and excitement. Hickman opens the issue at the end of the story before leaping back to what transpired beforehand, which intensifies the drama and adds a bit of mystery to this adventure before he reveals the status of the system to readers in a cliffhanger. Par for the course, “Avengers” #10 is a great read when considered in the context of the grander adventure. As a standalone story, there’s more than enough meat to this story for readers to sink their teeth into.