All in all, I’m a big fan of “Avengers Academy.” I like the basic thrust of the series (teenagers who are potential super-villains getting steered away from that path by the Avengers), it’s had great luck with artists, and Christos Gage makes the characters a lot of fun. So with all that in mind, I almost hate to say that this is the first issue that left me underwhelmed.
The problem is that this issue feels like its plotting comes straight out of a sit-com, and not the good kind like “How I Met Your Mother” but rather the old, tired, played-out tropes that keep cropping up. I’m used to reading from Gage scripts where characters do things organically and are the result of everything building up to that point. Here? Characters randomly admit that they’re sleeping with someone else’s ex, people walk in to a room just in time to hear offensive things being spoken, and people go from “We’re just going as friends” to “Let’s get into the sack” in the blink of an eye.
In short, characters are behaving in ways solely to move the plot forward, not because it makes the most amount of sense. And that’s a shame, because Gage is normally much better about this. Buried in the issue are one or two good moments (like a follow-up on Reptil still being in his adult body from the previous issue, or Speedball’s comment, “No fighting amongst ourselves. This isn’t the X-Men.”) but they almost get lost in the shuffle. I’d like to see those positive bits (like Mettle and Hazmat’s budding relationship) get explored more down the line, so at least there’s something to look forward to.
Sean Chen and Scott Hanna’s art looks great, though. I love the way he draws Tigra in a flowing green dress, or how adult-Reptil looks distinctly different than teen-Reptil did (but are still obviously the same person). And his pissed off Firestar? Well, based on that look of barely-controlled rage on her face, I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. Getting Chen on board is always a pleasure, and hopefully he’ll be kept in mind for any future guest art stints.
Do people even still scream “Food fight!” and shove a slice of cake in someone else’s cake? Like so much in this comic, it feels forced and from a different genre entirely. “Avengers Academy” from the previous twelve issues? Come back, you’re missed. This issue felt like a refugee from a different comic entirely.