In Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar’s “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #6, the first story arc concludes with a betrayal by a teammate.
Kang the Conquerer’s opening monologue is a succinct recap for the reader. Waid partially remedies the information-dumping delivery by having Spider-Man call it out, but the pacing is off. Meta-humor creates some distance between the reader and the story, and the “explain my villainy” joke is placed just one beat before the revelation of the compromised agent in the Avengers’ ranks. The reader already knows who it is, but still, the revelation scene is anticlimactic. Asrar’s page layout of six thin rectangular grids lacks energy and imagination, further weakening the dramatic potential of the scene.
In the next scene, both Ms. Marvel and Nova benefit from Waid’s talents for natural-sounding, casual dialogue. Asrar’s body language is strong in the two panels where Kamala shields her face to preserve her secret identity. A long, quiet bus station panel sets the mood well, and Asrar’s background details are evocative and significant too, especially when he draws a bus that pulls in right after Kamala makes up her mind.
Another moment marked by strong emotion occurs near the end of the issue, when the Vision talks about his feelings. Waid’s dialogue creates sympathy for him, as does Asrar’s body language, perspective shifts and shading. The page and panel composition, pacing and figure drawing are especially strong in this reconciliation scene, too. Asrar’s work is uneven in “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #6, but the page with the Vision’s speech truly shows off his abilities.
McCaig’s color work hits an emotional high back at the bus stop, with his dark teal hues and whites creating a dreamy, melancholy, star-filled sky at dusk. The shift to warm tones on the last page’s hospital scene makes for a thoughtful change in tone and setting. Each of these scenes also enhance the alliances and friendships Waid gradually builds up within the team, like the one between Ms. Marvel and Nova and the other between Cap and Thor. Unfortunately, the remainder of McCaig’s palette in “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #6 defaults to too much to cyan, cold yellow and orange red accents. Boring color choices flatten the space in the battle scene between Iron Man and the Vision. Asrar’s panel composition for Thor and Cap’s entrance also packs a punch here, but Thor’s right arm is drawn at the wrong angle. The foreshortening of Cap’s limbs is more convincing.
The problem of the Vision’s defection is neatly and quickly resolved, probably too quickly. Exploring a character’s dark side is a common plotline. Waid sidesteps this opening, either saving it for later or letting Tom King explore that darkness in “The Vision.” Waid has some fun with time travel tropes. I’m not fond of time paradoxes, but Waid’s approach has a light touch and he walks the reader through the Spider-Man, Thor and Captain America’s logic. The team feels cohesive in the fight scenes, although Spider-Man hogs the stage with his wise-cracking. Waid gives him the choicest lines, including a plotline-appropriate “Doctor Who” reference.
In “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #6, Kang is a flimsy villain and his machinations were unraveled too easily. There was little suspense created around his evil plan, and his monologues made a comical rather than awe-inspiring impression. The villain seems beside the point, though. The weight of the events lies in the consequences for specific team members: Kamala’s confidence was chipped, but she rebounds thanks to Nova’s intervention, while the damage to The Vision is probably longer-lasting and more troubling. “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #6 is uneven, but Waid is doing a good job of slowly building up the bonds within the team, and there are emotionally resonant moments both on and off the battlefield.