The Sinister Six have been making a bit of a resurgence in the Marvel Universe of late. They've appeared in part or in whole in "Amazing Spider-Man," "Invincible Iron Man," and now, in "Avengers Academy." The Billy Tan cover to this issue spoils a minor surprise within the story itself, but I suppose it also helps to goose sales a bit as only a fraction of the Six wouldn't be nearly as impressive as the entire half dozen.
Like most of the issues I've sampled of this series so far, Gage's story trots along rather than run or burst. There are almost prescribed story beats marking the time for the characters to charge into battle, find themselves outfoxed, forsake the battle, and vow to double their efforts another day. The story places a couple of characters in harm's way, but for whatever reason the threat never solidifies, let alone drive the story.
The story is choppy from the start, with Reptil apologizing for eavesdropping, even though he's standing right next to Tigra as Jocasta relays a request for aid from the Police Nationale in Paris. I'm certain part of that perceived bobble is due to the coordination between Chen and Gage. The early pages seem a little more cobbled together, but as the issue wears on, the two creators seem to synch up better.
Chen's art is serviceable. There are some good storytelling choices and some bad ones. Electro's beatdown of Striker looks impressive, but it really makes a spectacular leap in storytelling given the position of both characters in the previous panel. Chen puts a great deal of detail into his panels, makes some nice framing selections, and delivers characters that are energetic. All the same, though, nothing about Chen's work really stands out to me. Nothing bursts from the page, save the stegosaurus, but that scene is fleeting and, therefore, doesn't stick around long after the story is done.
"Avengers Academy" is a book that continues to receive considerable accolades, but I somehow continue to sample it with issues that are just slightly better than average. This issue seems on par with the others I've read in recent months: nothing of significant consequence occurs and the characters are less engaging for it. The Academy is a good concept, but lacks some electricity in execution.