Avengers Academy #39

Story by
Art by
Tom Grummett
Colors by
Chris Sotomayor
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

"Avengers Academy" #39 is the end of the series, but not a very memorable finale. Each of the primary characters get a few lines of dialog and a handful of panels, but no one really shines and nothing dramatic actually happens.

Christos Gage pours plenty of teen drama into this issue, which naturally includes pairings of heroes sucking face and getting sentimental. Through those interactions Gage threads the story of Finesse, who is moreso than ever depicted as an outsider looking in. The writer doesn't force readers into fits of sympathy for the character, but he does certainly use Finesse to present plenty of opportunities for readers to relate to the confused jangle of thoughts and emotions that every "normal" teenager feels.

For the most part, those emotions come through in Tom Grummett's art. Some of Grummett's indifferent and determined expressions weigh out pretty similarly, but he does a good job drawing interested, concerned and angry characters, all of which have plenty of room in "Avengers Academy" #39. Grummett draws some of the most deceptively simple characters and settings I've seen since Mike Parobeck graced comic book pages. It results in some characters afflicted with sameface, but Grummett adds in subtleties to help readers distinguish one from another. Those subtleties are enhanced by Chris Sotomayor's exuberant coloring, which also subs in for backgrounds from time to time.

This is the final issue of "Avengers Academy," so Gage tries to close some loops, finish some subplots and complete some character development. Finesse and Striker are given more room to shine, but as he has done throughout the series, Gage also checks in with the staff -- the Avengers proper -- to quantify their assessment of the newly minted "Avengers Third Grade." Emotions are kept in check and a great deal of the issue comes across as non-committal, slightly disconnected shoulder shrugging. I expected a greater display of emotions given the commencement of the Academy students, but the lack of enthusiasm from the characters in these pages mirrors my own for this story. Once again, "Avengers Academy" fails to find a hook for me, but I have no doubt other readers find this book indispensible.

Which sets me to thinking about the future of these future Avengers. As this series closes up shop, waiting for Marvel NOW! to bring "Avengers Arena," I can't help but wonder how these characters will fare in what is being summarized as a deathmatch comic. Some of the friendships Gage created have started to crack, but given that these characters are all moving out from Gage's watchful eye, nothing is guaranteed.

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