Under a cover that pays homage to the 1969 "Avengers" #63 cover by Gene Colan, Hank Pym comes to a decision - two decisions, actually - regarding the legacy of Giant-Man and the Wasp. Gage has a passion for this story and these characters, and specifically for Hank Pym, which is evident in his conversation with Tim O'Shea. As the cover reveals, Pym re-assumes his Giant-Man moniker. Of the various identities Pym has operated under, I think Giant-Man is the most visually striking, but also the most underused. While that might be my own nostalgia clicking in, this issue combined with Giant-Man's inclusion on the cartoon seems to support my thought.
In order to give Pym the spotlight, Gage calls upon an old Avengers foe in the form of Absorbing Man. Crusher Creel is being transported by the young squad from Avengers Academy, and naturally things go horribly wrong. Creel's powers are all over the board in this issue, but the simple fact of the matter is this character is always going to get taken down. I think it is safe to say this doesn't spoil too much, the Absorbing Man gets taken down the same way he always does: mind games. Gage does it with style, though, by having Pym (who has been known to have some mental issues of his own) play those mind games all over Creel.
Gage manages to give every character a bit of dialog, a chance to throw or receive a punch, but there's no denying this is Gage's Hank Pym issue. As Slott moved Pym forward by having Pym assume the crimefighting identity of the Wasp, Gage moves Pym forward by having him investigate his past. I just hope Pym locks into an identity for more than a couple of years.
The biggest gripe I can place on this book this week is the inability of Marvel to properly credit its own creators. The cover (at least the variation of the cover I purchased) got it right, but the interior page with the credits for the book misrepresents this as the work of Mike McKone. McKone and Tom Raney (who, for the record is the penciler on this book - Marvel, if you need an editor, please send an email) are very different artists with different strengths.
Here, unfortunately, Raney's work doesn't seem as vibrant as I have come to expect from him. It might be the tag team inking duo, or the wide range of relatively new characters that Raney is tasked with, but Raney's strongest work in the story definitely occurs when Pym is on-panel.
I really, really want to like this book, but it just isn't dazzling me. There's a threat of the month, the kids are presented with the opportunity to learn an after-school special-like lesson, and then we move on. The underlying current of the kids knowing that the adults have them marked as potential bad seeds needs to evolve a bit, before it becomes more of a crutch and less of a subplot. Nothing in this book has hooked me. This is an average issue of "Avengers Academy." It's quaint, and enjoyable, but not very memorable. I can appreciate where others might disagree with this assessment, but this is the one "Avengers" book I just can't get into.