Avengers Assemble #18

"Avengers Assemble" #18 adds some pieces to the outside edges of the "Infinity" story, stacking details on top of the space battle depicted in "Avengers" #18. With artist Barry Kitson joining her, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick dials the focus tightly in on Spider-Woman, keeping other Avengers in the mix, but truly giving Jessica Drew the starring role in what is largely a character issue.

DeConnick crawls inside Jessica Drew's head as Spider-Woman confronts her fears -- and by "her fears," I mean Skrulls. It's alluded to in "Avengers" #18 (and comes from "Secret Invasion") but is given a face in this issue. DeConnick checks in with a lot of other characters, giving Captain America and Captain Marvel lines and significant panel space, but the focus never strays from Spider-Woman. That works for this issue and for the intent of getting deeper into the head of one of the dozen-and-a-half Avengers. It all feels very natural, but not overly Avenger-y. The nature of this issue suggests it might have been better to present an anthology series during "Infinity," highlighting the edges, rather than placing unnecessary repetitive scenes and dialog throughout an issue that has a little more than two-thirds fresh story. Still, the repetition does wear thin, even when presented from a slight different angle.

Barry Kitson seems more reserved, or perhaps more hurried, than expected from his art. Aside from one slow-moving fight scene, as one would expect in space, the story lacked flair and clocks in as "good," but not great. Furthermore, I'm not keen on the toy-etic spacesuits. These outfits seem designed to show off parts of the characters' costumes, like Spider-Woman's and Black Widow's breasts or Hulk's butt, and they just look silly. I comprehend that the design is more likely intended to enable readers to identify the characters while they are in space, but these outfits simply look non-functional and just weird.

Apparently the outer edges of the "Infinity" story will continue on for a second issue of "Avengers Assemble," but this first issue doesn't do much to inspire me to drop another four bucks without some convincing. I do enjoy how much command DeConnick has of Spider-Woman and look forward to a team-up with Black Widow, but beyond that I'm more hopeful DeConnick's use of a baseball metaphor will lead to some personality-dominant scenes and that once "Infinity" is done with the Avengers we can maybe see a baseball game like back in the 1986 "Avengers Annual" #15. That would bring in some fun "Avengers Assemble" #18 is simply missing.

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