Avengers Assemble #22

As they discover that Anya's teacher is -- in all likelihood -- dead, Spider-Girl, Spider-Woman, and Black Widow enlist the help of Wolverine and Bruce Banner to learn more about who kidnapped him and why. With a creative team featuring the talents of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Warren Ellis, Matteo Buffagni, Paco Diaz, and Nolan Woodward, "Avengers Assemble" #22 ran the risk of a jumbled story at the hands of so many people; however, their story comes together seamlessly with a blend of styles that reads quickly, coherently, and enjoyably. "Avengers Assemble" continues to be a fun, vibrant story that spotlights underused characters and utilizes them to their fullest potential through snappy dialogue and careful, gorgeously-wrought artwork.

Though she's only featured in the two, short scenes that bookend the issue, Toxic Doxie absolutely steals the limelight. Designed to display her insane attachment to genetics, her dialogue borders on lusty as she discovers an inhuman gene, effectively showcasing motivations while highlighting her absolute disregard for human life. Her insidious nature emanates from her body language, from the palpable glee at a discovery in her smug smile to her complete apathy towards other people as she uses a dead body to prop up her feet. What's more, her new costume design is a wonderful reflection of her character; the toxic green coloration of her outfit and her glasses' round, lab-goggle look really capture the "mad scientist" vibe without leaning on stereotype. In both attitude and appearance, she translates as a formidable opponent for the Avengers without coming across as overpowered or an overused trope.

Additionally, Spider-Girl really gets a chance to shine. Her inexperience, a device that typically gets old fast, is endearing rather than annoying; that is, she adds nice chemistry to her spider lady team up, balancing out Spider-Woman's zaniness and Black Widow's no-nonsense attitude with both exasperation and fun quips. Humor aside, Spider-Girl remains stubbornly, steadfastly resilient by showing fortitude in the face of defeat, thereby emphasizing her heroic qualities. As with Toxic Doxie, Buffagni and Diaz reinforce these qualities through their wonderful posturing. For instance, Spider-Girl's shock contrasts nicely with Black Widow's knowing smirk as Spider-Woman bursts free of her binding; her awkward positioning on the couch as she apologizes the Black Widow and Bruce Banner is even more delightful as she bemoans "making it awkward" with them. Her dialogue and her body language culminate into an authentic teen voice.

"Avengers Assemble" is Marvel's best character piece currently running. With laugh-out-loud humor and excellent character development, the book truly makes the Avengers feel fun again; the run feels like the mischievous younger brother of Jonathan Hickman's "Avengers" titles. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Warren Ellis, Matteo Buffagni, Paco Diaz and Nolan Woodward have certainly proved that they are a winning combination.

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