SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo's Avengers #11, on sale now.
The Avengers are in a more of a state of flux than perhaps the team has ever been right now, and the fallout from the shocking events of Secret Empire haven’t done anything to solidify the current version of the group, which hasn’t yet had a chance to really bond and find out where their strengths lie.
Thankfully, last week’s issue of Avengers by Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo provides the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes with some much needed downtime to reflect on what this incarnation is all about, what they mean to each other and most importantly, who is going to lead the team now that Sam Wilson is no longer Captain America.
The Immortal Ones
Avengers #11 is the perfect palate cleanser following a controversial and high-octane event like Secret Empire. It allows Waid and Del Mundo to show certain characters that don’t usually spend much time together interacting and finding a common ground. Perhaps the most interesting of this issue is the friendship formed between Hercules and The Vision, the two longest-standing Avengers on the team, who head for a coffee to talk about their particularly unique perspectives on life.
In a previous arc of Waid and Del Mundo’s Avengers, The Vision learned that although a synthezoid, he will have an unusually long — possibly infinite — lifespan, which is something the Android Avenger has been struggling with. Since his decision to wipe his databanks of all emotional connections and the loss of his wife and son, The Vision has been at a bit of a loose end. To make matters more complicated, having discovering that he is functionally immortal has him questioning the point of getting attached to people whom he will watch grow old and die.
Fortunately, Hercules is a demigod, and while he is quick to point out he is not fully immortal, it’s all a matter of perspective. The Lion of Olympus tells The Vision of his earliest days on Earth and how it pained him to dwell on the exceptionally short life spans of his compatriots, so he stopped dwelling. Hercules cautions The Vision that if he spends too long worrying about the effects of immortality, he could become more cold and removed than ever and instead to embrace life and experience as much joy with as many people as possible.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man isn’t having the best time, post-Secret Empire. His corporation is in ruins, and considering it’s the company that housed and funded The Avengers, the team isn’t too happy with Peter Parker right now -- though they don’t know Parker and SPidey are one and the same. After having to hear his teammates trash his reputation following the downfall of Parker Industries, Spider-Man teams up with The Wasp to find out exactly what her problem with him is. In a fun callback to The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, Spidey points out that Janet Van Dyne always said wasps and spiders are natural enemies, but he wants to prove to Nadia that isn’t true, so he asks her to follow him so he can show her something.
Spider-Man’s plan was to take Nadia Van Dyne to the Midtown Science Fair, but the two heroes get derailed by an overturned truck carrying live animals and the two creepy-crawly themed heroes have to work together to take down lions, tigers and bears and also a whole load of macaques. The two heroes don’t manage to come to the kind of friendship you’d expect them to in a story like this, but they do gain a greater understanding of where the other person is coming from. Thus, a base level of respect is formed as the foundation for the possibility of a genuine friendship down the line, which is sometimes how these things go.