Avengers Prime #5

The bimonthly series that was meant to repair the damage to the relationships of Thor, Steve Rogers, and Tony Stark came to its end with lots of action and a few lingering questions about its place within the Marvel Universe. In that respect, it's hard to balance the series and its finale taken on its own terms against the other comics featuring these characters that seem to either contradict this series or would have some sort of fall-out from "Avengers Prime." Still, if taken on its own terms, the big action-packed conclusion is just about as thrilling a superhero comic as you're likely to find this month with stellar art by Alan Davis.

Thor leads his two fellow Avengers and an army of creatures from the Nine Realms against Hela in an effort to restore the Nine Realms to their proper state in the aftermath of "Siege." How that meshes with the post-"Siege" "Thor" storyline of Thor rescuing Hela's new Hel in Mephisto's realm is a little hard to figure out, but that's only a concern for those that care. Simply seeing Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man fighting alongside Elves and Orcs, and even a dragon, is a blast, especially with Davis on art. The opening pages get right down to the action and that two-page spread of Hela's forces attacking is amazing in its detail, depicting an army of the dead.

With so much of this issue devoted to the battle between Hela and Thor's forces, Davis' art carries the issue to a larger degree than in the past. He uses a lot of slanted-panel layouts to create a sense of movement and chaos. There are a lot of characters fighting all at once, but it never becomes so chaotic that you can't tell what's going on. That balance between depicting the chaos and telling a clear story is amazing, partly because Javier Rodriguez makes sure to draw the eye to the focal point of each panel with his colors. He'll use heavy reds to shade background characters, while color the foreground characters a little more fully. It's not simply a blanket wash over the background characters, it's more subtle than that and done in degrees. It's just enough to set the foreground and background apart.

The end of the issue is truncated, wrapping the story, and the emotional rift between the characters, up too quickly. Since repairing the damage done by "Civil War" between Tony and Steve, and Tony and Thor was a priority of the series, the pat 'Now we're friends again!' wrap-up scene that occurs doesn't feel as earned as it's clearly meant to be. Sure, they fought a bad guy together, but if that was enough to fix things, wouldn't defeating Norman Osborn have done the job? It seems like that aspect of the story was cast aside and only returned to because it needed to be touched on. We were never shown the damaged relationships being repaired, we're simply told they have been.

If you read "Avengers Prime" #5 in a vacuum, it works a lot better than if you try to fit it into the Marvel Universe proper. How does Thor go from defeating Hela to defending her new Hel? What effects are there of Steve Rogers cheating on Sharon Carter? Will Thor show guilt for not returning Asgard to its proper place when he had the chance with what's happening in his title at the moment? Best to set those questions aside and just enjoy an entertaining, large scale action comic featuring some gorgeous, dynamic art.

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