A throwback to the 1990s in theme, story, and art, this title is almost as chronologically displaced. Featuring an Avengers team that was a blip on the history radar of Avengers lineups, you know you’re in for a challenging read when the first two pages of the book essentially serve as a who’s who of players and teams — four teams and twenty-two identified participants. Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — not all of the characters identified up front made the final cut into the adventures of this issue.
The story following those initial two pages feels painfully incomplete. While this series is set to span three issues, it feels as though it was on tale cut into thirds. Sure, there’s a bit of a cliffhanger to end the story, but there is not enough emotional equity built up in the story to really make the reader care when the end of the tale rolls around.
It used to be that crossovers were a special treat, that rare occasion when things worked out creatively and editorially. The characters would fall into conflict, reach resolution and face the challenge in tandem, combining to become a bigger, more exciting whole than the sum of their parts. This one just doesn’t have that. The story, while executed well from a tactical standpoint, does not offer anything special. It’s just another day at the Quinjet for the Avengers who happen across a fellow that makes them think of their sometime compatriot Wolverine. Abnett and Lanning are gifted writers, but their gift doesn’t quite shine through here.
Kirkham’s art waffles between wanting to be like Jim Lee and actually being like Rob Liefeld. There are scenes where his characters seem disproportionately assembled, but behind those characters are painstakingly rendered brick walls. His Wonder Man feels more like Cyclops and his Ms. Marvel evidently has a compulsion for playing with her sash, as the knot flops from one hip to the other throughout the book. That said, Kirkham turns in a good effort, if not perfect execution. After all, he has to handle a score of characters in locations that are dispersed far and wide.
In all, this story is disappointing. The two pages up front offer more promise than the paltry twenty pages can deliver. There may be hope for future issues, but Abnett and Lanning will be hard pressed to make the next two issues meaningful, offer a refined plot and competently introduce the remainder of the characters introduced on the early pages of this issue.