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Mighty Avengers #21

by  in Comic Reviews Comment
Mighty Avengers #21

As in “Secret Invasion: Requiem,” Dan Slott and Khoi Pham team up for the new adventures of Henry Pym. Only this time, the entire book (except for the “Black Panther” preview) is delivered by the duo. Connected to “Dark Reign” in an ancillary capacity, this story could have easily been christened with a #1, but seeing as “Mighty Avengers” as a title has yet to surpass two years worth of issues, a reboot hardly seems necessary.

What is necessary is a team of Avengers who are actually Avengers. Slott brings them in by the bucket in this issue: Wasp (the Pym version), Hercules, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Stature, Jocasta, Hulk, U.S. Agent, Amadeus Cho, and Edwin Jarvis (the “constant” of the Avengers variables). The roster (for now) seems like a purposeful cross-section of Avengers’ history — trying to avoid cherry-picking while at the same time providing characters with ties across the storied existence of this mightiest of super-hero teams.

Slott has found a home. The team is brought together under a typical comic book team assembly, standard-issue plot device, but Slott makes it feel fresh. One character draws pieces of the team and combines them with the accidental team that stumbles across another character. A double-page spread adds the artistic flourish and gives the title a fanboy-enabling fist-pumping “Oh yeah!” moment.

Pham has, likewise, found a place for his talent to be challenged and placed prominently on display. Too many readers may have missed his work on “Incredible Hercules,” but Pham gets to relive some of those moments here with the Lion of Olympus included on this team. Pham joins a roster almost as star-studded as the Avengers own by taking up the penciling chores on this book. With a style that reminds me of a grittier Barry Kitson or a penciling cousin of Olivier Coipel (seriously, look at his Scarlet Witch when she is pouting), Pham fits right in with the comic book legends who have rendered the imagery for Earth’s Mightiest.

Jason Keith’s colors are spot on — from the ethereal glow of Wanda’s spectral magic to the gritty stone of the statues on Avengers Mansion grounds. The palette shifts when needed, from murkier tones during the plagues of today to brighter, sunshine-tinged hues in the recap of the Avengers origin.

Not to be outdone, Dave Lanphear crafts a unique voice for each cast member, from Vision’s robotic droning to the more feminine, refined, voicemail-operator lilt from Jocasta. Even Scarlet Witch’s dialog carries an eeriness that would most assuredly be considered frightening if it contained the words, “No more mutants!”

It is early in this storyline, to be certain, but there is promise of potential and promise of threat, foreshadowing of plotlines and subplots that will stretch throughout the Marvel Universe and further integrate the Avengers as the cornerstone of Marvel’s publishing schedule. Among the highlights of this issue are the Pym Pockets (think Blink on steroids), Pym’s own retelling of his hatched inadequacies and the introduction of “Toolbot.”

This book is set to investigate Hank Pym’s need for the Avengers and their need for him. With a divergent cast, and a strong creative team, I found myself disappointed that this issue ended so quickly. Then I double-checked the price tag. This is the first $3.99 book that I feel justifies its price point. A quick re-check and it truly does justify the cost — this issue snuck 37 pages of story (yes, including the text page) into my hands. Bravo.

A “Mighty Avengers” preview is available if you want to sneak a peek before dropping coin on this book.