Mighty Avengers #33

Story by
Art by
Craig Yeung, Khoi Pham
Colors by
John Rauch
Letters by
Dave Lanphear
Cover by
Marvel Comics

When Dan Slott took over this series from Brian Michael Bendis, his agenda was made clear in his very first issue: He wanted to bring back a "classic" Avengers team, a team that mimicked the composition of the original assembled heroes, and what better way to kick it off than it a showdown with their very first foe, the ever-manipulative Loki?

That's the story Slott's still telling, one year later. Only the showdown with Loki still hasn't happened, and the good guys are just finally getting around to the point where they realize that Loki is behind many of their troubles. But, you know what? This issue doesn't suffer from that slowly-developing plotline. It works quite well, actually, with Loki the mastermind pulling the puppet strings while the Mighty Avengers face lesser obstacles on their journey to find the truth behind the mystery.

But in this issue, the "lesser obstacle" is an Absorbing Man wielding a ball and chain made out of the Cosmic Cube. Which means that the Absorbing Man has absorbed the power of the Cosmic Cube. Which means reality as we know it -- at least in the Marvel U -- will be altered forever. Or, at least, until the end of the issue.

Slott's dialogue can be goofy at times, and it's as if he's imbibed the rhythms of Silver Age comic book syntax, but it also fits the kind of story we're getting here. It's a throwback to the way Avengers stories used to be told: a bit of inner drama, a vast conspiracy, and plenty of external conflict solved by teamwork.

Khoi Pham's artwork may not resemble that of Don Heck, but, like Heck, Pham is a clean storyteller who isn't a superstar artist. Pham brings a 21st century visual sensibility to the comic, but it's still about as traditional as you can get in this era of Marvel comics. Traditional, but good.

Like everything else in the Marvel Universe, "Mighty Avengers" is embroiled in the impending "Siege" and the legacy of Norman Osborn's rule. But given what Slott has been constructing over the past year, the series fits nicely into that larger tapestry. And it stands firmly on its own. It's good, solid, classic superhero action and adventure, in the old-fashioned "Mighty Avengers" mold.

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