The Avengers #6

After five issues of craziness and balls-to-the-wall action, "Avengers" #6 concludes the story arc centered around time travel with half of the team trying to convince Ultron that allowing himself to be defeated by Kang will save the universe from a space-time collapse. With the preceding issues providing so much action and excitement, this issue is surprising in how tame it is, how physical conflict is presented as the problem, while rational thought is what saves the day. Not the traditional ending for what's been a entertaining throwback to more 'traditional' Avengers stories and proved that Bendis can write big, exciting pop superhero comics with the best of them.

A big part of what makes this issue and the overall story work so well is John Romita, Jr.'s art and his ability to draw just about anything and make it look amazing. In the opening pages where the Avengers confront Ultron, Romita imbues the pages with a palpable tension with all of the characters uneasy and Ultron in command of the situation. They know how dangerous Ultron is and it's readily apparent without being too heavyhanded.

Later in the issue, the battle between Ultron and Kang's forces has an epic feeling despite Ultron taking a dive. The coda to that fight with Kang disappointed at the lack of a challenge is sparse and utilizes broad iconography effectively.

If there's one problem with the art, it's later in the issue where pages from previous issues are reused and put into their proper context, but the coloring doesn't match up. The two first pages from "Avengers" #1 are presented again, showing the reason for the kids of the Avengers killing Immortus and those two pages are somewhat jarring from what leads into them because of vastly different color tones. Otherwise, the issue is visually stunning.

Bendis' writing incorporates those earlier teaser scenes well, giving them the proper context and coming off like they were plucked from this script. The conclusion to this story is more downbeat and subdued than the build, and that feels right. With the central problem caused by a giant war, the solution coming from the intellect and a pacifist solution fits. Instead of fighting the problem, the Avengers outthink it and win by getting Ultron to accept defeat. In the process, we see more of the future and how saving the space-time continuum of course doesn't solve everything.

Throughout this, Bendis throws in some great character moments like Kang's despair at an easy victory and Wolverine making fun of Noh-Varr. Bendis' dialogue tics are still very present, but toned down, used more sparingly and effectively. More than usual, his dialogue drives the book forward.

"Avengers" #6 a fitting and smart ending to a very strong opening story for the relaunched "Avengers." If Brian Michael Bendis hadn't already cemented himself as one of the title's top writers, his work here with John Romita, Jr. definitely does the job. I can't imagine a better way to kick off this book or the "Heroic Age."

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