Collects Uncanny Avengers #1-5

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Cassaday

After the events of Avengers vs X-Men, Captain America finally acknowledges that the Avengers haven’t done enough to help mutants. In order to help them now, he gathers an Avengers team from both mutants and Avengers. He also appoints Havok as the team leader. They’re thrown into a difficult situation right from the start: Avalanche attacks a group of humans and trashes several city blocks.

Meanwhile, Xavier’s grave is opened and his body is stolen. Rogue and the Scarlet Witch try to defend the body but unsuccessfully; instead they are kidnapped. Rogue loathes Wanda because of the things Wanda has done to the mutants but Wanda shields Rogue during the attack and is wounded. The attackers are a new group of villains under the leadership of Red Skull who has a pretty frightening new power. (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.) The rest of the team (Cap, Thor, Havok, and Wolverine) are trying to calm down humans who are attacking mutants on the streets. A villain called Honest John seems to be causing this with his propaganda powers.

Red Skull’s S-Men were a bit cheesy start for the series and it seemed to me that Wanda confessed that she was actually thinking of joining Red Skull’s group! This was really disappointing! Otherwise, I think that it’s good that the Avengers have finally woken up to the difficulties mutants have and are actively trying to help them. The story references both Nazis and the Days of the Future Past comic in the X-Men, even having that iconic poster of the terminated heroes behind two fugitives, only this time the hunted ones are Havok and Wanda.

The final issue in the collection is a start to the next storyline. Twins are born and they’re called Apocalypse Twins. Both Kang and Immortus are involved. Meanwhile, back in the Avengers Mansion, Wonder Man, Wasp, and Sunfire are the newest members. Since Wonder Man doesn’t fight anymore, he’s in mostly for PR. But during a press conference, the Grim Reaper attacks. The Reaper claims that he can’t die but Rogue absorbs his powers and seems to kill him.

I’m a sucker for a good Kang story and I have high hopes for this storyline. Both Simon and Sunfire seem to have been through a lot of traumatic events which brings conflict into the team. Loved the early glimpse to (alternative?) future at the end of issue 4. Havok was great at the press conference; he took off his mask and told everyone his real name – then again he doesn’t have a secret identity as such.

Overall, I enjoyed this new team and I’m looking forward to that Kang story.

Collects issues 1-12 of the Avengers Forever series.

Writers: Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern
Artist: Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino
Publisher: Marvel

Rick Jones is critically ill and the Avengers travel to the Moon to get help from the Kree Supreme Intelligence. The Intelligence agrees to help him. For Rick and seven Avengers picked from different places in the Avengers time line, this is the start of an awesome adventure through time and different realities, and through Avengers’ history.

The seven Avengers are: the Wasp and the Giant-Man from the then current Avengers continuity: the Wasp is the leader of the group and takes command naturally. Three from the past: Hawkeye from the time just after the Kree-Skrull war and Yellowjacket at the eve of his and Janet’s wedding, when he is out of his mind. A super-strong Captain America who has just witnessed his beloved government at its lowest point and is demoralized. And two from the future who hadn’t joined the Avengers yet: Songbird the former criminal and a bitter Captain Marvel, the son of the original. The latter two are pretty much unknowns and Yellowjacket brings in a lot of conflict, so the team is quite interesting to follow and not too united.

Circumstances force the team to ally themselves with their old enemy: Kang the Conqueror who is searching for a way to avoid becoming Immortus, whom Kang despises. During their travels, the Avengers witness how, and eventually why, Immortus has manipulated the team pretty much from the start. Busiek and Stern explain the various inconsistencies in some of the team history, including the origin of the Vision and the various versions of Kang, and my hat is off to them for even attempting it.

This is aimed at the team’s old fans who know the back story and have read it, and those of us who love alternate histories and futures. I really enjoyed this one and it’s probably my favorite Busiek Avengers story. Kang is one of my favorites and here he gets a whole issue to himself to clear up his history and to see things from his perspective. The collection even has a handy guide at the back: a list of comics from where all the references are from.

Definitely not the place to start reading Avengers!

Collects Avengers vol. 1 270-271, 273-277

Writer: Roger Stern
Artists: John Buscema, Tom Palmer

A large gang of villains band together under the leadership of Baron Zemo to humiliate and utterly defeat the Avengers. And looks like they are going to do it!

However, the collection starts with a different tone with people demonstrating against Namor joining the team. Some people remember when he led his Atlantean army against humans while to others he’s still a hero from WW II. But Namor has to leave in the second issue and doesn’t come back, so that subplot is left open.

Baron Zemo recruits a lot of villains who want to wipe the floor with the Avengers: Mr Hyde, Titania, the Absorbing Man, the Fixer, Yellowjacket, Moonstone, Blackout, Wrecker and his crew. However, from the start Moonstone is challenging Zemo’s leadership and throughout the story Zemo has to be paranoid about his own crew. Most of the other villains are interested in just physical battle, though.

The Avengers have quite a smaller line-up: the Wasp, as team leader, the Black Knight, Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Hercules. Namor leaves in the second issue and a couple of reservists join later. Marvel is obviously the most powerful Avenger and Zemo has plans to neutralize her. She also explores her powers and we see her traveling to the Moon in just a few minutes. Apparently, there’s a romantic triangle between the Wasp and the Black Knight, and a new character, a mercenary called the Paladin. Zemo is able to use that to his advantage. Also, Hercules resents the Wasp’s leadership so the Avengers bicker as much as ever. This time, the Wasp is a decisive leader which is a huge change to her small role in the Kree-Skrull War trade.

The story itself is pretty basic without any extra hooks or depth. However, the pacing is good and it’s entertaining.

This is a good trade for new readers because it doesn’t rely on previous stories. Of course, the characters are different from the movie.

The Finnish edition (which came out a couple of months ago in hard cover) has also issue 272 where Namor asks the Avenger’s help to free Marrina who is being held hostage by Atlantis’ current ruler, the ruthless Attuma. The Avengers of course want to help him but they are worried that Namor will use them as a way to get back his throne. However, once they free Marrina, both Namor and Marrina swim away and aren’t seen in this collection again.

Collects Avengers vol. 1 #89 – 97 (June 1971 – March 1972).

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Sal Buscema, Neal Adams, Tom Palmer, John Buscema

This classic Avengers story has several story lines and is a clear inspiration to Busiek’s work. In addition to being a super hero adventure ins space, it’s a commentary on the Cold War.

The story starts with the Kree warrior Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell. The Avengers (the Vision, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch) are trying to capture him and succeed. He has a link to Rick Jones who is a young rocker kid here. They can change places so that the other is in the Negative Zone while the other is on Earth. Rick has concentrated on his coming career and left Mar-Vell to the Zone. Not surprising, Mar-Vell is unhappy about it and finds a way to return through the Fantastic Four’s Negative Zone device. However, because of his long stay on the Zone, he’s suffering from Nega radiation poisoning. The Avengers and Rick capture him and try to treat him.

Meanwhile, in the Kree home world, Ronan the Accuser is after his hated enemy Mar-Vell. Ronan usurped the leadership of the mighty star spanning empire, the Kree. He activates a Sentry robot on Earth. It captures Mar-Vell and bring him to the Kree base on Alaska. The Avengers, with Goliath, the Wasp, and the Yellowjacket, follow the Sentry there and battle it. However, the battle is near US science station and even though the three scientist at first agree to keep silent about the matter, they end up telling to the media that hostile aliens are on Earth. This starts a witch hunt spearheaded by Senator H. Warren Craddock. He even unleashes Mandroids against the Avengers because the heroes refuse to give up Captain Marvel. The Avengers stand by their friends and don’t give in to threats.

Much of the action is on Earth against various enemies until the last two issues. However, pretty early on, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are kidnapped and taken to the Skrull throneworld, so they are out of the action for most of the story. Later, the Avengers travel to the Kree home world and confront the Kree Intelligence Supreme.

Unfortunately, the writing shows its time. At the start of the story there are two active women Avengers, the Scarlet Witch and the Wasp, who, alas, aren’t very effective members. They tend to state the obvious and play peace maker. Even though they need to be protected in battle, they are often captured and used as hostages or bait for the other heroes. In the second issue Yellowjacket has disappeared and all the Wasp can do, is tearfully beg for Goliath to come rescue him. When the Yellowjacket retires from the team, the Wasp immediately does the same. This story also introduces the Vision/Scarlet Witch romance. However, later both Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are kidnapped by the Skrulls and used as hostages. The Wasp retires in the third and Wanda is soon kidnapped so for most of the story the Avengers have an all male (and white except for the red skinned android) team: the Vision, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and Goliath.

Quicksilver shows appalling sexism by telling Wanda “it ill becomes you to flaunt your carefully acquired colloquialism at your male betters”. And a couple of pages later he tells the Vision not to insult his sister!

However, the story introduces Carol Danvers as the head of security at Cape Canaveral. Nobody questions her right for the job and she’s a very no-nonsense woman. But she’s seen only briefly.

The other signs of the times is the pretty pompous dialog and the chatty narrator.

If you can stomach the sexism, this is great early super hero adventure.

Collects Avengers vol. 3 #41–55 (Vol. 1 #456–470), and Annual 2001
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer (issues 41-43), Manuel Garcia and Bob Layton (issues 44-47), Kieron Dwyer and Rick Remender (issues 48-55), and Patrick Zircher and Scott Koblish (issue 55).

The final Busiek run! He goes out with a bang.
I consider this one of the best Avengers space adventures and also one of the best Kang adventures ever. As a time traveler, Kang is notoriously hard to write but Busiek manages.

Kang and his son the Scarlet Centurion have been watching Avengers for a some issues now and in issue 41 they finally attack from their sword shaped space station the Damocles Base.

In the next issue Kang shows the Avengers various futures where Earth’s fate is bleak: humanity will fall from various attacks. Kang offers to save the Earth from all of them – after he has conquered the whole planet, of course. Earth, in the person of UN’s Secretary-General, refuses. However, Kang has a ploy up his sleeve; he has broad casted an offer to everyone: anyone who will help subdue Earth will have a place in Kang’s new order. Not surprising, various groups take up on that offer. Avengers and various governments are plagued by attacks ranging from supervillains to the Deviants. The stage is set for multi-issue story lines.

Issue 41, “High Ground”, sets up several subplots: Hank (who is still the fake Hank) suffers from sudden seizures and a small group of Avengers (Thor, Cap, the Black Knight, Firebird, and the Quicksilver) head out to Siberia to investigate alarming reports of high radiation levels. Meanwhile Wanda and Simon are taking a small vacation and Simon tells that he’s heading out to L.A. Wanda doesn’t want to leave her position as the deputy leader of the Avengers and so they depart. It’s not hard for either of them even though earlier they were professing love stronger that death. Also, in the middle of fighting the Avengers in front of the UN building, the Scarlet Centurion feels powerfully attracted to Warbird. All of these will have consequences in coming issues.

Then the Avengers start the fight in several fronts and a lot of reserve Avengers are called in.

In addition to Kang and his army, the Avengers have to deal with the Presence and his “mate” Starlight who are turning people into radioactive zombies, a surge of various groups who want to get to Kang’s good side, the Triune Understanding’s endgame, and the Master of the World. So their hands are more than full.

The Triune Understanding is waiting for a Triple Evil to come from space and they have built a space ship to fight against it. We get to finally know the whole story behind Triune’s leader Tremont and the whole movement. Triathlon’s connection to the 3D-Man is also revealed. I thought the storyline was ended well here.

Yet, Busiek has time to do characters stories, as well. Thor loses his temper big time when he sees that Captain America has become one of the radioactive zombies and only Starlight’s interference stops Thor from killing the Presence right there. Later, Thor realizes that he’s become too close to the mortal Avengers and wants to leave when the Kang situation is under control. However, Firebird had once again inexplicably survived damage that should have killed her and Thor remarks that she might be immortal, too. Firebird wants to convince Thor to stay on the team and says that the fleeting relationship are all the more precious because we know that some day they will be gone.

Carol gets a lot of screen time. The Scarlet Centurion is apparently attracted to her and Carol suspects from the start that he’s Marcus; the man who mind controlled her to leave the Avengers and did some pretty hideous things to her. One of the issues (47) is dedicated to telling us the Scarlet Centurion’s back story and circumstances force Carol and the Centurion to work together. Carol remains suspicions of him the whole time. Later, she also kills a villain in desperation and demands that she be court-martialed over it.

Issue 49 is written without any dialog. Considering that the issue has a crucial turning point to the story, it works amazingly well.

The last issue is dedicated to the aftermath and we find out about a surprising casualty.

I thought this was a very good story with several story lines. Considering how much is going on, it’s perhaps a bit surprising but this is probably the best album for new readers to get. There’s not much back story about the members to know about, and Carol’s and Marcus’ history is retold.

Collects Avengers vol. 3 #36–40, 56, Avengers: Ultron Imperative, and Annual 2001


Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Steve Epting, Al Vey, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Yanick Paguette, Ray Snyder, Ivan Reis, Scott Hanna

Issues 36 and 37 have a two issue story where our heroes deal with two threats.
“No Rest for the Weary” starts with Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, and the Vision dealing with the aftermath of Maximum Security, in other words, a high powered alien who is still loose on the Earth. Hank is testing Wonder Man but he can’t find a way to protect Simon from being taken over by Neferia again. Wanda doesn’t like the way that Hank is all cold and scientific about it, and then Jan talks to Hank about the same thing; about how withdrawn Hank has been lately. Also the Triathlon/Triune Understanding subplots are developed. 3-D Man’s wife comes to the Mansion and accuses the Triune of doing something horrible to her husband because Triathlon has the 3-D Man’s powers and uses his symbol. However, Triathlon hasn’t heard about that hero but promises to look into it.

Then both Pagan and Lord Templar attack. Apparently, Lord Templar has turned Pagan into his disciple and is convinced that the Avengers are all that stand on the way of Lord Templar’s plan to bring peace on Earth. Guest stars Photon and Jack of Hearts join the fray. Then Cap calls and says that he needs help in Slorenia. And Yellowjacket Hank kidnaps Giant-Man Hank!

In “Scorched Earth” Cap, Wanda, Simon, Monica, and Tony are trying to figure out to a way to battle the Bloodwraith who is connected to all the dead souls in Slorenia whom Ultron killed in earlier issues. Bloodwraith is in unidentified energy form and he intends to punish the whole world for their deaths. Meanwhile, in New York Pagan and Lord Templar are tearing the Mansion apart while the Wasp, the Vision, Triathlon, Ms. Marvel, and Jack of Hearts are battling them. Giant-Man joins the fight and his mood has improved a lot – of course, because he’s an impostor!

I enjoyed the divided team but there’s so much going on that the latter issue is starting to feel crowded. However, both of the threats are old Avengers business coming to bite them again. Not surprisingly, Cap feels frustrated about the situation in the end.

In “Above and Beyond” the Avengers expand their teams and the way they’ve operated so far. For starters, Cap and the Wasp are now co-leaders. Instead of responding to threats, which they also do of course, they send a team (the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Triathlon, Ms. Marvel, and Wonder Man) after the Taskmaster’s training groups. They also have an early warning platform in space which is manned by Quasar and the Living Lighting with Photon popping in every now and then. The Black Knight and Firebird are in Slorenia looking into Bloodwraith’s situation. Carol and Vision go finally on a date. And then the government liaison contacts the Avengers: a horde of Hulks is decimating a small Greek village.

Oh, and Wanda gets a new costume. It’s much more practical than the flowing skirts.

In “Condition: Green” and “Thoom!” the main Avengers team (Cap, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Wasp, Giant-Man, the Vision, Iron Man, and Ms. Marvel) battle the many Hulks in Greece. Dr. Banner also shows up to help. Meanwhile, the villain responsible for the Hulks, the Wizard, is skulking around near the Avengers’ Mansion and Silverclaw confronts him. Later, Wonder Man and Triathlon help her.

This was just cheesy fun and I really enjoyed these two issues! Silverclaw gets to really shine with her shape shifting abilities against the Wizard and she has a lot of courage to take on such a long-time villain. On the other hand, I didn’t really care for the way that the (fake!) Hank took over leading the Avengers by not telling his plans to the Wasp before executing them. The Wasp is supposed to be the team leader, after all. She was curiously hesitant around him and unfortunately it also felt weird, or should I say dumb, that she didn’t suspect that Hank had been replaced or mind controlled or from another universe or something.

Issue 56 “Lo, there shall be an… accounting” might be worth a few giggles but it’s otherwise quite forgettable. A couple of accountants from the Maria Stark Foundation are quizzing various Avengers about a case they had because the accountants have to know if all the destruction (and so the use of money) was necessary. One of the accountants is new and apparently would prefer for the Avengers to retire and let Kang or Thanos or somebody to rule the world instead. The other one is more experienced, though. Thor, She-Hulk, the Beast, USAgnet, Cap, and Jack of Hearts tell their own sides of the case.

Annual 2001 solves the two Hank Pyms plot line. Yellowjacket-Hank collapses and is turning translucent. The Avengers’ regular doctor, Dr. Foster, can’t do anything about it. Hank tells Jan about the other Hank who is being kept as a prisoner in The Horner Hideaway, right on the Avengers’ front yard. Triathlon suggests that Hank has been split into two (instead of being a doppelganger or alternate universe double or… Good guess!) and that the Triune Understanding’s Tremont can heal them into one man again. Janet is out of options and so she asks Tremont for help. He agrees. We get to see the two Hanks talking through their issues in some sort of mental space.

Meanwhile Photon and Triathlon bond. Triathlon still feels out of place because he’s the new guy while the others are old friends and Photon, who has been the new member once, too, tells him that in time he will fit in just fine. They also talk about being black in a white man’s world.

Photon also finds out that Justice and Firestar aren’t on vacation but undercover at Understanding. They’ve found out that the Understanding is waiting for some great evil to come from space and they are building a spaceship which will either work on brain energy or kill everyone. They are concerned.

The Hank plot line is solved here with three Hanks merging into one. Hopefully, Hank’s behavior will be less erratic in the future.

The annual also had short story “House Cleaning” where Jarvis answers queries from the government (actually from the readers, presumably). The three Tony Starks plot line, which emerged right before Onslaught is explained; apparently, the Tony who killed three women doesn’t really exist anymore even though the current Tony has some memories of the time. Also, Janet turning into a giant insect right before Onslaught but returning as regular Janet was explained; Franklin Richards recreated the heroes from his memories which “fixed” Janet – and Clint’s hearing problems, too.

(Yep, a bit a of cop out for Marvel dropping plots without any awkward consequences.)

The Annual tied up the Hank plot line and I really enjoyed the many Hulks story (in fact, I’ve used it in a table-top role playing game and we had a blast). However, I was less thrilled with the way that Janet, the presumed team leader was sidelined.

The collection is a continuation of previous story line and not a good place to start for new readers.

Collects Avengers vol.3 issues 1-11, Avengers Annual 1998; Iron Man (1998) #7; Captain America (1998) #8; Quicksilver #10
Publisher: Marvel
Publication date: 2011

Almost a year of Busiek’s Avengers! It’s very hard to top this.

The first four issues were collected in the Morgan Conquest . They gather up almost every Avenger ever to battle Morgan la Fay and eventually to form the new team which has internal conflict from the start.

In issue 5, “Accusation Most foul”, a couple of other classic elements returns: the Squadron Supreme and public suspicion. The issue starts with a training sequence where Warbird refuses to use her Binary powers and still doesn’t tell Cap that she doesn’t have them anymore. Meanwhile Tony is helping Vision repair his synthetic body which was wounded in issue 3. While his body is being repaired, Vision is a hologram and so confined to the Mansion, and also creepily spying on his fellow Avengers. Downtown, Hawkeye is helping Wanda to shop and they discuss how Wanda is able to summon Wonder Man who is thought to be dead. Wanda is a bit uncomfortable with her fluctuating powers. Then the team is called to help with a crashed airplane. The plane is slowly sinking into the sea and the Avengers start to help the rescue efforts. Cap and Hawkeye are arguing when the Squadron Supreme appears and accuses the Avengers of being impostors. Interestingly, the media picks up on this and is speculating if it could be true that the real Avengers are still dead. Of course, a fight ensues.

The issue has several hints about things to come. The issue starts with Jarvis picking up the mail and a letter from Costa Verde is mentioned. Thor is bringing in the Cask of Ancient Winters. Wanda is worried about her powers and summons Wonder Man again. Cap also notices how rusty the team is working together and Carol is still not telling about her powers.

The issue has a lot of humor. Hawkeye is making his cracks which refer to classic events, such as the Squadron Supreme being mind controlled again and when Freeman says that the Avengers have to clear up their name or they would be arrested, Hawkeye says: “Again? But that trick never works.” Loved it.

In the next issue, “Earth’s Mightiest Frauds?” the Avengers decide, after some bickering, to travel to Project: Pegasus where the Squadron lives and investigate things. Cap and Hawkeye talk briefly about Hawk eye’s frustrations about not being the leader. They shake hands but Clint still has his reservations. Meanwhile, Wanda and Carol commiserate about the situation. This could have been a great time for them to talk about the troubles they’ve had with their powers but no. The team heads to Project: Pegasus and searches the Squadron’s living quarters for any clue. This is, of course, the worst possible moment for the Squadron to return. Another fight breaks out. During the fight, Wanda again wonders about her changing powers: she can somehow tap into magic even though she’s had only a small about to training in it. After the fight, Cap and Carol quarrel. Again.

Like in the previous issue, there are great small moments in this issue too: the Vision explaining how the publics suspicious response is logical with Skrulls and other impersonators running around. The Cap/Hawkeye and Carol/Wanda moments mentioned above. Carol also gets the Avengers into the Project in a great way.

The Squadron storyline concludes in the Annual, which I don’t have.

The next issue is the final part in a four part cross-over, Live Kree or Die. I don’t have the other issues but there’s a good summary. The Kree Lunatic Legion wants to change all of humanity into Kree. To do that, they’ve stolen a prototype power generator and they’ve captured Warbird whose human/Kree genetic mix they’ve used to fire up the generator. Warbird was apparently drunk which allowed the Kree to capture her. She managed to escape though. However, the Kree Supreme Intelligence doesn’t seem happy with the Legion’s plans.

The Court Martial of Carol Danvers, issue 7, starts with the court martial where the active Avengers, plus Quicksilver, accuse Carol of alcoholism, reckless behavior, and deliberately not telling them about her power level decrease. Carol quits. The Avengers get a message that the Lunatic Legion is on the Blue side of the Moon and preparing to use their weapon. The active Avengers, Quicksilver, Justice, and Firebird race to the space Quinjet and to the Moon.

A huge battle ensues on the Moon. However, the Kree are only delaying the Avengers while they power up their weapon.

Wanda worries about Carol and thinks about the friendship. Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen them interact differently than with any other Avengers and the rest of the team don’t seem broken up about her leaving. This time Wanda summons Simon (briefly) by just thinking about him and later has doubts about summoning him just for battle. Justice is really excited about fighting alongside the Avengers and we find out about Angel’s health problems. When she uses her powers on a high level, she risks radiation poisoning. Meanwhile, Carol tries to fly to the Moon under her own power and fails.

This is a fine wrap-up issue for the story line and also for Carol’s story line, for now. I didn’t like that she left the Avengers but it was great that she had a, well, gender-neural story line.

Next we have two stories that take up two issues. In issue 8, Turbulence, Moses Magnum is the threat and we’re introduced to two new characters. Jarvis is on the airport meeting a young girl from Costa Verde whom he’s been sponsoring for years. Unfortunately, that’s the same day when armed men and a shape shifting woman, called Silverclaw, terrorize the airport. However, Jarvis manages to call the Avengers for help. Cap, the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Justice, and Firestar answer the call. They are imprisoned but get help from a new hero, Triathlon. When Magnum and his goons escape, Triathlon hides on their airplane.

Again, we’re treated with small character moments. Angel and Vance get their new costumes and Angel is less than thrilled about how revealing her costume is. Cap also gets a new energy shield and Wanda get a new gypsy type costume (although I’m not convinced that wearing a full length skirt into battle is very smart). I liked Vance’s new costume although I’m not thrilled about it. However, I liked Angel’s previous costume and wasn’t convinced she really needed a new one. But I really liked her attitude towards the new one and how she modified it.

Wanda is still thinking hard about her changing powers and wants to get some answers about why they are changing and why she’s able to summon Simon. During the battle, both Wanda and Clint follow Cap’s orders but they aren’t happy about it. After all, both have been team leaders before. The issue ends with Wanda again summoning Simon and apparently having sex with him. In the finest soap opera tradition, Vision is just then sneaking into in her room. I actually thought his skulking around to be pretty creepy and unbecoming for an Avenger.

Silverclaw turns out to be a victim of blackmail. She’s really quite a sweet girl and the Avengers don’t press charges.

In the next issue, The Villain Who Fell from Grace with the Earth, the Avengers get a call for help from Triathlon. Magnum and his goons are on a floating resort and planning something really big. The Avengers agree to help. Some of them swim to the big ship and others infiltrate it by pretending to be paying guests. Triathlon and Hawkeye team up and we hear Triathlon’s origin story. Again, Wanda is reluctant to summon Simon just for battle and she uses her changed powers to block Magnum’s energies. The mystery around Simon deepens; when Wanda is knocked unconscious, Simon returns to pummel her attacker. (And is anyone still in the dark about why this is happening? ;))

The issue ends with somewhat bleaker note. Wanda is determined to get answers, even if she has to leave the Avengers to do it and Hawkeye leaves with just a note on the door.

Great, small moments: Hawkeye continues to keep an eye out for Justice and Firestar, and he’s over all in a teacher mode which is a far cry from the rebellious ex-criminal he used to be. The issue starts with a breakfast scene where Silverclaw again apologies to Jarvis about her attack last issue. On the continuing soap opera side, Jarvis comments on how lovely Wanda looks and Vision is distracted by watching Wanda. You’d think he would have learned by now to say something before it’s too late?

Next issue, “Pom and Pageantry” starts with NY celebrating Avengers day. There’s a parade where Cap, Justice, Firestar, Vision, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and Giant Man ride on a float with the city council and two commentators walk us through Avengers history: members, villains, and the dead. Meanwhile, Wanda returns to her old mentor, Agatha Harkness, and asks her for help. Agatha has some explanations and revelations about Wanda’s powers and her ability to summon Simon. Then, the Grim Reaper attacks the Avengers and with him are the dead members, including Simon. The Reaper has twisted them into hating the Avengers and so the battle is joined. The Reaper makes a force field around the team and the other heroes rush in to try to break it.

I liked this issue a lot. On a reread, I wasn’t thrilled about the Wanda/Vision/Simon thing, especially when I remember how it (wasn’t) resolved. However, here we finally get answers to Wanda’s situation which was great.

This is also a celebration issue of Avengers’ history which isn’t really friendly to new readers. Every Avengers ever is shown again either in the montage pages or in balloons and costumes the people are wearing. I giggled at the Jarvis balloon! Considering how much misery and mistrust has been directed at the team over the years, they more than deserve a bit of celebration. We also get to see glimpses of Spider-Man and Daredevil as they swing by, and the X-Men and the Hulk follow the parade on TV which was a nice touch. For some reason I also really enjoyed the two commentators, the Stunt Master and Chili Storm. It was really endearing to see the spectators dressed up as the various heroes. Once again, the panels are full of details. I’m amazed at how well Perez does that.

Initially, I was happy that Wanda’s powers were expanded from the smallish, and rather ill-defined, probability hexes to chaos magic which can have power over all of nature. As it turned out, the writers apparently considered her too powerful. And that might be true in the comic book world where no-one dies permanently and all superpowers are non-lethal to begin with. Also, this makes her backstory even more convoluted which isn’t a good thing.

Issue 11 “… Always an Avenger!” starts with Wanda returning to the Mansion mulling over Harkness’ explanation. According to her, Wanda is able to summon Simon because he loves her more than life and is his anchor to the land of the living. In order to bring him permanently back, “all” she has to do love him back. Wanda isn’t convinced (and if she doesn’t love him, that’s pretty much impossible to do, anyway…). However, the dead Avengers assault her in the mansion and take her captive. Meanwhile, other NY heroes are trying to get inside the force field where the Grim Reaper is torturing the Avengers with his monologue about days past and how he has been wronged and this is his revenge. Over at the mansion, Wanda uses her powers to rekindle the former Avengers’ true selves.

Simon’s problems come to a head in this issue and that’s another long storyline resolved, for now. This being a continuing comic, nobody is happy in the long run. 🙂 The Grim Reaper and Wonder Man issue was handled nicely, with the twisted family feeling they have going on. Wanda also acknowledges that the Vision and Simon’ personalities are very similar, since they are based on the same brain patterns.

Over all, this as a very good collection with more (if minor) character development and power changes than is usual in a long-running comic. In fact, it reminds me a bit of Claremont’s long X-Men run which I really enjoyed, except that the Avengers don’t really change as much; rather they have difficulty taking up old roles. Clint and Wanda have both been team leaders and they chafe a little under Cap’s command. Some of the characters obviously have their own comics so they can’t really change but even the characters who don’t have, change only a little. Overall, there wasn’t a life threatening danger for them, rather the issues feel like light adventure (again, not a complaint, but an observation – not every issue can have a life threatening danger! Well, unless you are an X-Man under Claremont. 🙂 ). All of the characters are established ones and there’s no serious threat of them dying, although they can leave the team, of course, and the Vision has been under repairs for most of the arch.

Overall I really liked all the nods to the team and character histories. While the team had a fixed roster there where new and old characters coming and going which is part of the charm of the team book like Avengers. (Bendis, take note: this is the way to introduce new team member candidates – not just declaring them new members.) Another classic, if somewhat frustrating aspect for me, is the changing mood of the public. One issue they are adoring Avengers as their heroes and in the next issue they suspect that the Avengers are impostors. Ah, the changing human mood! Bickering! Cap and Hawkeye at odds! Wonder Man coming back from the dead was another treat to old fans.

Can’t wait for the Ultron issues in the next collection!

Issue 11 also provides conclusions to many long-running mysteries so it’s a good issue to end the collection.

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