Avengers #16 Review


Two-Bit Fears: Fear #4 – Dying “Final Destination” style.  Some of my favorite horror film series are the Final Destination films and the Saw films.  They both deal with people dying in horrendous and mortifying ways, but while the deaths in the latter film series are brought about by a holier-than-thou psychopath and his associates, the deaths in the former are dealt by Death itself, and they are usually inescapable fates.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I have a pretty good grasp on reality so that I don’t think stuff like in Final Destination actually happens… but if I still don’t wanna die in a gruesome and grotesque way (or hilarious, if it was like in the fourth movie).  I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all want to die from old age in our sleep.  Wouldn’t you?

Also, at least in Saw you could potentially survive if you have your wits about you and follow the rules.

Anyway, what?

Avengers #16

Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler:  John Romita, Jr.
Inkers:  Klaus Janson
Colorist:  Paul Mounts
Letterist:  VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, & Javier Rodriguez

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.  FOR REAL THIS TIME***

Plot:  Our final chapter (?) of the illustrated oral history of the Avengers focuses on Steve Rogers, who’s grieving from the death of Bucky Barnes at the hands of Sin.  Having picked up some secret intel that Sin might be hiding in a castle in Sweden, Steve Rogers puts together a team made up of himself, Sharon Carter,MariaHill, and Victoria Hand (“Roger’s Avenging Angels”), not wanting to raise suspicion by pulling the Avengers off the field.  The four reach the castle but are ambushed by Master Man and the Exiles, revealing all to be a setup.  After a brief battle between both forces, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Daisy Johnson (from Secret War) appears and uses her seismic powers to put an end to the fight, saving Roger’s team.  The issue ends withRogers(as Cap) too chocked up to continue the interview.

Thoughts:  The issue is a total mixed bag, but there are a lot of things to like with some nitpicks scattered all over.  Thus, this segment will follow suit with the good and the bad mixed together.

We thankfully have the final Avengers tie-in to Fear Itself, taking place once again between Fear Itself #3 and #4, but I gotta tell ya:  I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this issue.  While I’ve questioned before the necessity to have the Avengersflagship title relegated to the sidelines while the main action happens in the Fear Itself mini, in hindsight I see this arc as more of an “Untold Tales” of sorts to Fear Itself, filling in the gaps that I didn’t really think could be filled.

However, the reason I enjoyed this issue at all is the same reason I enjoyed the previous one:  it made me care about the main character, which in this case is Steve Rogers.  The first couple of pages are the Avengers talking about the qualities that make Steve the hero that he is, how he is somehow interconnected withAmerica.  Now he’s out to get even with Sin after what happened to Bucky, and when the whole mission turns out to be a wash, you can see how deeply affected he is by the whole thing.  The final scene withRogersis very evocative.  I’venever followed the adventures of CaptainAmericaas I have, say, Spider-Man, but this story made me very much invested in him, and that’s what I like about good comics.

I found that a lot of the things that were annoying in the previous issues, such as using the interviews as a framing device, actually aid the story this time around.  I already mentioned the Avengers giving their thoughts on Steve Rogers as a hero, which sets up the story nicely, but I also enjoyed the bit where Maria Hill gives you the rundown on how the mission was conceived.  One might question thewisdom of using 15 consecutive panels of Hill just talking to the camera (some might see it as lazy, so that JRJR wouldn’t have to draw the actual scenes), but I actually enjoyed how she delivers her account of the events, including her jabs atVictoriaHand and the thing about the Avenging Angels.

Speaking of JRJR, he does a pretty good job for the most part.  There are still some weird panels here and there, but the fight scenes are done well, and the close ups of the heroes look awesome.  Janson and Mounts complement him nicely, as well.  The cover looks okay.  It’s good but not great.

I don’t know much about Master Man or the Exiles, so I don’t know if their appearance here contradicts something somewhere else (as it usually happens when Bendis writes anything), but at least he covers that up pretty well when he has Maria Hill say that they weren’t sure either if they were the real deal.  It’s also good on him for bringing back Daisy Johnson (“Quake”) from Secret War.

Friendly-Neighborhood Spider-Moment:  Somehow, it’s a little weird that Spider-Man acknowledges the fact that he blames himself for everything that goes wrong, even the stuff he has no control over.  He mentions how Steve blames himself for Bucky’s death but gives him a pass because Spidey knows it was all the Red Skull, nothing Cap could do about it.

Verdict:  Easily the strongest of the four Fear Itself Avenger tie-ins and one that benefitted the most from this particular mode of storytelling.  It was a fun read with some great insight on CaptainAmerica.  3.5 Angels out of 5.

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~My Two Cents 

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