Fatigue is kicking in, y’all. Trying to come up with witty things to say in this space is surprisingly hard. Like, after seeing this issue’s cover, I thought about asking who’s excited about the Avengers movie in May (Avengers Assemble for you U.K. readers—do I have any U.K. readers?), but that is such a dumb question. Everybody’s excited about the Avengers film. My friends and I have recently gone through every movie leading up to it in preparation. It’s gonna be great.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Daniel Acuña
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Renato Guedes
The Avengers: Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Steve Rogers), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Storm (Ororo T’Challa), Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), The Vision, The Protector (Noh-Varr), Red Hulk (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross), Jarvis, Quake (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Daisy Johnson)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
THE PLOT: H.A.M.M.E.R. and the United States government arrange a meeting at an undisclosed location. Madame Hydra, on behalf of Norman Osborn, demands that the Avengers be tried for their war crimes and that H.A.M.M.E.R. be promoted to world peacekeeping taskforce, with Osborn as leader. In return, she’ll release Captain America and the other Avengers in their custody. The President decidedly refuses, and Hydra commands her soldiers to hulk out, who then proceed to tear apart the U.S. forces.
At Avengers Mansion, the Vision recovers and attempts to catch up to Osborn, who’s fled the scene via flight. As he leaves, the federal government seizes control of the mansion [tying into New Avengers #21 and #22].
Back at H.A.M.M.E.R./A.I.M. labs, Quake arrives and starts bringing down the complex with her earthquake powers, freeing Spider-Woman and Red Hulk. They catch up to Iron Man and Storm, who have freed themselves and are questioning Dr. Carolina Washington. She informs them the rest are being held in the basement. The Avengers find Hawkeye badly beaten and are suddenly surrounded by Hand ninjas. Osborn then shows up with an unconscious Vision, declaring them enemies of the state and smugly begging them to resist his authority.
THOUGHTS: Initially, I was surprised by how good this issue was. Yes, this issue was good. You don’t believe me, so I’ll try my best to convey exactly why this issue works for me.
I really shouldn’t have been that surprised. This is the second-to-last issue in the arc, and Bendis arcs usually ramp up here. The opening scene with the meeting between Hydra and the government is really well done. She and her H.A.M.M.E.R. agents are perfectly unarmed, and the reveal that the agents can hulk out was something I didn’t see coming. ONE Hulk is already capable of shredding to pieces entire battalions, so imagine how devastating it ends up being for the armed forces to face up against at least TEN. Madame Hydra making Cap watch is a nice, albeit twisted, touch.
If Brian Bradley was reviewing this title, he’d probably nominate Quake for Most Valuable Avenger. And he’d be right. After finding out the location of the A.I.M. labs from some dude in New Jersey last issue, she single-handedly shuts down the complex and sets things in motion that will lead to the Avengers’ final confrontation with Osborn. Again, this shouldn’t be too surprising since Quake is a Bendis original character. Personally, I thought she pulled it off TOO easily.
It’s the escape sequence, however, that made the issue very enjoyable. The falling debris takes out a good chunk of the enemies. Carolina Washington gets up from the initial tremor only to find that Iron Man and Storm are standing right behind her in the dark (an absolutely fantastic-looking panel by Acuña, who’s back in this issue to do all the art chores). Quake finds every captured Avenger one by one, each helping out with his or her powers.
Let me tell you again: Daniel Acuña’s art is amazing, and I’m very much glad he’s back in this issue. I’ve commended him several times on the facial expressions he draws for the characters, and I can’t help but do it again for this issue. There are a lot of action scenes here that comes off really well too. In the latter part of the issue, the A.I.M. complex has lost power and only those red security lights are functioning. His coloring here looks really great and adds to the intensity.
The cover by Renato Guedes is pretty cool, too. As always, don’t expect the cover to actually reflect what happens within.
VERDICT: Avengers #23 is good. Good, dang it! If only every issue in this 7-part storyline was like this. 3.5 Webheads out of 5.
This is it, y’all. Only one more issue left.
~My Two Cents