“No Single Hero“
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Greg Land & Frank D’Armata
Variant Cover: Ron Wimberly
Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
THE STORY: Shuma-Gorath! Tentacles attack! Blue Marvel arrives on the scene and flies just right the hell through Shuma-Gorath’s huge eye. This seems to bring it down, but Spider Hero warns that this physical manifestation is just a small part of it, and it will revive soon. Before that happens, though, Blue Marvel is recruited to help Spectrum (who’s still on the road to dying from Proxima Midnight’s spear last issue), and not only does he heal her, he actually powers her up even more. But Shuma-Gorath awakens as advertised and starts taking over the surrounding humans with tentacles sprouting from their mouths. EEEEEWWWW! Just then Power Man and White Tiger arrive on the scene, and Luke Cage and Spider Hero form a plan. Power Man feeds his power (the chi of New York) into the tiger god inside White Tiger, unleashing the tiger god to fight Shuma-Gorath’s astral form. With that astral form beaten, Spectrum turns to light to fly into the physical form through it’s eye and blows it right up. With the villain defeated Kat Farrell wants a comment, and Luke and Monica dub this team-up an Avengers team.
MY THOUGHTS: This issue definitely has some major things going for it, but unfortunately overall this is one of the rare ones that I find I thought a lot less of on a second read than I did initially.
Let’s start with what I liked. Last issue we were introduced to Adam Brashear aka The Blue Marvel in a couple of dialogue pages, so this issue is the first where we get to see him in action and he does not disappoint. When we first see him fly through the giant monster, the display of flight and strength invokes the idea that he’s going to be the Superman/Sentry/Hyperion archetype of this team. But then pretty immediately we see the highly intelligent side of him, exemplified by the fact that even the Superior Spider-Man says he’s a fan of Adam’s work (calling it “almost up to MY standard”). The ‘almost’ is what makes him Otto, but the fact that he gave out praise at all speaks volumes of Adam’s work. We’re also then shown some of his more scientific based powers in that he is said to be his own electron microscope and he has anti-matter projection abilities. Put all this together and it’s a very thorough introduction to the character’s abilities and quickly sets him apart from the archetype mentioned above. The Blue Marvel would seem to be almost a hybrid of Superman and Hank Pym, and I don’t have to tell you how valuable that would make him to an Avengers team.
Then there’s White Tiger and Power Man getting into the mix. They are very well handled this issue from their opening scene together talking about a meaningful death vs. a meaningful life to the melding of their powers to bring down Shuma-Gorath. I found that an exceptionally good introduction to both of their powers and they really seem to work well together, giving them a good reason to serve on the same team. It is also, in my opinion, a cool moment when Power Man calls them the Mighty Avengers, owing to them having their own hashtag trending on Twitter. Some may roll their eyes at that, hating all things Twitter and hashtags, but frankly it’s a very realistic thing to happen in this day and age and you need to realize and accept that it’s your own personal hangup if that bothers you.
And as Spider-Man fans currently under the regime of Otto Octavius, ever the dick to everyone, who couldn’t love the moment when Spider Hero finally steps right in his face refusing to take his crap? It’s about time someone did. And considering the identity spoiler that’s out there (feel free to google if you want to be spoiled), it certainly makes sense. Frankly Otto’s lucky he doesn’t get a swift knee to the tic tacs from this guy. Considering it seems these two gentlemen are going to be on this team together on an ongoing basis, it should be interesting to see how this relationship plays out. I could easily see an all-out physical fight brewing eventually between the two.
Now, given those pros, where is it that the issue fell down for me, particularly on a second read? It’s hard to say, but I think it boils down to big tentacle monster villain. The biggest thing that had me saying “Ugh” was when tentacles started sprouting out of people’s mouths – I guess that’s just unsettling in a way I wasn’t really up for. But I think in general Shuma-Gorath just doesn’t come off as the right villain in this instance. It’s a very Dr. Strange kind of villain where we don’t have Dr. Strange on the team (he is, again, barely touched on here) and while it does give the opportunity to learn that Spider Hero has experience with the supernatural, it just feels like a strange fit for the rest of the members of this team. Having Luke Cage and Spider-Man standing around while others have to deal with a villain who is primarily on the astral plane seems like a bit of a waste, even if it does provide a good showcase of White Tiger and Power Man’s powers. And that is great for those two, but you don’t have Luke and Spider-Man as prominent members of your team and then not use them. Heck, at least Luke comes up with the plan. Spidey’s pretty much useless in this fight.
The best part of the issue for me, though, is the ending. Much like Luke had a great moment last issue with the crowd yelling “Avengers Assemble,” he has another great one this issue when he gives a speech to the crowd about what it means to be an Avenger, and why everyone assembled there is an Avenger. It’s a great piece of cement in a series of moments that have been justifying this as an Avengers team, starting right from the end of issue 1 when Luke declares to the bad guy “We ARE The Avengers.” As I’ve said before, identity is important for a book like this when there are so many choices of Avengers books right now, and Ewing seems to be demonstrating how much he understands that with every issue.
GRADE: B- Again there are several really great moments in this issue, but the overall weirdness of the villain choice permeated the read for me and brought down the general enjoyment of the issue.