Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Greg Land & Frank D’Armata
Variant Cover: Steve Epting
Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
THE STORY: Cortex Industries CEO Jason Quantrell wants to harness what’s going on in Inhumanity for corporate gain, so he sends his newly Inhuman-powered corporate spy, Quickfire, to infiltrate Attilan (which is currently in the Hudson River thanks to comic books that aren’t this one). Meanwhile, the Mighty Avengers are setting up headquarters at the Gem Theater, and the Superior Spider-Douche is throwing his usual insults, demanding that there needs to be a leadership change (before he leaves to go battle The Looter). Falcon joins the team while maintaining his position on the main Avengers team as well. Spider Hero (who is now wearing a black leather trench coat and in a room surrounded by blades…) mystically communicates with Kaluu (the guy that taught Dr. Strange black magic) about his search for the Deathwalkers, and Kaluu feels a disturbance in the force coming from Attilan. Speaking of Attilan, the guy guarding it seems intent on keeping it in the Hudson until his dark masters or whatever have finished their business, and creepy eyes peer out of the darkness as Quickfire goes in. Spider Hero asks for a team to go break into Attilan as well, and Luke Cage finally has the idea to give him the Ronin costume to replace that terrible Spider Hero business. Spider Hero is, from now on, Ronin – wearing that same black leather trench coat. As he, Falcon, Spectrum, White Tiger, and Power Man depart, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are faced with the Superior Jerk-Face, who has returned with his huge spider robot and some spider minions to demand leadership of the team.
MY THOUGHTS: For what is basically a transitional/set-up issue (all talk, no fights), this was a surprisingly enjoyable installment and as you can see from the story summary, kind of a lot happened. It’s nice to see this series can handle an issue like this so well, too, when most of what we saw in the first 3 issues was fighting.
Something I’ve got to ask is – even if you’ve still managed to avoid the now months-old spoiler online (and I still won’t say it here if you’re trying to wait until the comic reveals it), is there anybody that still doesn’t know who Spider Hero/Ronin is after this issue? Even Luke says, “You know, if you don’t want folks knowing who you are, you need to stop wearing the same nasty-ass coat every day.” I just assumed when we had the identity switch from Spider Hero to Ronin, as we did in this issue, that we’d finally get to see his face. But still he is being treated as the man of mystery. I have to admit, in an otherwise solid book, I find this choice baffling. With a book that is going to have to try hard to fight for readership in a market already crowded with Avengers books, wouldn’t it make sense to appeal to all the fans and potential readers you can? Why not let this character’s fans know he’s in the book so they’ll buy it? Even if he only has 5,000 fans (which is, of course, an incredibly low estimate), couldn’t this book benefit from 5,000 more readers? Especially when this particular character is really from a different segment of the Marvel Universe than the rest of them (as you already know even if you don’t know the spoiler – he’s been shown to be someone in the supernatural world in the book) it may very well be that he has plenty of fans who wouldn’t otherwise look at a Mighty Avengers book. And I can say from personal experience that I had decided to drop this book after #2 (not because it was bad, just for monetary reasons) until Brad Douglas texted me about the identity spoiler. I went from not planning to try anymore issues to calling my comic shop to pull the series for me. And where there’s one person like that, there are surely more, and probably plenty who haven’t seen the spoiler. I’m going on too long about it at this point, but the bottom line is: we’re past the point where it’s a compelling mystery. It’s becoming either obvious or annoying to those who are reading, and the only real effect it’s having is to fail to draw in readers who could otherwise be supporting a new series that needs it.
But on the whole, as I said, this was a very strong issue. There were lots of good moments for several characters, not least of which is The Falcon who gets to declare a little bit of individuality here. Everyone assumes his presence has something to do with Captain America or maybe that he’s there with his Avengers teammate Spider-Man. And in response he gets the excellent line, “My name is not ‘and the Falcon.'” It’s a good statement on a character who is respected and yet mostly seen as a team-up or Captain America’s sometimes sidekick. I look forward to seeing more of him in this book if Ewing intends to help him forge more of his own path.
The Jones-Cage family also gets some nice bits in here, especially for baby Danielle whose baby talk Al Ewing writes in a wonderfully amusing way. But it’s also nice to see Luke very comfortable in his leadership position (and, as his caption says, “Dresses the part”). He seems committed to leading this team rather than going out in the field, which is an interesting goal, but we already see by the end of the issue that a fight’s coming to him so we won’t have Cage completely removed from action scenes in this series going forward. And, before we leave the Jones-Cage’s, I have to call out my favorite bit in the whole issue, and what the heck, I’ll just quote the whole thing:
Jessica: You’re on the POWER COUCH tonight.
Baby Danielle: Pow Cow!
Jessica: See, baby agrees with me.
Luke: That was a SOUND EFFECT and a FARM ANIMAL.
Keep writing them like that, Mr. Ewing, and I’ll be a happy reader. “Power Couch” just cracked me right up and I couldn’t stop laughing as those four lines continued.
It looks like Ewing’s in the business of making old fans happy as well, as we get the Gem Theater as the team headquarters and an appearance by Dave Griffith. Now, not being the Luke Cage historian our friend George Berryman is, I did not know these off the top of my head and had to look them up. And it turns out the theater itself is a well established location for Cage, and Dave Griffith is indeed an old friend (and owner of the theater) having appearances under his belt in issues of Hero for Hire, Heroes for Hire, Power Man, Power Man and Iron Fist, and Cage, among others. So points to Ewing for knowing and respecting his Luke Cage history!
I think we can now officially say this is the book that features the absolute douchiest version of Octo-Spidey out there. I mean he’s a jerk everywhere, but Mighty Avengers really makes you respect the other characters more and more with every passing page for having the self-restraint not to beat the living hell out of him (restraint which looks like it’ll be over next issue, thankfully). It’s so bad that when Spectrum tells Falcon she thought he was with Spidey, Falcon responds, “OH no. No no no. HELL no. Nobody is ‘with’ that guy. He said he was going to see your new HQ. I figured I’d tag along. That’s all. We are NOT friends. The dude steals food from the kitchen and SPITS in it.” It’s interesting that this book actually devotes several panels to heroes noticing the change in Spider-Man, when the Avengers in his actual book take an attitude of, “Eh, we’re not really sure how to read these tests, but you seem fine. Just try not to kill any more people.” It’s odd for me to hope Spider-Man LOSES a fight with the Avengers, but since it’s really Dr. Octopus I can admit it – I’m hoping to see him get absolutely stomped next issue. Just the cover of him getting punched so hard his lens breaks makes me all warm and fuzzy.
GRADE: B+ A solid issue that suggests that the series really can have a life beyond event tie-ins.