People are still reading this series? It hasn’t been cancelled yet? And Mark “How do you do, fellow kids” Waid is still writing this? This is actually really newsworthy to me. Guess I have some catching up to do.
Avengers (2016) #3-6
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Mike Del Mundo
Colors: Mike Del Mundo with Marco d’Alfonso
Editor: Tom Breevort and Alanna Smith
Using the time harness, Wasp goes with baby Kang to try and undo the time paradox. As the Avengers try and hold off multiple versions of him, Kang and Scarlet Centurion pursue Nadia. The Priests of Pama (I don’t know) insist that Nadia give the baby Kang to them to toss it into the Flame of Pama (I really don’t know, it’s all confusing to me) to reseal the timeline, saving billions. Instead, Nadia refuses, declaring it the jobs of Avengers to protect the innocent, of which Kang is one. She then enters the flame herself and drags the other Avengers in as well, restoring them from Kang killing them as babies. They feed Kang to the Priests of Kama (Good guys tactic!) and return Baby Kang to where he belongs, fixing the timeline. Cap decides that he has a plan to take down Kang without breaking time (Is that even possible?) and asks who’s in. (Does it involve going back in time to save Harambe?)
Basically, one giant and over-complicated explanation of Kang’s origin (As far as I can tell, it’s just splash pages and double-page spreads) which culminates in the Avengers of multiple eras arriving at his doorstep.
The Avengers are joined by Vision’s future counterpart, who has the other end of a Time Tether, which they will use to teleport Time Bombs into Kang’s fortress. Cap goes over his plan; to use the timestream to recruit multiple incarnations of the Avengers to take out Kang. Using the Fantastic Four’s time machine in the Baxter Building’s basement (Because that’s pretty convenient for the plot. Reads like a Waid plot.) they gather the original five and the 1980s era of the Avengers to split up. Spider-Man, Cap, Hercules, Black Knight and Hulk head off to Egypt, the two Thors, Giant Man, Captain Monica Marvel and Wasp head to Sacniaa, and Iron Man, SteveCap, She-Hulk, Namor and Nadia head to future North America, where Cap (Or another one? I dunno, I’m confused) is captured and interrogated before the current era of Kang the Conqueror.
The combined Avengers teams set to work. Though initially set back, they manage to take out both Kang’s weapons cache and his financial empire. (Because controlling time and space requires having control of the banks? I guess Kang has to run on Back to the Future Pt. 2 Logic.) As they route Kang and break into his foretress, it’s revealed that Immortus and Scarlet Centurion, as well as Doctor Doom (What?!) are all future versions of Kang, and they begin wrecking the Avengers teams. In response to Janet Wasp being removed from time (I think, everybody just uses beams now and it’s hard to tell what is what) Giant-Man uses a MacGuffin to rewrite time and Future Vision sends everybody back to their proper time and everything’s hunky-dory, only for something regarding Avenger X) to appear below deck. (Read the .1 issues and find out for me. I could literally care less.)
What an absolute trainwreck.
Not just as a Spider-centric review, but as an Avengers comic.
Waid seriously dropped the ball on this one, to the point where I had a hard time reading this, and had to go back and read three more times just to figure out what was going on.
Let’s just get this over with.
First off, the plot for the last four issues of this storyline make almost no sense. As somebody who runs on Back to the Future for my time travel stories, I know very little about time travel in media. For assistance regarding understanding the time travel in this arc, I turned to my Doctor Whovian girlfriend, who had this to say. This is word-for-word what she said when I asked her to help me understand what was going on.
Neil: Hey, can you help me with this comic? There’s some time travel crap in here and I’m hoping you can figure it out for me.
GF: Sure thing.
[Time passes as she reads Avengers #1-6, and she hands me back my floppies.]
GF: Honey, I love you, but this is why people don’t take comics seriously.
This is 100% legit. If even your time-travel know-it-all girlfriend can’t figure out how time travel works in this comic, we have some serious problems. Time travel, from what she could decipher, works according to how the plot demands it. At one point it’s extraordinarily linear, at another it’s a loop, and at yet another point it acts like a can phone on a string with multiple other phones along the line. It’s really inconsistent, and as somebody who appreciates consistency and continuity within a comic (See my reviews of the Slott Spider-Not-Epic) it really frustrates me. Not to mention how everything wraps up a little too cleanly, with everything just going back to normal as if absolutely nothing happened. Issue #4 also completely derails any sense of pacing that the arc had, doing a rather unnecessary exposition regarding Kang’s origin, which also isn’t helped by the fact that this plot is, according to my sources, a continuation of events from All-New All-Different Avengers, which would explain a lot about why so much of it seems to be playing catch-up.
Waid’s writing isn’t helped by how absolutely crap the page composition for Del Mundo’s art is. I’ve seen Del Mundo’s art before, and he’s pretty damn good. (I even almost bought his variant cover for RYV #1) But his page composition and coloring is all over the place, where things are jammed into panels far too small to accommodate what they’re trying to put in, and makes a lot of the action very hard to follow. I’ve made this point multiple times in previous Avengers reviews, and it applies here as well. Mundo’s a good artist to be sure, but he doesn’t belong on a flagship title, more like a B-title.
Spider-Man’s involvement is very lackluster, to say the least, to the point where his only purpose is just to crack jokes, a role that anybody in this extraordinarily quippy book could have done. That said, there’s one tiny scene where Peter shows off his brilliance when he’s in Egypt, being able to deduce the elements of what they’re looking at and how to disarm it. It’s moments like this that make me wish Spider-Man had a more prominent role as the team’s brains that he kind of shares with Nadia, but I’m worried he’ll be even more overshadowed by Iron Doom coming next issue.
The first two issues of this arc weren’t bad, but once they take on a much larger structure, it becomes a lot more convoluted and harder to understand. The cluttered art doesn’t help, and neither does the almost completely exposition-filled dialogue. Here’s to hoping that Phil Noto and the Infamous Iron Man can turn around the next arc.
Avengers Grade: C-