Marvel Pick Of The Week – March 23, 2016 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

All-New All-Different Avengers 7, by Mark Waid and Adam Kubert

The last time this book made it to Pick Of The Week, The Vision had been corrupted by Kang and orchestrated Ms. Marvel’s expulsion from the team. This week, the team jumps into Avengers Standoff (recapped here!) but first, Mark Waid has to put some of his pieces back together.

The crossover part of this book is pretty standard stuff. Most of the team fights an obscure villain who tips them off to SHIELD’s reality-overwriting prison, Pleasant Hill, and when SHIELD Director Maria Hill comes to bring the bad guy back, they make her fly them to Connecticut in their Quinjet. When they see the Uncanny Avengers Unity Squad on the outskirts of town, Maria opens fire, leading to a brief scuffle between teams before everyone is captured. It’s the kind of Heroes-Fight-And-Then-They-Don’t-Fight thing we see at the beginning of a lot of crossovers, and Mark Waid does it well.

But what stands out is the attention to character that this writer has made into his trademark. To begin, before the action hits, Captain America and Thor have a serious talk – in the heat of battle, she kissed him, and then he learned that her life as Thor is killing the cancer-ridden human form she uses in her downtime. Their talk is a chance for Jane Foster to explain how important it is to her to help other people, even at cost of her life, and Sam Wilson gets to respond with maturity and discernment. He promises to keep her secret, but he calls her on her denial. If she’s serious about her motives, cool, but he suspects she’s trying to die a hero’s death, and though he respects her right to that, too, he has to make clear that he will not stand by if she’s suicidal. “You’re my friend.” These are adults, and they’re not going to agonize about what it meant that they kissed or what to do about secrets. They deal with their crap, they speak in direct terms. They value their friendship but don’t let it get in the way of their judgment. Jane is not a pity case – she’s awesome, and it sucks that she has cancer, but it’s more about diversity of body representation than pathos. Kubert’s art gives such life and expression to three pages of talking heads that I am willing to sacrifice another superhero battle to get this pair another cup of coffee.

Even better is the way Waid picks up the Ms. Marvel story. At this point, she knows The Vision was just programmed badly, but that doesn’t change how painful her memories are. He temporarily robbed her of her dream of being an Avenger, and she hasn’t yet worked through that. Waid’s solution is to let The Vision give her a peace offering, something so special and perfect for this enthusiastic fangirl that it brings tears to her eyes (and mine, too). And when Quicksilver and Rogue start fighting Ms. Marvel’s team, Nova has to tell her, “Stop sounding thrilled!” It’s so authentic to the beautiful character work Waid and G. Willow Wilson have been doing with this character in her team and solo books.

I love crossovers, and Avengers Standoff has been terrific, but Mark Waid has emphasized the heart of his team over the punches and lasers. This book has the feel of some of the best “Last Days” tie-ins of the Secret Wars summer event, telling relatable stories about people pulled into big events. This has been the best of the Avengers team books going into the crossover, and I have no doubt it will be even better on the other side.

(David Goodman was less excited about this book – read his reaction here!)

Honorable Mentions:

New Avengers 8, because Hawkeye is not wrong with his summary of SHIELD’s trajectory in the Marvel Universe.

Hyperion 1, because this scene of cars leaving a carnival to hunt Hyperion down? This is how you do a scary scene.

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat 4, because Patsy’s cute gay roommate has the opening song from the Legally Blonde musical as his ringtone and I do not care at all how stereotyped that is because I totally almost had that ringtone, too.

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