Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Patrick Zircher (p), Scott Koblish (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens at the Avengers Mansion where we find Warbird is on trial for killing the Master, and after she makes it quite clear that she feels she is deserving of punishment, we see the Avengers disagree, and after a brief deliberation Carol's actions are written off a justifiable homicide. The book then looks in on Triathlon, as we see him pay a visit to Peggy Chandler, wife of the original 3-D Man, and we see the young hero is able to separate himself into three, restoring the two previous versions of 3-D Man to life, and leave behind an overjoyed Peggy who has been given back her husband & brother-in-law. The book the looks in on Iron Man as he's in conversation with the brother of the late Duane Freeman, the Avenger's liaison who was in Washington D.C. when it was destroyed by Kang, and we see Iron Man confesses that he was unnecessarily cruel to the man before his death. However, we see Duane Freeman understood why Iron Man was acting the way he did, and Iron Man finds some solace in this knowledge. We also see that Thor's concerns about befriending short-lived mortals are resolved.
Given the sheer scope of the Kang story I understand why Kurt Busiek needed this issue to tie up the loose ends that had been left behind, and he does a pretty nice job wrapping up the various threads, from Warbird's murder of the Master, to the situation with Triathlon. Now the Warbird murder hearing does have itself a rather odd festive finish, and the idea that villains like the Master are always returning from the dead should have been mentioned, but from a storytelling standpoint I'm glad to see this situation resolved before Kurt Busiek left the book. As for the Triathlon situation I've never been as enamored with this character as Kurt Busiek seemed to be, nor was I all that familiar with the 3-D Man, so this scene didn't really grab my interest, until it reached the part where Triathlon mentioned he still had his powers, and was returning to the Avengers. Now that all the plot elements involving the character have seemingly been resolved, I must admit I'm not sure what he can bring to the book. However his fairly lower tier powers do hold a certain attraction, as I've always been a fan of the lesser powered heroes.
I must admit that it took me a moment to figure out where I knew the character Duane Freeman from, though I'm sure that if I went back over the issues since he was introduced, I'd see that character played a fairly key role in several stories. However, unlike former Avenger liaison Henry Peter Gyrich, the late Duane Freeman never really made much of an impression upon me. Still this doesn't make him unworthy of the attention the character receives in this issue, as his death creates an interesting scene where Iron Man finds himself dealing with the guilt of his rather abrasive behavior toward the man before his death. Duane Freeman's death also acts as a means to get the Avengers to that emotionally powerful final scene, where we see that unlike most big event stories, the losses suffered during the war with Kang are not going to be reversed, or set right using some temporal quick-fix solution. In fact this issue does a fairly nice job balancing its celebratory tone, with the tremendous cost that the battle with Kang generated. Thor also gets himself a rather nifty speech that hopefully will keep him on the team.
Patrick Zircher's work looks a fair sight better over in the pages of the "Thunderbolts", but then again Al Vey strikes me as having a much finer touch when it comes to inking, so perhaps the reason why his guest-art on this issue didn't seem quite so impressive is due largely to Scott Koblish's heavier line-work. Now the art on this issue isn't bad, as the credit page shot of Warbird's murder hearing is well done, and the scene where Iron Man confesses the Duane's brother has a nice quiet dignity to it, as it had to be rather difficult to deliver such an expressive scene, when Iron Man is encased head to toe in armor. There's also a nice looking scene where Thor makes his arrival in the book, though the panel where he's shown to the reader does look like it was a one-page spread that had its top chopped off so they could make room for those two bottom panels. The art also does a pretty nice job delivering the little glimpses at the damage that was done, and how the rebuilding process is dealing with the damage. I also have to make mention of this issue's rather striking use of black & white on the cover.
This issue is an aftermath issue to the Kang War arc, and it busies itself with cleaning up any plot threads that were left dangling. Now there's nothing too unexpected in this issue, as one knew going in that Warbird wasn't going to be shown the door, and the 3-D Man mystery gets itself an obligatory happy ending. Kurt Busiek also takes the time to show us that while no Avengers died during the big fight, the team didn't emerged untouched, as a supporting player was killed in Washington D.C., and there's a fairly strong scene that deals with Iron Man's guilt over his treatment of this character. The book also acknowledges Washington D.C.'s destruction, but it does shy away from actually telling use how many people died in this tragedy, as it tries to play up a more optimistic tone involving the rebuilding of the city. In the end this issue acts as a nice finishing note to the whole affair, but I'm quite relieved to see that this is the final chapter.
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