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Avengers #58

Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Kieron Dwyer (p), Rick Remender (i)

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
The book opens with Captain America arriving to address the United Nations to officially place the Avengers in control of the entire planet, and keep the planet from erupting into chaos. We then look in on another group of Avengers who are investigating the energy barriers that have engulfed dozens of cities all around the world, and we see these anomalies are continuing to appear all across the planet. We then look in on Iron Man who we see has been given the task of keeping the world's economy from going off the rails, and we see Tony is able to convince the gathered financial ministers to hold tight until the Avengers can deal with this current crisis. We then look in on a cargo vessel off the coast of New York, which is about to be pulled into one of the energy barriers, but the timely arrival of Namor keeps this ship out of danger. It is here that we also learn that the oceans are being drained by these energy portals, and as such Namor is ready to join this fight. The book ends by taking us inside the energy barrier, there we see the missing cities have all been gathered together in a single location, and the party responsible is an old enemy of the Avengers.

Comments:
My biggest quibble with this issue is that while Geoff Johns has introduced a big idea, that has placed the Avengers in a fairly unique position, the simple fact of the matter is that watching the Avengers trying to run the world in an orderly fashion doesn't exactly make for the most riveting of reads. Sure it's a fresh spin on the typical Avengers adventure, as we see they have to quell the panic that stems from the event, rather than follow them as they deal with the threat itself. However, I can't ignore the fact that the scenes where we see part of the team investigating the energy barrier, and the closing scenes inside the energy field were the moments in this issue that held my interest. There's also a fairly impressive return of a former Avenger at the end of a sequence where a ship at sea is endangered by one of these energy portals. However, the scenes that look at Captain America dealing with the United Nations, and Tony Stark's bid to keep the European Union from coming apart are undone by their lack of any real hurdles for these two to overcome, as the story is almost too willing to present the idea that these two men have their respective groups eating out of the palms of their hands.

The one thing that Geoff Johns has done in his early issues on this book is shown he understands what makes these various characters work. I mean Captain America's little exchange with Henry Peter Gyrich is one that has been a long time coming and I'm sure longtime Avengers fans will be smiling after this scene. There's also a great little scene where Iron Man takes control of the turmoil that he saw building before him, by removing his mask & appealing to his reputation as one of the world's recognized finical geniuses, or at the very least his well deserved reputation for being able to claw his way out of the gutter. There's also a nice scene involving one of Marvel's oldest heroes, as Namor makes his return to these pages in a decidedly regal fashion. There's also Wanda's rather frightening situation, which makes itself a bit clearer in this issue, and the sequence in the final page where we see Hank & Janet are taking the situation in & we see they each have their on outlook on the situation, with Hank's being decidedly serious-minded. The only odd scene involving personalities is the tension between Ant-Man & Jack of Hearts, but I know so little about the latter that perhaps this hostile attitude is Jack of Hearts' regular personality.

Uneven is the word that best describes the art on this issue, as there's a great looking scene in this issue where Namor shows up to the party, and the last page of this issue is a great looking piece of art. There's also an impressive shot of Wanda caught in the grip of a frightening spell, and the shot of the world's city's all smooched together is a nice visual. However, the art also has it's moments that are a little off-putting, as when Iron Man's mask comes up, Tony looks absolutely awful, as does She-Hulk when we look in on her at 3:00 am. Now I realize that the art is likely trying of convey the idea that these two have been putting in long hours, but my problem with these scenes is that they make these two characters look ugly, not tired. There's also the rather sparsely detailed backgrounds, and the fact that the normally highly reliable Tom Smith seems to have left half his color palette at home, as this issue displays a limited selection of colors, and the ones it does use are decidedly garish in appearance. The art also doesn't really capture the grandeur of some of it's scenes, like Captain America's appearance before the United Nations, or the appearance of the energy portal in the middle of the ocean.

Final Word:
Not a bad issue, as the situation that Geoff Johns has set up is pretty interesting, and he does show a strong understanding of the various personalities that he's dealing with, with his Captain America being particularly impressive. However following on the heels of the Kang arc, I must admit that this current arc feels like a second visit to a well that Kurt Busiek had already drained dry, and truth be told I'm finding sections of this issue are rather dry reading, as there's not sense of excitement or conflict to spice up the scenes where the Avengers are working to control the situation. I mean I just would like to see the situation be a little more unsettled as while the Avengers are professionals, I find it difficult to believe that the more ambitious villains with dreams of global domination haven't made us of the chaos to further their own ends (e.g. Doctor Doom, the Red Skull).



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