Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Gary Frank(p), John Sibal(i), Tom Smith(c)
Geoff Johns has actually done some very decent work when trying to create friction among teammates. He generated much tension between the duo of the Star-Spangled Kid and STRIPE: step-daughter/step-father. He erected a strong enough wedge between Atom Smasher (Nuclon) and Black Adam: hero and reformed villain. He found a natural animosity between Captain Marvel and Black Adam: hero and former nemesis. He also brought forth the anti-love affair between Hawkman and Green Arrow: hero and jackass. In The Avengers Mr. Johns tries too hard to force a clash that simply doesn't make sense because it never existed.
With the Kid and STRIPE, Mr. Johns had a natural platform from which to work. Black Adam has been a villain for years in the pre-Crisis and post-Crisis universes as well as the Fawcett universe. The heroes especially Captain Marvel naturally would not so readily trust him. Hawkman and Green Arrow were enemies due to politics during the pre-Crisis glory days, but no such bouts like that occurred in the Marvel universe. Captain America and Iron Man were known to have their blowouts, but these heroes were ultimately friends. Spider-Man and the Torch maintained a friendly rivalry. Reed obviously grows nervous when Namor's anywhere within thirty feet of his wife, but even these men still respect each other; Namor was in fact instrumental in bringing Reed and Sue and therefore the whole team back together. There has never been in my recollection two heroes who hated each other in the Marvel Universe though Moondragon tends to get on everybody's nerves with her "I'm bald and superior to you attitude." Personally, I think she's overcompensating. If she just grew some hair she would probably be a lot more fun loving.
The entirety of this issue of the Avengers attempts to argue that there is a solid reason why Jack of Hearts and Ant-Man do not get along, but Geoff Johns makes a weak case. It's truly ridiculous, and the whole thing comes off looking like a contrivance, which is what it is. Jack of Hearts' reasoning--loosely speaking--is that Ant-Man is "riding somebody else's coat tails." Well, Jack that's an Avengers tradition. There have been two Red Guardians. Hawkeye became Giant-Man. Black Widow and Hawkeye, once villains, entered the Avengers largely due to Iron Man's influence. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver also reformed villains benefited from Captain America's influence. Vision and Wonder Man were essentially "brothers." Jocosta and Wasp are essentially "sisters." Black Panther is apparently a legacy hero like the Phantom.
Mr. Johns seems to know the history of the Avengers and has the other members vouch for Ant-Man's sincerity and bravery. The blindness in Jack of Hearts' viewpoint thus is purposeful, but it's a misguided rationale. Even Jack can't be this stupid. For a hell of a long time, he was Iron Man's protégé. Talk about "coat tails." Mr. Johns asks the reader to feel sorry for the cretin simply because he has a problem involving his biochemistry, but he's such an unlikable dope that you find it hard to sympathize. Ant-Man's problems while unbelievable at least would merit a sad feeling if they were not so obviously orchestrated to mismatch the consequences of the Jack of Hearts' situation. On the other hand, maybe this hatred is actually a clever disguise for the forbidden love each hero feels for the other. Marvel may intend to stealthily kick a B-level and C-level superhero out of the closet to capitalize on their one hundred year old dead gay gunslinger publicity. Seriously though, I wouldn't wish the Jack of Hearts on anybody except maybe Moondragon. Ant-Man can do much, much better.
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