"Lionheart of Avalon": Part III
Writer: Chuck Austen
Artists: Sean Chen(p), Tom Simmons(i), Chris Sotomeyer(c)
This issue of the Avengers represents a very weak chapter in the otherwise memorable "Lionheart of Avalon." Part of the problem occurs because of a mid-story switch in artists. I liked Sean Chen's artwork on Iron Man during the Kurt Busiek era, but here it feels uninspired and looks a bit stiff. Olivier Copiel's artwork was much more expressive, and he better meshed with Chuck Austen. That said, this is likely a rushed job, and it's not bad for what it probably is. I also appreciate the continuity between the two artists. Chen actually bothered for instance to see what costume Olivier Copiel had designed for the Wasp. On the other hand, Chen's mimicry of the Copiel Captain America seems even more off than Copiel's beefy Lieutenant Marvel version.
The story could have done without this sagging chapter. It feels padded in all but a few sections, and the characters often behave out of sorts. Hawkeye does something strategically stupid that does not befit a hero of his experience. The Wasp's sole purpose seems to be to act indignant, and there was no real need to bring up Yellow Jacket's and the Wasp's past marital problems. This is especially true given that the blow-up just seems self-involved. There's a dead, innocent woman in the next room who saved two of your team. I think you can forgo your own egos for a moment.
The conversation between Cap and the dead woman's son is ridiculous. Mr. Austen seems to be attempting to show how machismo moderates human emotion. He does not support the concept. He is not saying men should not feel, but employing Captain America as the issue's representative was plain stupid. Captain America is a soldier. He is a World War II veteran, and one of his defining moments was the loss of Bucky Barnes. A character that has witnessed not just the loss of his partner Bucky but also millions of lives destroyed by the Axis would not behave in such a manner. All of these factors in the character's history would create a man with far more emotive comprehension than say a witless, surfer dude, which he appears to be emulating.
Given Mr. Austen's reputation, I report with some irony that the characters he best dialogues and directs with the exception of Jan for this issue are the female contingent of the Avengers. , his scenes between the She-Hulk and her namesake Jenny are sweet, charming and realistic; especially when considering the grim atmosphere. Austen gives the Scarlet Witch a very powerful moment, and although I do not accept Mr. Austen's characterization for the Captain, the moment with brevity gives the reader an inkling of Wanda's and Cap's shared history.
With a little editing most of the important instances in this issue of The Avengers could have been probably incorporated into the finale that has yet to come. As it stands, the third chapter is sadly wanting in depth and relevance.
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