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Avengers #80

Posted: Saturday, March 27, 2004
By: Ray Tate



"Lionheart of Avalon"--Part Four

Writer: Chuck Austen
Artists: Olivier Coipel(p), Andy Lanning(i), Chris Sotomeyer(c)
Publisher: Marvel

As impressive as his premiere issue of The Avengers, Chuck Austen pulls up from the nose-dive that his uninvolving performance last issue seemed to herald. This fourth installment dazzles with excitement, novelty, humor and a superb use of continuity.

Kelsey still very much dead finds herself on a hillock guarded by stone travellers--think Stonehenge. Here she is given two choices. She may return to life by making the second choice, which is between wearing an amulet or drawing a sword.

Let me explain just how brilliant this scene happens to be. If you do not know about Captain Britain, you still would be able to comprehend the entire setup thanks to the resonance of Arthurian legend and an impressive command Mr. Austen has over dialogue. If you do know about Captain Britain, then you will think you known what will happen only to be surprised, doubly so when the scene ends.

While the Avengers is ostensibly about the transformation of a hero, Austen does not overlook the villains or the title heroes. Humor from broken-nose dialogue keeps the villains' interaction jocular. The scenes of the Avengers begin with a dead calm; Wasp once more--yawn--whines about her issues with Hank. The calm quickly explodes with the dynamic action of Olivier Coipel: thankfully back from tea.

Powerful and witty dialogue abounds in these scenes. Wasp's demands are so astonishingly different from her tiny origins, but Austen makes her sound in character. Mr. Austen gives Scarlet Witch a sly sense of humor that suits everything about her including the vulpine look Mr. Coipel bestows to her. Again, Mr. Austen creates another scene depicting of the proper use of Wanda's power. Though schooled in the occult by Agatha Harkness, the root of Wanda's power is the mutant ability to alter probabilities, and that as seen is scary enough.

I keep hearing bad things about Mr. Austen's writing ability, but what I see in The Avengers is fun, verve and women whose power equals if not betters their male teammates. That's exactly what I'm looking for in a comic book.



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