Current Reviews


Avengers #80 [Shawn H.]

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2004
By: Shawn Hill

“Lionheart of Avalon part 4”

Writer: Chuck Austen
Artists: Olivier Coipel (p), Andy Lanning (i)

Publisher: Marvel

Kelsey Leigh, “heroic parent” to two orphaned children, has died from injuries sustained trying to protect Cap’n America from Thunderball. But this is a comic book, and death doesn’t have to be end. On England’s astral plane, she is presented with a compelling choice by two familiar faces.

Another strong issue of Austen’s surprisingly good Avengers tale. It may be formulaic (as Wrecking Crew stories often are), but I’m enjoying the ride as we continue to set up the new Invaders story (I presume) while reviving bits and pieces of the Excalibur myth as well. I wasn’t aware that Megan and Brian had passed beyond the veil, but apparently they have as they now stand in for old sages Merlin and Satyrn-9 when it comes to handing out the Captain Britain power-ups.

Was anybody surprised that this is where Kelsey’s story was heading? The whole point of escapist fiction like this is the fantasy of the will-to-power. In superhero mythology, Kelsey has earned her place among the meta-powered by her selfless act, even as she’s ruined her own happiness and denied future contact with her children. The only part that makes me antsy about this is not knowing whether her Cap’n Brit version is long for the world. I’d hate it just to be a plot point for this story, not to be developed further with her inheriting this new mantle for real. She’s a noble and inspiring woman.

As Kelsey goes after Thunderball, the rest of the Avengers face the rest of the Wrecking Crew. Jan’s new use of the bi-directional growth powers may be rendering her unstable just as it did Hank, as she flies off the handle and takes on a Quinjet all on her lonesome. Wanda and Tony struggle to keep up, and contribute positively to the battle, with Wanda surprising both herself and the Crew with a subtle use of her powers.

Coipel draws a great Witch, and it’s interesting that the writing for her has retreated from the “chaos magick” explanation offered by Busiek and returned to the more traditional probability-altering weird science of her mutant side. I think it’s better for the character, as her mutant side certainly doesn’t invalidate her occult experience, and can actually enhance it.

Which looks like what’s happening at the end of the book, as the mysterious foe manipulating the Wrecking Crew (Morgana?) whisks away friend and foe alike for a presumed mystical conflict in the final issue. Unlike his shoddy work on the X-men, which has veered from the histrionic to the improbable, seldom settling on anything resembling the characters we’ve long known, Austen proves adept here at dealing with the big guns of Marvel in a bombastic, dramatic way.

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