“Lionheart Of Avalon Part 4 of 5”
Writer: Chuck Austen
Artists: Olivier Coipel (p), Andy Lanning (i)
Well, this is better. I’m sure that part of the reason I’m looking on this more favourably than last issue is that Olivier Coipel and Andy Lanning are back on art duties. Sean Chen was a decent fill-in, but his art lacked the dynamism of Coipel’s work. So it looks better, which is a good start. Chuck Austen’s usual idiocy creeps in here and there, with Brian Braddock introducing himself as “Captain BRITAIN…protector of ENGLAND”, the Wrecking Crew, hardly the Marvel Universe’s most stealthy villains, escaping Avengers HQ without anyone noticing until they’re almost to a Quinjet, and the mysterious disappearance of half the cast since last issue. The Avengers are still being written as a bunch of incompetent amateurs, although in a surprising move, the female characters are portrayed in a positive light. The inane morality play style of the previous issue’s dialogue is thankfully gone, although Austen is still pushing the inappropriate and illogical Hank-Pym-is-a-wife-beater subplot in a bungled attempt to add some real-world relevance to this title. I also have to wonder why, four episodes into a five episode story, we have not only not been introduced to the main villain, but we also have been given no idea of what the villains of the story are attempting to achieve (I fully expect the Crew’s attack on the security van in an earlier issue to have no logical connection whatsoever to the apparently mystical nature of their mysterious master). This leads to a bizarre pacing and story structure when viewing the storyline as a whole, as those unfortunate enough to buy this as a TPB will find out. We’ll get four issues of the Earth’s Most Incompetent Heroes, a duel of poetry and a morality play concerning gender issues, then a final issue in which the main villain and grand plot are revealed and thwarted by our hapless heroes in the space of twenty pages. Cynical I may be, but I doubt Austen can pull off a satisfying finale to this mess. Frankly, I doubt Alan Moore could.
It’s not all bad though. The new Captain Britain has potential (although she is a woman, and so her destiny under Austen is likely to be ignominious), and the return to the original costume turns out better than might be expected. Furthermore, most of the issue is taken up with action scenes, which Coipel likes to illustrate with big space-wasting panels. As such, there’s a lot less room for Austen to be Austen, and that’s a very good thing indeed.
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