Writer: Christos Gage
Artists: Mike Perkins(p), David Hennessy and Perkins(i), Raul Trevino(c)
House of M: Avengers opens with a turf skirmish between the Dragons and Luke Cage's Avengers. The Dragons are run by Shang-Chi and consist of seventies Marvel martial artists such as Colleen Wing and the Sons of the Tiger. The Dragons have yet to come to the conclusion that Cage has. Homo sapiens must be protected, and their real enemy is the Man which consists largely of Homo superior.
This time-line recapitulates the Marvel proper time-line somewhat, but writer Christos Gage works in clever variations. For example, the Tigers decide to throw in their lot with Luke Cage rather than continue their association with the Dragons. As a result, Shang-Chi tears off their amulets and throws them away in disgust. The originals merely discarded their amulets when they disbanded.
The Man's mole Misty Knight begins to sympathize with Cage and his Avengers, and Gage contrasts her spy reports with what she really sees and hears for added effect. The technique results in funny scenes that exhibit smart connections between art and writing in the comic book medium.
The Man puts Misty Knight in a bad position, and the scene addresses the Blaxploitation theme of continued slavery. Gage gives Tigra a particularly impressive moment that spotlights her valor. Brian Bendis isn't capable of writing such a resonant scene for Tigra, but Gage respects his characters even if they are only reflections of a time-line that will soon no longer exist.
House of M: Avengers' only problem is Frank Castle. He's introduced with an alternate origin that goes on for six pages, but he doesn't interact with the characters or the main plot. The origin disrupts the flow of the story. The creators could have probably encapsulated his tale in dialogue or flashback during a later chapter, should the Punisher actually affect the story in some way.
This issue of House of M: Avengers is almost as good as the previous issue and continues the funky, Shaft/Marvel Universe fusion. Raul Trevino's colors are aptly washed out and reflect the grindhouse aesthetic of the seventies. Mike Perkins either inking his own pencils or relying on David Hennessy swathes the book in a realistic look filled with proportionate, powerful looking figures.
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