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Mighty Avengers #17

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Brian Michael Bendis
Khoi Pham (p), Danny Miki and Andy Lanning (i), Dean White (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Mighty Avengers #17 arrives in stores tomorrow, August 27.

This month we get back to the story of Skrull Henry Pym and what he's been up to. You should just assume that ahead there be spoilers.

Bendis does an interesting job of characterization here, with Skrull Dum Dum Dugan laying it out for the Skrull playing Pym: "You're sharing a brain with a smart man. Smarter than you. And you're sharing a brain with a man more heroic than you.... You're also sharing a brain with a man who thinks he is smarter and more heroic than he actually is."

I like this take on Pym. It's not self-pitying and doesn't emphasize the one wife-beating episode (although Skrull Dugan quickly trots out the reference, emphasizing the condescending and dismissive way the character has been treated over the past few years), instead giving us a Pym that is almost smart and brave enough but just can't quite make the cut. It humanizes him and gives the character a little more depth than usual.

Of course, this isn't Pym, though. It's a Skrull named Criti Noll with Henry Pym's personality and memories mingling with his own and Pym's biological identity down to the level of his DNA. And given Pym's psychological past, it should come as no surprise that Criti Noll is having some trouble keeping his eyes on the prize and loses his grip on the role he is playing.

This ends up being a situation similar to the current status of Captain Marvel, but with Pym's personality defects and shortcomings tainting the outcome.

All in all, the story is fairly simple, and I'm kind of surprised that it took an entire issue to cover. Not that it isn't well-paced. It really is. If it weren't paced the way it is, then the end result wouldn't be as effective as it is. And this whole issue is really about setting up the ending.

I love the idea that Pym has had to be embedded over and over again in Skrull after Skrull. I'm confused, though, about the embedding scene. The Skrull being given the Henry Pym mind is named Criti Noll again. But we just saw something very bad happen to Criti Noll. So I'm confused. Is Criti Noll also a false identity? If it is, then it's an interesting detail that I hope actually pays dividends further on in the story. If it's just a blunder, then it's kind of a sloppy and disappointing one.

There's another small scene that hopefully will become something more important over the next few issues. Someone takes a picture of Skrull Dugan at the scene of the destroyed diner the next day, as S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to keep local law enforcement and citizenry away from the site. If that picture doesn't come back to haunt them later, I'll be surprised.

The art is a bit of a mixed bag this issue. I like Khoi Pham's work a lot. He gave Incredible Hercules a great energy, but it wasn't perfect. Here, the weaknesses are back: the abundance of "up-the-nose" angles; some awkward placement of eyes on faces (sometimes too close together, sometimes too far apart); focusing a little too close on the characters in panels and not being able to clearly tell what they are doing; and some confusing action sequences. And there's something about the way he draws people that makes me want to see him illustrate the adventures of the band Love and Rockets.

Seriously. YouTube some Love and Rockets videos and tell me they don't look like Pham characters. Especially in "No New Tale to Tell."

Dean White's colors help make up for some of the deficiencies in the art and provide some nice, subtle touches to the scenes. I especially liked the hints of color in the cheeks and nose of the guy running the diner and the use of the flames as sources of lighting after the diner is destroyed.

So again we have a Secret Invasion tie-in that accomplishes more in one issue than the main series has done over the last few. It's not the best of the tie-ins, but it's a good one, providing a few inspired twists and kinks in the Skrull plans.








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