Editor's Note: Mighty Avengers #32 arrives in stores tomorrow, December 16.
"Mighty/Dark, Part 1 of 2: The Real Deal"
Mighty Avengers #32 sees Dan Slott continue his attempts to infuse an Avengers title with a classic, old-school feel, bringing together a group of positive, heroic characters and having them do battle with some of the Marvel Universe's most powerful villains.
This particular arc sees Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers make an appearance, but there's a lot more to this issue than just another obligatory "Dark Reign" tie-in. In fact, there's so much going on here in terms of plot that it's impossible to list it all, and I couldn't help but be impressed by the manner in which Slott is able to keep so many balls in the air without any aspect of the book feeling short-changed. Many characters are being utilised here (in fact, I'm struggling to think of another Marvel book with a cast as big as this one), but each has his or her own distinctive role and subplot, and none of the characters feels out-of-place or gratuitous.
Of particular note is the strong character work that Slott continues to accomplish with his rejuvenated Hank Pym, effectively conveying the change in his character since his meeting with Eternity a couple of issues ago (and again addressing the wife-beating issue here with a brief but hilarious exchange between Pym and Osborn). However, there's also some intriguing characterisation in the villains' camp, too, with the incorporation of "Dark Reign" and the guest-appearance from the Dark Avengers allowing Slott to provide some stronger-than-ever hints that Loki is manipulating Osborn for his own ends (which looks as though it will play into the upcoming Siege storyline heavily).
It's also fun to see Slott wheel out a classic Marvel villain for his heroes to do battle against, delivering on the Avengers concept of colourful heroes fighting larger-than-life villains in a way that none of the other Avengers books can boast. And by the end of the issue, things get even more extreme, with a closing development that raises the stakes of the story considerably.
Khoi Pham's artwork might not be the showiest in town, but it's clear and consistent stuff, with distinctive character designs, unambiguous storytelling and one or two moments of real inspiration (such as the great montage splashpage that shows the Mighty Avengers' globetrotting superhero antics).
Although it doesn't seem to be attracting the same level of attention as some of the other (Bendis-penned) Avengers books, Mighty Avengers continues to be a great introduction to Marvel's wide universe of characters, in addition to being a good old-fashioned fun superhero book.
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