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Avengers Academy #21

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

Tigra is the best thing about this so-called "new era" of Avengers Academy. I know that I'm biased toward the character, and when I chant Tigra is love, eyes roll, but this time there's no joke. Tigra is one out of two saving graces.

The second saving grace? The artwork. Avengers Academy is so damn pretty. Sean Chen, Scott Hanna and Jeromy Cox illustrate a plethora of heroes, and it looks like they have a lot of fun doing it.

The Gang's All Here

I just love this. The tug of war makes sense because Lyra becomes stronger when she grows calmer. The White Tiger versus Tigra match on the diving board is poetry and so characteristic. As to the colors, it looks like a rainbow exploded.

Visually, everybody in the book, except Captain America is in character, and the artists take special pride in Jocasta. We see her in a range of shiny action, and despite being robotic, emoting.

Jocasta's Expressiveness

Despite the good intent of the artwork and the unity of the artists, the writing and Marvel's marketing strategy leaves much for which to be desired.

What the hell are the Powers That Be at Marvel up to? It's issue twenty-one, but they also plaster this little item under the proper numbering.

Sounds like DC Envy to Me.

Calling this issue the start of a new era is a bit much and makes Marvel look weak. To quote Q, Never let them see you bleed. That "1st Issue" blurb suggests acute hemorrhaging caused by DC's overwhelming new 52 strike.

Hank Pym reopened the West Coast compound. Quicksilver refurbished it, and they've got some new students. Hawkeye joins as a teacher. That's not the beginning of a new era. That's not even much of a change. 

Technically, Avengers Academy continues the West Coast Avengers era. Observe the roster: Hawkeye, Hank Pym, Tigra, She-Hulk (Lyra) and Jocasta who possesses Janet Van Dyne's brain patterns. Throw in Mockingbird, Iron Man or Wonder Man and you would have a full house of West Coast Avengers.

I could have ignored this ballyhoo if Christos Gage hadn't turned out the clumsiest writing of his career. Believe me, it pains me to say that. In the past, I've given the majority of Avengers Academy four and five stars. This issue... urgh...

Gage generates more bona fide feeling with Tigra countering Striker's horndog attitude than the lion's share of the issue which consists of ham-fisted exposition and telling the reader things she probably doesn't care about. It's no accident that the Tigra/Striker scenes function more potently with less words than the long passages of verbiage that clot the rest of the book.

Best Scene #1

Runner-Up

On the very first, page, you know you're in trouble.

Oh, no.

What's wrong with that scenario? Everything. Hank's soliloquy is so blatantly runny. Nobody speaks like that. The passage has obviously been typed for new readers. Faithful readers be damned. Worst of all, Captain America is pessimistic. Captain America is never pessimistic! The artists appear to sense something wrong because they draw Cap as a thick, musclebound dope. He looks more like U.S. Agent might than Cap, who should be lither more prone to gymnastics rather than simple dukery.

Captain America is the symbol of optimism in the face of certain doom. Captain America would never write these kids off. Never. Cap would say something like: "Veil was in a war, Hank. That changes you. She may come back once she discovers what she needs to find out about herself. In the meantime, the rest of those kids need you. Man up. Stop wallowing in self-pity and be the leader I know you can be." Captain America should be a living, breathing pep talk. Only Hawkeye sounds about right in this scene.

All of the uncharacteristic behavior serves the cause of a depressing, superfluous fight waged between the Cadets and the old, newish guard. Once again, Captain America spouts nonsense and exacerbates the situation.

Oh, Bullsh...

No. A thousand times no. Cap does not behave that way. He does not talk like that. Cap would have said, possibly with a little smile: "Stand down, mister. Nobody's judging you or your classmates, Striker. In fact, the 'crazy man' here as well as the rest of the Avengers want to thank you for the service you performed during a dark hour. We think you'll make fine heroes one day."

Jocasta's almost the voice of reason, but then she goes all robot.

WTF?

I don't get this. She was already trying to talk the kids out of their angst-ridden preconceptions earlier. She makes this pithy observation about Hank, and then she starts blithering about "developmental psychiatry" rubbish. All she had to say was, "All of you were wrong. You especially Captain America. Are you feverish? You don't sound like yourself."

This is the worst issue of Avengers Academy I have ever read, and it doesn't even come close to replicating the feeling of a classic Justice League of America tale, where one of the heroes murders Mr. Terrific.

Pre-Crisis Bliss

The difference is that, in Justice League of America, Batman and the Huntress set about trying to solve a fairplay mystery. In Avengers Academy, Gage reveals the culprit and why. The why makes you clutch your head and groan. I swore as well.


Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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