Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: Avengers World #6

 I read somewhere, somewhen, that Avengers World was telling strong, single-issue stories set in the current continuity of the Marvel Universe. This was a thing I wanted in my life! So on my latest trip to the comics shop to load up on dollar bin books (filling in a nice chunk of late-80s Uncanny X-Mens), I picked up Avengers World #6, featuring on its cover someone who was either Hyperion (most notably of Mark Gruenwald's excellent alternate reality limited series Squadron Supreme), or the Sentry, an 00s-era Superman/Shazam kind of figure.

Two things I learned quickly in this issue of Avengers World: One, that's Hyperion on the cover, but he's sporting the Sentry's blue-and-gold color scheme these days, rather than his traditional crimson-and-gold.

And two, this issue is most certainly not a self-contained story.

The issue starts with a "S.H.I.E.L.D. Mission Report" that serves as a one-page recap of the story so far. Though it's implied this issue will feature Thor, Hyperion, and the latest Captain Marvel (being Carol Danvers, of the very cool costume and haircut, and being previously known as Ms. Marvel), Carol only shows up to point out that...

This is her only line of dialogue.

Near the end of the issue, she's on hand to be thrown all the way to Seattle by former Avenger, now A.I.M.-lackey, the Messenger. Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel remains my favorite-in-theory Marvel hero I've not actually enjoyed on the page.

Anyway. The rest of the recap explains (kind of) that some of the Avengers have been captured by A.I.M., and Captain America has sent these three Avengers, our Avengers, to rescue them.

But once the issue gets rolling, we quickly learn that Hyperion is sad. Justifiably so -- his entire universe has been destroyed (for reasons unclear in this issue), and he feels adrift and lost in this world. There's a flashback ("Savage Land. Days Ago.") to Hyperion watching over a group of ... children? Zebra-skinned humanoids?... playing with a stegosaurus, talking with Thor about how he feels hopeless, even when watching over playful ... kids? mutants? aliens? ... because he feels all is hopeless and that this world, too, will be destroyed.

I could not tell you why this is.

Not a joke: It's hard to feel invested in sad sack superheroes.

What I can tell you is that the issue employs a neat, circuital, Doozer Stick-looking visual to denote when a flashback occurs.

"You seem burdened" is my new go-to icebreaker.

This is, unfortunately, one of the only compelling things about this issue. In general the colors are a bland blend of yellows and blues, and the dialogue is bloated and difficult to follow. "What am I to show these children of their future?" Hyperion wonders. "It occurs to me that I fixate on keeping them safe by strength -- because I do not believe in anything else here."

He doesn't believe in anything but strength? Or in anything but keeping them safe? Or in anything but the children? In any event, you could trim "It occurs to me that" altogether, and you certainly straighten out "I fixate on keeping them safe by strength" into something more like a sentence intended for clarity, and we would all have a better shot at understanding what the real issue here is.

This is all spoken, by the way, when Hyperion and Thor have lost of the ... children? ... after they have run off into the jungle of the Savage Land, with a dinosaur, as Hyperion is actively worried about the people and places he cares about being obliterated all over again.

But alas. The meat of the story (or maybe the marrow? It is thick and rich, but buried in the middle) occurs once Hyperion has ... I think, fought his way, alone, into the middle of the A.I.M. headquarters and come face to face with the Scientist Supreme, the man who brought Hyperion from his dead world and into this one. The two of them stare at a bright white, crackling portal, its function and purpose unclear, as the Scientist Supreme exposits that Hyperion has been brought here to join A.I.M.'s cause (also unknown) willingly.

Hyperion refuses, because he is the sun ...

So the portal is ... death? Or this is a joke about Superboy-Prime?

He punches and destroys the white portal (function still unknown), and demands the return of the lost Avengers. He also, apparently, moves to punch the Scientist Supreme immediately, because his punch is caught by the Messengers, once the Avenger known as Smasher. She appears to be dressed like Yellowjacket, an alias of the founding Avenger Hank Pym, also known as Ant-Man, though it is unclear if this is purposeful.

Yellowjacket above, Messenger below, mournful all-round.

Smasher punches Hyperion all the way to the desert, and then tosses Thor to the snow, and Captain Marvel (as previously discussed) to Seattle.

Hyperion narrates that the Sun of our solar system will live for 9.5 billion years, which is the blink of an eye when compared to the "heat-death point of the universe." He wonders if he can "stand against that kind of power," presumably meaning the heat-death-point, and not the sun? He tried to stand against it once before, and failed. He will not fail again!

I do not know what any of this means. To be continued!

Avengers World #6 is written by Nick Spencer with art by Marco Checchetto, color art by Andres Mossa, and letters by VC's Joe Caramagna. Cover artists are Neal Adams & Paul Mounts. Jake Thomas is the assistant editor, Will Moss is the editor, Tom Brevoort is the executive editor, with editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, chief creative officer Joe Quesada, publisher Dan Buckley, and executive producer Alan Fine. Published by Marvel Comics and dated July 2014. It is on comics stands now.

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