Avengers Annual (2021) #1 by Jed Mackay

Avengers Annual (2021) #1 (Avengers (2018-))Avengers Annual (2021) #1 (Avengers by Jed Mackay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just like The Last Annihilation I’ve only read a few parts of Infinite Destinies, but what I have read has been excellent. Foreman’s art here is great and he seems like a perfect choice to illustrate this tale of a synthetic human being possessed by the Soul Stone and going through an awakening.

Particular praise should go to Cory Petit, whose lettering makes what could have been a confusing internal conversation between the synthetic human and the Soul Stone perfectly legible. It takes real talent to meet a lettering challenge like this, face it head on and execute it so perfectly.

Of course, that lettering would be nothing without words to letter, and Jed MacKay, whose work I’m unfamiliar with, does a sterling job with this metaphysical exploration of the nature of the soul and how that pertains to artificial intelligence. Couple that with the use of synthetic people as a metaphor for oppressed minority groups and you have the recipe for a damn fine comic book.

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FCBD 2021: Avengers/Hulk #1 by Jason Aaron

FCBD 2021: Avengers/Hulk #1FCBD 2021: Avengers/Hulk #1 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The point of these Free Comic Book Day comics is to entice you to check out the regular books, and as such, this one is a resounding success. That said, I’m already reading Avengers and probably won’t start picking up Hulk, but still…

This is really just two short teasers for each of the books. The Avengers introduces us to the Multiversal Masters of Evil, which is rather exciting. Apparently #50 of The Avengers sees everything that Jason Aaron has been working towards in Avengers finally come to fruition, and I’m very glad that he’s actually getting to do that.

Meanwhile, the Hulk story is basically a bit of silliness where Hulk fights MODOK and then decides he’s had enough and wants to go off into space.

All in all this is good stuff, and should whet your appetite for what’s to come.

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Avengers (2018-) #47 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #47Avengers (2018-) #47 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Avengers illegally invade Russia in a bid to rescue She-Hulk, who’s been kidnapped by the Winter Guard, and it’s balls to the wall action from the first page to the last.

People get SMASHED!

There’s really nothing subtle about this book, no nuance, just rage. I mean, it starts out with Steve and Tony being all sneaky and infiltrating the facility in which She-Hulk’s being held, but things very quickly escalate. And just when you think things can’t possibly get more intense, Jen gets lose…

I honestly don’t have a huge amount to say about this issue. It’s just awesome. Great writing, fantastic art, and a last page reveal that will leave you reeling.

Check it out if you can.

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Avengers #46 by Jason Aaron

Avengers #46 (Avengers (2018-))Avengers #46 (Avengers by Jason Aaron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be fair, this is more of a three and a half star book than a three star book.

Look, it’s not bad, at all, it’s well paced and I like the Winter Guard. I like She-Hulk too. The art’s good, the writing’s solid…it just lacked…something?

Maybe it’s just that this is the first part of the new World War She-Hulk arc. We open with She-Hulk captured and in chains, and then we flash back to how she got there, and then we end up essentially where we started. Which was a little unsatisfying.

But I’m sure, as with Aaron’s run in general, that an issue of set up will be followed by a cracking issue. I guess we’ll find out next month…

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Heroes Return #1 by Jason Aaron

Heroes Return #1Heroes Return #1 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wondered at the end of my review of Heroes Reborn #7 if Aaron would stick the landing. My concern being that his Avengers run so far has been all build up without any satisfying conclusions, with each arc only serving to raise the stakes of the ongoing narrative rather than ever actually resolving things…

…and, yeah, that. I mean, this is great, apart from two small things:

1) The actual way the story concludes is deeply unsatisfying with the Pandemonium Cube simply slipping from Coulson’s grasp in the midst of a chaotic battle and reality resetting.

and;

2) The end of this simply sets up the next big story. Which, you know, I’m excited for, but I have to wonder if Aaron has an ultimate destination in mind or if the stakes will simply keep building until Marvel decide to reboot the Avengers with a new writer.

I think mostly I’m just annoyed that a ploy to keep readers on board and reading is so completely working as far as I’m concerned! Ha! A Council of 616 Mephistoes? You have my continued attention, Mr Aaron. Let’s see where you’re going with this…

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Avengers #45 by Jason Aaron

Avengers #45Avengers #45 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the King In Black logo in the corner, this actually has very little to do with King In Black, which is either a good thing or not depending on your point of view. All you need to know is the Dracula’s vampires helped out in King In Black, but, honestly, that’s all covered here anyway.

This issue is actually a nice breather after all that Phoenix stuff, as we get a chance to take stock and get a look at the whole team, one by one, and see where they’re all at right now. And it’s good stuff.

A run like this needs these quieter issues, where you get a chance to reground the book. That said, there are some important developments, such as the vampire community at Chernobyl is now an independent nation recognised by the UN…but you’ll never guess who’s going to police this new nation…

(Yeah you will…it’s Blade…of course it’s Blade…)

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Avengers (2018-) #44 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #44Avengers (2018-) #44 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enter the Phoenix finally reaches its finale and Jason Aaron sticks the landing…mostly.

I say mostly because the character who ends up as Phoenix is…surprising, and you certainly don’t find yourself thinking, “Oh, yes, that makes perfect sense.” But, rather, “Ok, that’s interesting, where are you going with this…?2

And that’s my big issue with this series, we’re forty four issues in and, yes, I am still interested in where Aaron is is going with all this, but after forty four issue it would be nice to think an end might be in sight. If only because a change of creative team and a new number one feels like an inevitability in today’s comic market, and I’d like to think that Aaron will get a chance to tie everything up before we get there.

Or maybe he won’t, and maybe he doesn’t have an endgame mapped out, but is just having fun creating a wealth of new lore, much as Roy Thomas did. Only time will tell.

But this is good stuff, both artistically and in terms of the writing, and, at least, delivers a satisfying conclusion to this arc.

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Avengers (2018-) #43 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #43Avengers (2018-) #43 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

And for yet another issue we get pretty much nothing but heroes fighting each other in a contest contrived by the Phoenix to be its next host.

We also get some fallout from last issue’s revelations regarding Thor’s true parentage. But this consists of little more than Thor denying the truth of it and then getting stroppy with Jane Foster.

But…it does include Back Panther kicking Wolverine in the balls.

So there’s that…

This story feels like not enough butter spread over too much bread…something desperately needs to happen soon.

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Avengers (2018-) #42 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #42Avengers (2018-) #42 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And just when you think, “Yeah, this series is starting to lose me now, getting bored of all these fights…” Jason Aaron throws in that last page reveal and you’re like, “Oh, right, so I’m back on board now, here we go…”

Also, Aaron’s still pulling out lines like, “That place the Phoenix sent us…man, I’m telling you, Danny…it was the whitest place I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been to the Hamptons.” Which, you know, is great.

So, yeah, I’m still on board with this, even if I have no idea where it’s going. It’s been forty two issues so far, this better all pay off soon…

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Avengers (2018-) #41 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #41Avengers (2018-) #41 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, Avengers, why can’t I quit you?

You see, I’ve never really been an Avengers guy. I’m an X-Men guy…and an Iron Man guy…maybe, just maybe…a West Coast Avengers guy…but never an Avengers guy.

And yet I’ve read a whole lot of Avengers. Just not on a monthly basis. I read Bendis’ whole run in hardback trades. It was awesome. But…you know…I’m not an Avengers guy…so I’ve never read it on a monthly basis…really… Maybe occasionally, but never for long…

And now I find myself 41 issues into an Avengers run and despite often thinking, “Maybe I’ll drop it after the next issue…” it keeps pulling me back in.

Which is a long winded way of saying, “I don’t really have a lot to say about this issue but I liked it. A lot.” I mean, this is just a series of fights narrated by the Black Panther. Which sounds simple but it’s very well executed.

Good comic is good. ‘Nuff said.

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