Sixty-six million years ago, a terrible comet rocketed from the sky and struck the Earth, triggering the Ice Age that would wipe out the dinosaurs... but also gave rise to Earth's first STARBRAND!
Earth's first cosmic-powered protector!
Millions more years passed, and eventually, two cavemen named Vnn and Brrkk were on their way to find a fabled garden paradise...
...when they're ambushed by a Deviant horde, hellbent on finding their garden of eatin'!
The battle seems to go well, but the Deviants ultimately take Vnn and Brrkk by surprise, causing a collapse that reveals the secret underground final resting place of the t-rex Starbrand. Vnn touches the thunder lizard and is transformed!
It’s pretty easy to be skeptical of writer Jason Aaron’s Avengers run these days. He’s leaning far, far too heavily into his penchant for fan service in lieu of deeper plot, and that’s caused the book to feel featherlight in its narrative execution. By contrast, he’s also pulling a more serious maneuver he enjoys as well: very long-term plotting (after all, this is the guy who spent five or six years on Thor building up to the War of the Realms). The seeds for his Avengers 1,000,000 BCE subplot stretch back two years ago to the Marvel Legacy one-shot (which was in and of itself a transparent attempt to siphon some of that Rebirth magic off of DC, but I digress) and have since been very, very slowly bearing fruit between Avengers storyarcs in the form of one-shot standalone issues, each featuring a member of the A1MBCE. The results have, thus far, been one heck of a mixed bag to say the least.
This issue, though, feels a bit different. For one thing, it’s heavily foundational not just for the Marvel Universe as a whole (or at least Earth), but for the very concept of superpowered beings on Earth in general.
And, yes: the very first one was a super space t-rex that breathes white fire. Which, unobjectively, is the coolest thing ever.
Right there, Aaron’s penchant for ham-fisted fan service bears some amazing fruit. Whereas previous arcs’ attempts have felt juvenile for it (or at least like they were trying too hard), there is legitimately nothing that is not awesome about this scenario. So there.
But then, the drama continues millions of years later, picking up with cavemen Vnn and Brrkk – who, despite being hirsute cavemen, look like they crawled out of an issue of GQ thanks to Dale Keown’s hyper-rendered ’90s-style pencils – and that’s when things get interesting. Well, not that the super space t-rex wasn’t interesting – but maybe a little more relevant to current events. Vnn and Brrkk are searching for a hallowed garden paradise (which, though not specifically referred to as such, is clearly Eden) when the Deviant horde (also looking for the garden) attacks them. Bringing the Deviants into the mix solidifies the plot as part of established Marvel lore and ties Vnn and Brrkk more firmly into the larger Marvel universe. Although the story makes no attempts at explaining who these Deviants are and why they matter in the grand scheme of things, their mere appearance is relevant. Aaron is telling us that although he’s adding to the origin story of the Marvel Universe, he isn’t disregarding any part of it per se. Instead, he’s adding to it. That’s important, especially in this day and age when so many writers feel the need to play fast and loose with cherry-picked continuity.
Better still: Vnn and Brrkk are gay. That is an awesomely inclusive detail that, though almost casually tossed in, gives the story a unique dramatic flair, especially once tragedy strikes. Vnn becomes the new Starbrand (how the t-rex is still alive isn’t touched upon; an educated guess is that its cosmic mark bestowed longevity but that’s just a supposition) and eventually meets up with the Avengers 1,000,000 BCE, leaving readers to guess at their future trevails. Everything wraps up pretty neatly over all, which is actually pretty impressive when you stop to consider just how much story was included in this single, one-and-done issue. Hats off to Jason Aaron, Dale Keown, and every other creator involved in the making of this genuinely fun comic.
Now, if only Aaron could pull this off every issue…
Although seemingly inconsequential unless readers are fully invested in Jason Aaron's long-term Avengers 1,000,000 BCE subplot, Avengers #26 packs a world of fun, heart, and imagination into its story. Bonus, for emphasis: super space t-rex.
Avengers #26: A Rage as Wide as the Cosmos
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 6/106/10
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