Namor. Dracula. Russia's Winter Guard. The Squadron Supreme of America...
What do all these disparate villains have in common?
They've all been recently whomped on by the MIGHTY AVENGERS, that's what!
But these random villains are being manipulated by someone far, far more sinister, lurking in the shadows...
Mephisto is secretly pulling the strings, even though everyone thinks his imprisonment means he's off the board! His first goal? To get all of these bad guys together! Second goal: destroy the Avengers!
Avengers #32 is a chance to catch some breath following the harrowing recent events of the series, and to set up future knock-down drag-outs to come. If anyone was wondering why Jason Aaron has been jumping all over the place for the past thirty-plus issues in terms of story styles and villain types, it was apparently to get to this issue – in which Namor, Dracula, the Squadron Supreme of America, and the Winter Guard are set up to work together to decimate the Avengers. Talk about a stacked deck.
From a continuity standpoint, Namor is a trouble point, though. After originally resurfacing in full-on villain mode back in issue nine, his story then segued over to the insanely brilliant Invaders maxiseries. Much was revealed about the root cause of his continual switching between good and evil, and by the end, he seemed cautiously back on the side of the angels. But this issue treats those events as if they didn’t happen; Namor, having successfully just stopped one war against the surface world, is now openly contemplating another. That’s quite a hard pill to swallow from a narrative standpoint, but alas, intra-comic continuity simply isn’t Marvel’s strong point anymore.
Still and all, though, it’s a lot of fun seeing just how badly the odds are stacked against the Avengers right now, and they don’t even know it. Domestically, Black Widow talks Blade out of leaving, even as she exits the team’s rotating open spot (presumably to get put through the paces in Kelly Thompson’s upcoming solo book for the character). Blade has been an odd fit for this team ever since he joined (ostensibly for the duration of the Dracula arc at the time), but then again, it’s always nice to see the perpetually-underutilized Daywalker, so who am I to argue? The Avengers are no strangers to having members join who seem like odd fits at the time, all the way back to Cap’s Kooky Quartet, and more recently, Wolverine. So Blade hanging around suits the team’s history just fine.
Narratively, Jason Aaron does a fine job weaving all of these disparate plot threads together, seeming not to fit at first until the end of the issue reveals Mephisto to be pulling everyone’s strings. Then, everything snaps into place, and readers are treated to a real “Oh $#!t” moment when they realize just how many forces are currently arrayed against Earth’s Mightiest. Ed McGuinness does what he does best on the art chores: provides big, beefy action figures doing big, crazy superhero things and looking bigger than life while they do it. Not a lot of artists could have pulled off the above splash page with Namor fighting laser dolphins as well as McGuinness; the man’s work simply screams “fun.” It’s pretty much a no-brainer that he would be paired with Aaron to produce this summer popcorn flick of an action movie in comic form. Aaron’s run may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but there’s no denying he’s swinging for the fences when it comes to making it as big as possible. And that, in and of itself, is proving more often than not as his run continues, to be worth the price of admission.
Avengers #32 lines up a frighteningly stacked bunch of seemingly-disconnected bad guys, all of whom are being manipulated by someone far, far worse than them. Although it'll never be accused of being the brainiest comic around, this run is good, solid superhero antics from front to back.
Avengers #32: A Fish-man, a Vampire, and a Bear Walk Into a Bar…
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 6.5/106.5/10
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