The Multiversal Masters of Evil, a group of the deadliest villains of their respective worlds, have been conquering countless universes, aided by the demon Mephisto. Avenger Prime, a repentant Loki from an alternate world, assembled an army of Avengers from across the Multiverse at the God Quarry to oppose the villains.
The war has been raging on multiple fronts. The modern and prehistoric Avengers battled the Multiversal Masters while Mephisto and a legion of his variants fought the assembled Avengers at the God Quarry. Doom Supreme of the Masters also launched an army of his own variants in a bid to usurp power.
Avengers #66 ramps up the action yet again, which does not sound unappealing, until you consider how long the book has been following this upwards trajectory, moving at the pace of a rollercoaster with a few too many hills. The unbridled creativity was incredibly entertaining for a time, but a never-ending battle is bound to grow stale, regardless of how many fighters are thrown into the ring.
The beginning of this arc promised more importance for the prehistoric avengers, while its sister series Avengers Forever built up the significance of Avengers Tower as some sort of multiversal epicenter. It was implied that the fate of the timeline hinged on the survival of these two entities. As it stands now, the tower lies in ruin and a few of the avenger’s ancient predecessors have been slain, with none of it making a lick of a difference. Enemies are vanquished and loose threads are tied, but in a cynical way that exposes how superfluous their inclusion was in the first place.
The Multiversal Masters (or what remains of them) are teleported away by Young Thanos. The Council of Red is backstabbed by their 616 variant in a shockingly quick and simple fashion. Then, last-minute reinforcements arrive to blast away the doom army. That leaves main-universe Mephisto, empowered by the energy of his dead variants, as the final boss of this drawn-out adventure. Sure, he’s the size of a skyscraper now, but with no clear idea of what’s at stake anymore, his ensuing rampage fails to intimidate.
Penciller Javier Garron continues to impress, not just by avoiding visual clutter in a chaotic and crowded comic, but also by finding new ways to make pages interesting after drawing the same environment for five consecutive issues. David Curiel, Rachelle Rosenberg, Erick Arciniega, and Morry Hollowell all serve as colorists this month, and the work of these four individuals blends together in perfect cohesion. A chill blue fills the page in which Thor’s daughters wield Mjolnir for the first time. Scarlet floods the panels in which Mephisto melts the corpses of his variants into goop. The way his flesh froths and bubbles as he becomes gargantuan seems like a visual nod to the film Akira.
Jason Aaron compliments the visuals with crowd-pleasing moments of payoff. Galactus being brought in to deal with Doom the Living Planet made for an amusing cameo, and Ka-Zar, Gorilla-Man, and Ursa Major receiving their acts of redemption after lengthy absences was a pleasant surprise. The crowning jewel of these moments is a double-page spread, where heroes from all universes join together to shout the team’s iconic phrase. It’s a moment that will certainly have invested readers riled up to see what happens next, which makes the issue’s sudden stop feel anticlimactic. The long-awaited conclusion has eluded us once again, feeling so close yet so far.
Avengers #66 has some thrills to offer, but it can't help but feel as if the narrative is being stretched to unnecessary lengths. However, fantastic visuals and the rare character moment continue to carry this comic onward.
Avengers #66: Attack of the 50 Foot Mephisto
- Writing - 6/106/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10