Monday, August 15, 2011

Avengers Academy Fear Itself #16: A God-Awful Small Affair

Avengers Academy #16 - Comic Book Cover
Cover by Leonardo
Avengers Academy Fear Itself #16: A God-Awful Small Affair
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciller: Tom Raney
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna

Thus far, Avengers Academy has consistently been my favorite Marvel discovery. Though its previous entry in the Fear Itself series was just alright, I still enjoy reading these comics and seeing how these teenaged characters are dealing with decidedly grown-up superhero situations.

Gage's writing is stronger here than in #15, a much welcomed improvement. Rather than wallowing in melodrama as he did before, Gage up-ed the action and the characterization. He shifted the focus entirely away from the student Avengers for most of the issue, which both bothered me and yet made sense. Instead, the narrative stayed mostly with their main teacher, Dr. Pym. At first this threw me, but as the founder of the Avengers Academy, he's as integral to the series as the students themselves. Correspondingly, Gage's rendition of Pym was very strong here.

Rather than simply portraying him as an angry superhero, Gage illustrated Pym as a clearly dedicated teacher whose only goal was to get to his students and help them as they continue with evacuations and combat escaped supervillains in a now war-torn Washington D.C. His battle with the Absorbing Man in Dubai, which took up most of this issue, was pretty gripping and exciting. Raney did a particularly excellent job illustrating the full extent of all the damage done to the city, with smoldering skyscrapers and blasted away craters filling each panel.

His illustrations of Washington were also well-done and a sequence featuring Veil in a collapsed building amongst rubble and fallen beams was actually claustrophobic. What impressed me the most, however, about this comic was Gage's risky decision to include a pretty heart-wrenching moment at the conclusion of the issue. I don't really want to go into details as I feel that would cheat people out of the comic but suffice it to say, Veil experiences a profoundly damaging and painful moment which reminds both her and the reader the risk and pain that can go along with trying to save someone. I really was not expecting Gage to completely pull the rug out from underneath me and though I was initially upset, I quickly realized that it was a solid decision on his part. He could very well have taken the easy way out and given the reader a neat little happy ending but he took a risk instead, which I respect.

Also, I just liked the fact that the title is a David Bowie reference. That just made me inanely happy.

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