|Cover by Billy Tan, Leonardo Olea|
Avengers Academy: Fear Itself #18 (August 17, 2011)
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciller: Andrea Di Vito
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
For the first time since I began reading the Avengers Academy, I found myself rather indifferent to the latest plotline. Avengers Academy: Fear Itself #18 was not a bad issue per se, or even a particularly weak one. It was just filler: an action-filled in-between moment between the cliffhanger of the previous issue and whatever turn of events occurs next.
There were some elements to this issue that I did like and I have to say, I just enjoy reading about this motley group of teenagers. The strongest thing about this issue and probably Gage’s entire run on this series is the distinct characterizations. He manages to imbue each character with individual flaws and strengths while still focusing on the group dynamics. It’s a tough balancing act that does falter every once in a while but for the most part, I am repeatedly pleasantly surprised by Gage’s skill at handling this.
As I said, this issue was simply action-driven filler: the team works together to survive and save their friends against the decidedly stronger and eviler villains (who also happen to have powerful hammers for some reason that I have since forgotten), Titania and the Absorbing Man. There were some tense moments as the students struggle to come up with a plan and stay calm in the face of their friends being nearly killed.
I also found the way in which Gage handled the personal conflicts of the students in this issue. As we know, these students had the greatest risk of turning evil (that is a silly sentence but a true one, according to Marvel) and therefore, they tap into this knowledge in order to fight back against Titania and the Absorbing Man. I enjoyed the fact that they played upon their own dual natures in order to help one another. It was fun just to have Gage harken back to that element, as for the last couple issues, I simply felt that I was reading about regular (albeit mutant) teenagers, not dangerous ones.
Di Vito’s art was solid, as usual. The fight scenes were not overwhelming or dizzying but still managed to have a lot of movement to them. I suppose I’ll pick up the next issue just because I have been so enjoying this series this summer. After this blah issue, however, I am worried about where this will go.