Comics : Avengers (Vol. 4) #26
This story is part of an Arc: "Avengers Vs. the Protector"
Part 1 / Part 2
This review was first published on: Jun 2013.
It's Avengers versus X-Men. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends, as the Phoenix Force heads back to Earth. Last time we found out that the Kree want the Protector to get the Phoenix force. This is his top mission so if the Avengers get in his way than the Protector must stop them.
Avengers (Vol. 4) #26
Jul 2012 : Review (No SM)
Summary: No Spider-Man
Arc: Part 1 of "Avengers Vs. the Protector"
Captain America is sending a group of Avengers into space to head off the Phoenix. A team is preparing the Earth but if they can stop it from getting there then so much the better. As it’s pretty much a suicide mission the Protector says goodbye to his girlfriend Annie before they leave, giving her a crystal to remember him by.
The team set off to meet the Phoenix but fail to stop it (a note tells us that the details of this battle are in Secret Avengers #26 – 28, Thanks!). As the Avengers are convalescing on the Kree homeworld, Noh-Varr is analysing their defeat and why their Phoenix containment unit didn’t work. He realises that Thor’s hammer has traces of the Phoenix force on it and that it may provide a means to capture the bird.
They set off again with Thor leading the charge, and whilst he takes a pounding, this time they are able to collect a sample from the Phoenix with Mjolnir. Their mission complete, the Avengers want to set straight back to Earth to allow Tony Stark et al to study the sample so a means to defeat the Phoenix can be devised. The Protector can’t allow that though as he is under orders from the Supreme Intelligence to take it to the Kree. With that he appears to open fire on his team mates.
A lot happens in this issue, without much actually happening it seems. Essentially, a team of Avengers are sent out to stop/sample the Phoenix, fail on their first attempt but succeed on their second, only to then be betrayed by their team mate Noh-Varr. I could probably sum up many comics in a sentence so maybe that’s a little unfair, but there did seem a lot of pages given to minor parts of the story. The Protector saying goodbye to his girlfriend was given five whole pages! I didn’t realise she was such a big character – she even appears on the line up page at the start! I get the whole point of the leaving scene was to emphasise that Noh didn’t think he was coming back, but five pages?
The first Phoenix encounter is told within the pages of Secret Avengers (this story is pretty much a crossover with Secret Avengers within the AvX event), so doesn’t actually happen within this issue, but is recapped in a double page splash. That’s fine, as is the way of these multi-line crossover events some stories are told elsewhere, we can look them up if we want to, but we know enough of what happened to allow this story to progress in this issue. We then had three pages of Noh-Varr working out how to catch the Phoenix. This didn’t make much sense to me. It turns out the key to catching the Phoenix is Mjolnir. Now if they had said it was because it is made out of Uru and has special enchantments and left it at that, then fine. But they really emphasised the ”Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy shall possess the power of Thor” inscription, as if that had some link to the Phoenix. They didn’t explain any further and I certainly didn’t understand the significance, maybe I missed something (only Thor could take on the Phoenix successfully perhaps?).
There were a few other problems I had. I found the whole Protector having to betray the Avengers story difficult to believe. I see no reason why Noh couldn’t convince the Avengers to let the Kree help and take a look at the sample first, making everyone happy. This would have fitted in well with the Avengers convalescing on the Kree homeworld as even Valkyrie suggested asking the Kree for help at this point. I suppose time was an issue, but he could have at least tried before opening fire on his own team. The other problem was one of believability. We’re expected to believe that the Avengers have a Quinjet fast enough to meet the Phoenix, that their first battle occurs near the Kree homeworld (who just so happen to want the Phoenix) so they can stop there to regroup after their defeat, then the ship can catch up with the firebird for round two and then get back to Earth before it can? Seems a bit convenient, even for a comic book, but I suppose it could happen so I’ll let it slide (this time!!).
No Spider character to review, so finally the art. Sorry to say I wasn’t a fan and it wasn’t to my taste. Too many bright colours, so no real subtlety in any of the scenes and it was just too inconsistent. Compare Ms Marvel talking to the Protector on the Kree homeworld to the one talking to Beast two pages later, or the one at the end of the issue. They’re all different. Equally Beast, Noh-Varr and Valkyrie on the Kree homeworld look very different to the ones at the end of the issue. Art duties weren’t split between two different artists so why the inconsistency? Was it rushed so less effort put in? It was also too cartoon-y and almost caricature like for me. Furthermore, I don’t like misleading covers. Whilst you should never judge a book by its cover, a reader would be well within their rights to believe Thor and the Protector had a fight in this issue – they don’t. Don’t try and sell comics on false pretences, the story should be good enough!
The story itself was alright and fitted into the AvX event and the Avengers comic line, although I thought it was badly paced throughout the issue with pages being wasted on seemingly insignificant events whilst leaving other things unexplained. I also didn’t like the inconsistent art or the Noh-Varr betrayal angle so it loses webs for that too.
During this event I'm only going to be reading Avengers and New Avengers, hopefully recap pages (and the internet) will fill me in on any significant events in the tie ins though.
Also as all the AvX reviews are written well after the event had finished, they will be written from the point of view taken at the time and I'll make clear any after thoughts I have post-event.