Comics : Avengers (Vol. 5) #14

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Signal"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This review was first published on: Jul 2013.


The overall arc so far for this volume of Avengers has been how the Universe is broken and how a god called Ex Nihilo sent Origin bombs to the Earth to evolve its inhabitants and make it sentient. We've seen some of the effects of these bomb sites – a new race of children in the Savage Lands and some confusing goings on in Canada. Also the Earth developed it's own brain Avengers (Vol. 5) #9 although a new and naive Starbrand destroyed this in self defence, the results of which we are yet to see.

Maybe this arc will have some pay off to all this set up…

In Detail...

"The Signal"
Avengers (Vol. 5) #14
Aug 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man & Spider-Woman Appear
Arc: Part 1 of "The Signal"
Editor:  Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort
Writer:  Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer
Artist:  Stefano Caselli
Cover Art:  Leinil Francis Yu, Sunny Gho
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Colorist:  Frank Martin
Staff Only

Chhatarpur, India (site of the self-repair Origin bomb): Many rock giants have hatched and construct a huge glyph made of rock on the surface of the Earth. When they try to power it, it fails – preventing repair and the leaving the world "terminal". Perth, Australia (site of the communication Origin bomb): Many giant insects have hatched and try to power up a huge antenna. This also fails, again leaving the world "terminal".

On the S.H.I.E.L.D. observation station, Bruce Banner and Captain America are monitoring a worldwide problem. Every six minutes a signal is sent that knocks out the majority of the Earth’s power networks. Bruce is trying to work out where the signal comes from (whilst keeping his stress under control) and can do with some help from Tony Stark. However, Iron Man and Captain Marvel are stopping satellites crashing into the Earth. In fact, all the Avengers are busy. Smasher is carrying powerless aircraft safely to the ground whilst Manifold evacuates the passengers. Spider-Woman is setting up a kind of radar to guide Smasher, by using Falcon and his bird telepathy to tell her where all the planes are. Thor and his team are in South Korea but are too late to stop a nuclear reactor going critical. Fortunately Captain Universe turns up and contains all the fallout, saving the population. She then hints that the signal is coming from one of the Origin bomb sites.

The clue is too late for Bruce to act before the next signal. We see that the signal is being sent from the insects in Australia and it is rejected by the other sites (in Canada, the Savage Lands and Japan) but the rock giants in India accept it and warp to Australia. Bruce works out that Perth is the site of the signal and Manifold teleports all available Avengers to the scene. A battle between the Avengers and the insects and rock giants breaks out. Bruce then detects another energy signal, this time from A.I.M. island. The pod the A.I.M. scientists took from the seventh Origin bomb site in Avengers (Vol. 5) #4 is hatching…

In General...

Another great story. Whilst I don’t know how much input he has, it seems that the addition of Nick Spencer to the writing team has led to some stellar stories. Here we see the Avengers deal with Earth's biggest problems but on a grass roots level we don’t normally experience. We have a worldwide threat but it’s not the usual super villain or alien invasion (well maybe indirectly) but actual "real life" problems on Earth. Planes and satellites crashing; nuclear reactors going critical; stuff that could actually happen. I really enjoyed this realism in the comic and how it showed the Avengers in a different light. It was also nice to see the whole Avengers team present in one story, it can be difficult fitting them all in!

Some wonderful character moments again. Nice to see "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" in sites all over the Earth and not just America or off-world. Love the use of Falcon and his power over birds to act as radar so Smasher can rescue falling planes whilst Manifold deals with the passengers; very clever. Nice moment with Shang Chi, getting a laugh when he doubts Manifold can get back to Perth with Avenger reinforcements in time only to have them appear before he finishes his sentence! Also like the brief mention of Bruce Banner’s “World War Hulk” past when he says he has already seen his whole world die in front of his eyes. Subtle nods to Marvel continuity like this are great; rewarding long time readers without getting in the way of the story. Nothing worse then a story that relies on past tales and then assumes the reader has full knowledge of them or takes half the issue retelling them. Bruce also has a line acknowledging the double agents at A.I.M. that Sunpost hired in Avengers (Vol. 5) #11, which again is a good nod to continuity. The only character I really don’t like is Captain Universe. I said way back in Avengers (Vol. 5) #3 that I was concerned she’d be too powerful and that seems to be the case. Whilst the writers keep her under control by her constantly spacing out into her host Tamara, Cap U always comes to the front when needed and it’s becoming a bit too deus ex machina for me.

There is a slight downside. The issue is a little confusing as we don’t really know what the opening pages are about and still don’t know what is going on at the Origin bomb sites. I appreciate that’s part of the build up and seems to be the way of comics at the moment, jump straight in and then explain the beginning later. This is okay as long as some answers turn up soon. It also makes the later explanatory issues seem like filler and slow down the story. Let's hope for the best! Maybe some of the whole “Universe is broken” stuff is linked to the recent Age of Ultron event but at the moment we just don’t know and there’s only so long you can build suspense before we get bored!

Finally the art is superb as I've come to expect from this title.

Overall Rating...

Great set up but please can we have some Origin bomb answers soon, after all six of the seven have now hatched!


Spider-Man is in his new outfit which debuts in Superior Spider-Man #14 setting this story around or after that story.