Comics : Avengers (Vol. 5) #15

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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.

Background...

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. The pods at six of the seven bomb sites have now “hatched” and a signal is being sent across the world causing massive disruption, which the Avengers have been trying to fix.

Ultimately this all led to a battle in Australia between the Avengers and the pod inhabitants, with some potential trouble brewing at A.I.M. island too.

In Detail...

"Sent and Recieved"
Avengers (Vol. 5) #15
Sep 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man & Spider-Woman Appear
Arc: Part 2 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:  Edgar Delgado, Frank Martin
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Issue
Review

Perth, Australia: the Avengers are trying to squish the giant insects and smash the rock giants. The task seems unending though as the bugs are reproducing as quickly as they are being destroyed. Bruce Banner and his team on the S.H.I.E.L.D. observation station are trying to work out what the signal is for as, whilst they now know where it’s coming from, it still hasn't stopped. We readers see that a signal has gotten out into the Universe where it is received by an Aleph (remember one of the robots that was with Ex Nihilo and Abyss in Avengers (Vol. 5) #3).

Captain America then realises the thing they have been fighting on is an antenna and can act as a lightning rod. One blast from Thor and their foes are all down (though the Avengers seem fine!) giving a few moments of peace. Captain Universe uses this moment to turn up. Cap A is a bit annoyed as she wasn’t there to help during the fight; she has only now appeared to get Manifold to take her on a trip. They go to somewhere in space (even Eden doesn’t know where and he’s powers normally let him know). Cap U has taken him (or he took her, it's not clear) to the place where the end begins, where the guardians will be the first to rise and the first to fall (all very cryptic).

Meanwhile, a dozen or so spaceships have turned up in orbit of Earth. Abigail Brand, head of S.W.O.R.D., fires a capture ray from her orbital headquarters to stop all but one of the ships; a Skrull ship managed to get through and is heading to Earth. Additionally, the thing that hatched last issue on A.I.M. island has torn up the place and gotten free.

The issue ends with Bruce Banner detecting something nasty heading towards Perth and telling the Avengers to prepare for something big…

In General...

To me this was quite a confusing issue, too many cryptic comments and loose ends set up. So let’s see what we’ve got, before I review the issue itself:

Things we know: 1) The Origin bomb sites aren’t working properly, this leads to fights. 2) A signal has been sent and received by an Aleph. Things we don’t know: 1) Why the bomb sites aren’t working properly? – is it because the Universe is broken, or because the Earth’s brain was destroyed? 2) Why have a fleet of alien ships suddenly turned up in Earth’s orbit? 3) Where Cap U and Manifold have gone and why?

Lots of unresolved stuff, which works well for set up but I think it’s a bit too much at once. I mean it makes me want to buy the next issue (which ultimately is what Marvel want) but some stuff just appears out of nowhere. What’s the deal with the alien visitors and the Skrulls getting through? Are they responding to the signal too? Also where has the giant robot heading for Perth at the end of the issue come from? I think it’s what was hatched from the A.I.M. pod, but it could be from the alien ships or even sent by the Aleph that received the signal. Too much we don’t know. It’ll no doubt be explained in time and so be fine and fit together by the end of the arc, but now there is just too much in the air for one issue. That makes reviewing this issue as an issue in its own right tricky. It's clearly part of an arc and so not meant to be read on its own and that's fine, but it’s been 15 issues can we please tie something up a little before setting yet more things up!

Not too much else to review as nothing that significant happens apart from all the set up. One battle ends but it looks as though another is on its way. Bruce Banner is the only character that gets a chance to have a moment. I like this version of Banner, he does well in charge and it’s a welcome change from the Bruce of the past who would do his best to (understandably) keep out of the way. This is a Banner that is content with who he is and what he can offer. It's also nice to see Bruce getting his own time in the comic and not just Hulk smashing, although the next issue’s cover suggests that will be coming soon enough!

Final few things, whilst he only has one line I’m continuing to enjoy the sarcastic Spidey and his portrayal in Avengers. Lastly the art is once again lovely, apart from maybe the front cover where they have relied on Black Widow’s boobs once again! Cheap trick guys – we’re better than this!

Overall Rating...

Took me a bit to come up with a score for this issue in itself for all the “set up” problems I mentioned above. How do you rate a single comic which is so clearly part of a bigger story? There was nothing particularly bad with the issue and hopefully it will all pay off, but the loose ends meant there was equally nothing particular good about the issue in itself. So I scored it straight down the middle.

Footnote...

Bruce Banner makes a comment about being left-handed so I looked this up. Apparently he is not left handed but one of his Hulks – the Professor a.k.a. Merged Hulk – was. This is normally the minor kind of continuity breach that drives me crazy! But it surprising didn’t this time. I suppose if different Hulk personalities can be different handed, then why can’t different Banner personalities. Heck maybe he’s just ambidextrous!