Comics : Avengers (Vol. 5) #16

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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: Aug 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. Pods grown 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.

Last issue: A signal got out into the Universe that an Aleph received, a dozen spaceships turned up in Earth’s orbit, Manifold and Captain Universe have gone on a road trip, A.I.M. are recovering from their pod hatching and the Avengers won a battle in Australia against the pod inhabitants but now something big is on its way.

Yes a lot is going on, or certainly seems to be!

In Detail...

"To the End"
Avengers (Vol. 5) #16
Sep 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man & Spider-Woman Appear
Arc: Part 3 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
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Issue
Review

We have a few flashbacks in the issue (well I suppose it’s been a while since they have done that gimmick) showing Nightmask and Starbrand trapped in the Dyson sphere where they were left at the end of Avengers (Vol. 5) #9. Turns out (as I expected at the time) that they aren’t really trapped and can escape but Adam choose not to in order for Kevin to get control of his powers. He gets quite good over the course of the flashbacks displaying cosmic awareness and art skills!

In Australia, the giant robot flying there at the end of last issue has arrived. Long story short, it takes down all the Avengers, though Thor and Hyperion took a bit of effort. Meanwhile on the S.H.I.E.L.D. observation station the stress gets too much for Bruce Banner and he hulks out, so the agents have to deal with that now instead of the signal.

Couple of other loose ends in this issue. We find out that Captain Universe only took Manifold off-world so that he could see what was going on there and report back to the Avengers (she doesn't think they'd believe her as they would confuse a damaged perception with a delusional one). They need to know the machine is still not complete and they need to get bigger. Manifold leaves before five robots/metallic people approach Cap U looking ready to attack. Finally, the staff on A.I.M. island have recovered and decide to reclaim the giant robot using the same machine they captured Hyperion with back in Avengers (Vol. 5) #4.

In General...

Well I can sum this issue up in one word: Filler. Nothing happens to significantly move the story on. The fact I could review the five threads within this issue in three paragraphs speaks for itself. I suppose I could have gone into a bit more detail, but then this is a review not a retelling of the issue; the pertinent things that I think we need to know I’ve covered.

Most of the issue is the battle between the giant robot and the Avengers and is told in splashes with captions of the internal dialogue of the robot. It’s there to protect the user, which I assume is the brainless Earth though I suppose it could be “the machine” that keeps getting spoken of – heck maybe the Earth is the machine, we still don’t really know. Anyway, as I said above, by the end of the issue the robot has stopped each Avenger and now A.I.M. want to recapture it. Let’s hope they’re more prepared this time! I quite liked the robot actually; it reminded me of a baddie in the classic NES series Mega Man (I’m going back a bit here kids!) that I was always fond of playing.

The rest of the issue was a couple of pages here and there to jog our memory and set yet more things up! We get reminded about Nightmask and Starbrand and see they have been training in their absence. Will they turn up to help or hinder next time? We also see the good Dr Banner lose it and go green. By the front cover you’d think this will be a major part of the issue, maybe he’ll join the Avengers in Perth to fight the robot, but no and Hulk’s arrival just gives S.H.I.E.L.D. a few problems. We also see Captain Universe preparing to deal with “bad things” on another planet, which reminds us that the “system is broken” across the whole Universe and not just the Origin bomb stuff localised to Earth. However, I think this is not done very well as nothing “bad” is perceivably happening on this planet. If the idea is to actually show an Avenger the bad things that are going on as they wouldn't believe her just saying it, why bother taking someone to a peaceful looking place only to send them away before a potential threat arrives? I suppose there is a massive spaceship in orbit but it doesn't look particularly threatening. The Universe truly is broken!

Something that did annoy me this issue was how some things got left out. Last issue we had an Aleph receive a signal and a load of spaceships turn up at Earth – neither mentioned this issue. Why set it up in such a sudden way last time and then ignore it? I appreciate they can only fit so much into a book but why not re-jig it a little. They could have put all the Cap U and Manifold stuff in last issue and then put the ships turning up in this one. When this arc gets packaged into a trade paper back it won’t matter too much as it’ll all be together in one book, it’s just a bit too spaced out here and we’ve effectively had two issues of filler. I really hope we get some pay off next issue before the Infinity event begins and that all of this hasn’t just been build up to said event.

All that said, I'm still enjoying the Avengers and the art is constantly beautiful.

Overall Rating...

I marked last issue straight down the middle when maybe it could have been lower, this one I’m definitely marking lower and maybe a bit lower then I should to compensate for my leniency last time!

Footnote...

Captain Universe’s comment about the Avengers getting bigger suggests that the six gaps in the Avengers rota icon at the start of each issue may soon be filled.

I have also subsequently found out that the five robots heading towards Captain Universe are in fact the Spaceknights team, a group of cyborgs from a comic series in the late 70s/early 80s. Sorry, but I've never heard of them and as they aren't actually named within the issue I missed this "blast from the past" reference. I'll acknowledge it here though as a good and subtle appearance of characters from way back.