Comics : Avengers (Vol. 5) #17

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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: After successfully defeating the creatures from two pods, the Avengers are beaten by a giant robot that hatched from the A.I.M. pod. Stress had got to Bruce Banner and he hulked out. Nightmask and Starbrand have been training whilst on Tony Stark’s Dyson Sphere. Captain Universe took Manifold to another planet and A.I.M. decide they want to recapture the giant robot

Yes a lot has been set up!

In Detail...

"...to the Light"
Avengers (Vol. 5) #17
Oct 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man & Spider-Woman Appear
Arc: Part 4 of "The Signal"
Editor:  Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort
Writer:  Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer
Artist:  Marco Checchetto, Marco Rudy, Stefano Caselli
Cover Art:  Leinil Francis Yu, Sunny Gho
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Colorist:  Frank Martin
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In Perth, the giant robot stands amongst the fallen Avengers when he is approached by Superia and her A.I.M. team. She calmly talks to it, saying they know it originated from Mars but they don’t know its purpose and they can help train it. A.I.M. then use the same machine they captured Hyperion with in Avengers (Vol. 5) #4 and trap the robot in the same void from which they recovered the Avenger. The A.I.M. team then start to collect DNA samples from the fallen Avengers for another “project”. Unfortunately for them Manifold appears and is not happy with the scene he sees, so angrily teleports the A.I.M. scientists away to random locations.

Later and the recuperated Avengers are meeting to discuss the message Captain Universe gave to Manifold (they need to get bigger) and that she planted an image in his head of a red planet and a yellow sun. Captain America dismisses the team allowing him, Iron Man and Bruce Banner to discuss what they are going to do. Bruce points out that, whilst Cap U is crazy, she has never been wrong.

Captain Marvel, Manifold & Cap A go to Mars (the red planet) and recruit Ex Nihilo and Abyss, whilst Iron Man & Bruce go to the Dyson sphere (by our yellow sun) to get Nightmask and Starbrand. The Avengers just got bigger!

In General...

First of, my review makes mention to Infinity #1, which came out the week after this issue. Whilst I don’t necessarily spoil anything within Infinity, this comic is strongly linked to it hence me referencing it. I’m just being honest up front that I have read Infinity and that has affected my review of this issue.

I am not happy with this issue/arc. It started so well but ultimately it’s all been set up for the Infinity event. As anyone who has read my reviews for Avengers (Vol. 4) or New Avengers (Vol. 2) will know I hate it when events take over comic lines and disrespect that comic. If you’re going to have a tie-in comic/arc within a comic line then any story, whilst related to the event, should play out within that comic. I don’t mind the occasional crossover event which makes me buy a comic I wouldn’t normally, like the upcoming “Sibling Rivalry” story in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #2 which concludes in Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #20 because that’s just one issue and they make it clear from the start the story plays out in another comic. Here we’ve had four issues of Avengers building up an event I might not even buy. (Though for a change I am actually buying the Infinity event’s comics – though not necessarily all the tie-ins; I may regret this!)

So what has happened in the past four issues that has been of significance to the Avengers and has moved their story on? Pods have hatched and their inhabitants beaten and they have four new members (two of which I guessed may happen in Avengers (Vol. 5) #7). That’s it isn’t it? All the rest has been the set up of threads for Infinity. It’s not that I’m against set-up issues, I appreciate they are needed especially in multi-issue arcs, but I don’t like getting to the end of a comic/arc and realise that I know nothing more at the end then I did at start. Let’s look at the loose ends left that were set up in this arc. The signal being sent by the giant insects received by an Aleph, the spaceships turning up at Earth and some Skrulls getting through the capture net S.W.O.R.D. deployed, Captain Universe on another planet. All these things then play out in Infinity. I just think it’s a shame that one of Marvel’s lead comics has been used to set up Infinity so blatantly; events are meant to fit around the standard comics not the other way around.

Deep breath, let’s try and pick out some bits I liked about this comic or at least some bits that are more specific to the Avengers. A.I.M. have recaptured the giant robot so that’ll probably come back to haunt the Avengers at some point, as will their collection of Avenger DNA – hopefully it’s not going to be another evil clone or adaptoid or Dark Avengers storyline, the likes of which we have seen many times before. There were also some funny lines; Cannonball and Smasher not wanting the “crowded” team to get much bigger than it already is (Avengers Tower apparently only has two showers!) which then sets Spider-Woman up for a shower joke later. I also liked Ex Nihilo adapting the symbol on his chest into an “A” following his induction into the Avengers and Bruce Banner waking up naked with no idea where he is being a regular Wednesday (the day new comics are released). Not sure if I liked Bruce hulking out in this arc or not; whilst it reminds us that although Bruce has the Hulk under control nowadays even he loses it sometimes but ultimately the Hulk did nothing in this story so why bother including it.

Finally the art. I’ve liked the art in pretty much every issue of this volume of the Avengers so far and whilst it’s not necessarily bad in this issue it is inconsistent (and I’m not just talking my about usual bugbear of Captain Marvel’s hair). This is because there are three artists working on this issue, which isn’t normally a great thing. Ex Nihilo looks particularly scrawny in his first appearance compared to how he normally looks and how he appears later in the same comic. The cover is also very misleading; it has a female version of Ex Nihilo with two builders, none of whom appear in this issue (though they do appear in Infinity – ARGH! even the cover is set up for another comic)

Overall Rating...

This is an Avengers comic and too many things happen in this issue/arc that set up Infinity. I therefore cannot score it very well as an Avengers comic in its own right but there were a few things I liked so it’s not got the lowest score possible. Ultimately though it's all set up with no (or very little) reward :(