Comics : Avengers (Vol. 5) #38

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This review was first published on: Dec 2014.

Background...

It's been a while since a Spider has been in an Avengers comic, so there hasn't been a review for a bit. In that gap a fair amount has happened which may be a little confusing/overloading so I'll try and give just the clip notes!

Captain America discovered (during the Original Sins event) that Tony Stark (and the other Illuminati, of which Steve Rogers was once part of) wiped his mind over a disagreement over how to deal with Incursions (parallel Earths colliding causing the destruction of both universes unless one Earth is destroyed). Steve felt destroying other Earths was totally unacceptable, and whilst the Illuminati didn't necessarily want to destroy other Earths they didn't want Steve to prevent them if there was truly no other option so they mind wiped him to remove the problem. However, and as I said at the start, Captain America had these memories restored by the explosion of the Watcher's eye and this leads to the Avengers falling apart.

However, Avengers comics then time jumped to “8 months from now”. Basically where the rest of the Marvel comics will be 8 months from now, so not an alternate future, more a glimpse of what will happen. Because of this we don't fully know who's on what side and what has happened in the interim (mainly because it hasn't happened yet and it would spoil the current titles if we knew what was going to happen). We do know that of the Avengers we were used to, some work for the “Illuminati”, some work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the others didn't want to fight friends so just stop being “Avengers” altogether. Also Sunspot has purchased A.I.M. so they aren't evil anymore. That was 2 months ago, so this comic is “6 months from now”.

I think that's it. Oh, just in case you don't know currently Thor Odinson isn't worthy of wielding Mjolnir (also as a result of the Original Sin event) so there is a new female Thor and Steve Rogers's super soldier serum has been nullified so he is now an old man and Sam “Falcon” Wilson is the current Captain America. Oh yeah and in the current Marvel event, AXIS, has made some good guys bad and some bad guys good, whether that contributed to the Avengers disbanding or whether this inversion has been fixed “8 months from now” is unclear.

Phew! Longest. Background. Ever.

In Detail...

"Origin Sites"
Avengers (Vol. 5) #38
Jan 2015 : SM Spin-Off App
Summary: Spider-Woman Appears
Editor:  Tom Brevoort, Wil Moss
Assistant Editor:  Jake Thomas
Writer:  Jonathan Hickman
Artist:  Stefano Caselli
Cover Art:  Simone Bianchi
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Colorist:  Frank Martin
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Pod (the name Sunspot has given to the Robot hatched from the Origin Bomb way back in Avengers (Vol. 5) #14) is flying over Japan (site of the Origin Bomb first seen in Avengers (Vol. 5) #2). Pod treats us to a flashback as to how it was an Origin Bomb that crashed, was recovered by A.I.M. before hatching and being sent to attack the Avengers. Pod was then recaptured by A.I.M., sent to the void between Universes and eventually recovered by All-New Sunspot owned A.I.M. (We find out a bit later on that Pod had actually merged with a girl from Norway when it crashed and so it's like a sentient Iron Man armour then a robot.)

In the Savage Land, Bobby da Costa is briefing his version of the Avengers (i.e. the ones that aren't Illuminati or S.H.I.E.L.D. that include Spider-Woman) as to his plan to prevent the destruction of the Multiverse. He's sending a team across the Multiverse to stop whoever's responsible. He's doing this because the Illuminati have also sent someone and he knows this because Beast has confessed all to him. Sunspot also wants to reunite all the Avengers, to stop the in fighting and remind them of who they were and who they really are.

All of these plans are going to be tricky to execute but fortunately Bobby da Costa has many tools available to him: some provided by A.I.M., some provided by the “Avengers World” created by Ex Nihilo's remaining Origin Bombs (self-sustenance, self-defence, evolution and replication). Shang Chi has learnt to work the final bomb site and an army of Shangs have been replicated and are ready to go...

In General...

This was quite a complicated review to write and I read it back many times to make sure it makes sense. Even now I'm not sure it is that easy to follow. Part of that is due to the gap between Avengers comics' reviews, part of that is due to the history of this volume of Avengers comics and part of it is due to the jump into the future.

It's this last reason that I'm not to fond of the current Avengers storyline. It sounds great, set the comic where all the build up has happened and all that is left is pay off. But that is not what this comic does. What it does do is tease things that are going to happen, things that will happen in 6 months time, things that we won't (or can't) know the answer to for 6 months. We just can't. Else no one would buy a related comic for 6 months as their storyline would have been spoilt by this comic. However, when Jonathan Hickman took over a lead writer of Avenger comics two years ago, their stories tend to take a long time to get anywhere. Therefore starting it set in the future now means by the time we get any answers or revelations to the storyline, the other related comics would have caught up. Take the first storyline of the Avengers_World comic for example. It took 14 issues (a year) to tell the story of what happen in one day. One day! That's how drawn out these stories are!

Part of me is impressed at the ability to plot that far in advance. As a fan of continuity and links to previous stories, I can certainly see the rewards for the longtime reader. Origin Bombs were the main part of the first arc of this volume of Avengers, the function of the Origin Bombs were first described in Avengers (Vol. 5) #9, Pod appears in Avengers (Vol. 5) #15 and Heck they have even linked Incursions to the current Spider-Verse event during Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) #7 (Story 2). That's a pretty impressive long game with lots of links to previous comics. Good luck if you're a new reader!

Anyway, I suppose as I'm four paragraphs in I should try to review this comic. Sunspot is clearly the man with a plan. The Avengers, the team he idolised as a child, have disbanded and are fighting each other. This seems to be mainly due to the Illuminati betraying Steve Rogers, but maybe AXIS plays a part too, time will tell. Bobby is trying to reunite the Avengers whilst also dealing with the threat of the destruction of the Multiverse. He has a spy in the Illuminati, he is using Black Widow and Spider-Woman to help get inside S.H.I.E.L.D. and he is using the gifts Ex Nihilo sent to the make upgrade the Earth to help save it, taking over A.I.M. to assist in the process. I mentioned that the Japanese bomb site had been forgotten about in my review of Avengers (Vol. 5) #22, well not anymore! It been found and used. He also has recruited Pod and the upgraded Validator from Avengers (Vol. 5) #10 to help. Quite what Sunspot's Avengers need with an army of Shang Chis and all the others, I don't know – and let's face it we won't know for 6 months – but it is certainly intriguing. Whether this intrigue will last for another 6 months, to be honest I doubt. I'm all for innovative story telling and telling a story out of order, whilst not necessarily original, certainly is different to the norm. I'm just not sure how long I will find stories that can't go anywhere interesting. Hopefully I'll be wrong and upcoming instalments to this arc will be revealing and/or interesting. We'll find out - there's still 6 months to go!

Overall Rating...

Tough one to score. Not filler as we got to find out about Pod and the Japanese Origin Bomb site (finally), but too much tease and not enough substance to score high. Good art and the return of a Spider to the Avengers help. Straight down the middle it is.