Comics : New Avengers (Military - AAFES) #1

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This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

Over the years Marvel has produced numerous "specialty" comics that have partnered the publisher with various pro-social groups and corporations utilizing the various Marvel characters to promote specific causes or products. This particular special comic was produced by Marvel and distributed exclusively on U.S. Military bases.

The New Avengers and the Fantastic Four unearth a Kree Spaceship that was buried in the Louisiana Bayou for a millennium and then must deal with the Kree warriors as they revive from their cryogenic sleep, and attempt to prevent them from fighting a battle that has been over for years.

In Detail...

"Special Guests"
New Avengers (Military - AAFES) #1
May 2005 : SM Guest
Summary: New Avengers (including Spider-Man) & FF battle Kree
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Dan Jurgens
Inker:  Sandu Florea
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Review

A conservation group discovered an unusual object in the Louisiana Bayou, and notified the military, which called SHIELD, which called in Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic. Upon arrival at the site, the pair of heroes determines that the object is a space ship that has been in this spot for so long that the ground quite literally grew up around it.

Needing to do more tests, they unearth the ship and bring it back to Avengers' Tower, where they meet up with the other Avengers and the rest of the FF. After some discussion about the age of the craft and the wisdom of cracking it open in the middle of Manhattan. Iron Man points out that not only do they have access to the most sophisticated equipment on the planet at Avengers' Tower, but also there is a specially constructed, super-strong Plexiglas dome that covers the top of the tower, which should prevent any problems for the city.

Positioning the Avengers and Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic has Wolverine, Sentry, The Thing, pry the hatch open to reveal a spherical orb inside. Concerned that Iron Man is still getting no reading off either the ship or the object inside, Mr. Fantastic dons a glove and touches the orb. Needless to say, all get-out cuts loose. The orb begins to glow and spews forth a phalanx of Kree warriors, who see the assembled heroes as a threat and do what Kree warriors do. The attack.

Punching Ben Grimm and Luke Cage through the unbreakable protective dome over Avengers' Tower (both of whom are saved from splating on the sidewalk below by The Sentry, while Spider-Man does his level best to catch all of the falling Plexiglas. Meanwhile the combined might of the two teams leap into the breach as they defend themselves from the alien aggressors.

To make matters worse (if you can imagine that), the Kree are speaking an ancient dialect of their language which (quite obviously) none of the Earth heroes speak. Mr. Fantastic chimes in that he actually does have a universal translator, only it is back at his lab. As the battle rages on, he asks if Iron Man can access the FF's computer on-line, which Iron Man attempts, only to find that he is locked out. Reed shouts out his system's password (and given that he is who he is, the password is an easy mnemonic -- HeRBIE55454675672. "Thanks for making it easy," Iron Man says.).

As soon as the system is loaded up, Iron Man addresses the alien combatants. Startled to hear their mother tongue, the Kree stop their aggression, and inquire as to who the Earthers are. Iron Man informs them that the Avengers and FF are also warriors, and Earth is their home. The Kree respond that they though the heroes were Skrulls. To which Iron Man responds that the Kree/Skrull war has been over for years, with the Kree victorious.

Startled, the Kree react badly, as they were sent to Earth to set up an outpost to launch an assault against the Skrulls, and are shocked to learn that quite possibly several millennia have passed since then as they have lain dormant. Iron Man then retracts the dome and shows the Kree that a city exists below them, not the primordial forest they had expected. Accepting the Avengers' word, the Kree activate a teleportation device, and fade from view, leaving behind the rubble from their battle, and the heroes to clean up the mess.

In General...

This was a very entertaining story, that played well with current Avenger/FF continuity (a rare treat for a specialty comic of this nature). The dialogue flowed smooth and the art was top-flight (with attention paid to the background of each panel, always a plus). Plus the concept of a squad of Kree buried under the muck of a Louisiana bayou is particularly plausible, Plus the interaction of the heroes amongst themselves (as well as intra-team) was totally in character. This could have very easily been a special in-continuity one-shot (and there is nothing to suggest that it isn't).

Overall Rating...

As stated in the intro, this is a specialty comic that was distributed exclusively to U.S. Military bases. Unlike other comics of this genre it is not clear what company (if any) co-sponsored this comic, but it is clear that it was distributed to the military community, as several of the ads specifialy target the military (insurance, The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (www.fallenheroesfund.org), etc. Several of the ads seem to be from a company called AAFES BX/PX (aafes.com) which services the military).

Footnote...

The only question I have is that When Reed says that his Universal translator is back in his lab, he says that it is in the Baxter Building, only I thought that the Baxter Building had long since given way to Four Freedoms Plaza. Still perhaps the building is still named Baxter, but the entire complex is Four Freedoms Plaza. Needless to say, this is the only real continuity glitch that I spotted, which didn't spoil any of my complete enjoyment of this comic.

There are two also full-page pin-ups (one for each team) at the end of the main story.

After this review was filed, a fan (one Stephen Ellis) reported the following information on The Baxter Building/Four Freedom's Plaza question:

"Back in Fantastic Four #40, the Baxter Building was finished being rebuilt if I remember correctly. It was right before everyone in The Fantastic Four except Johnny Storm were trapped in the Negative Zone for a short period of time, also right before Galactus' skull crashed down to Earth. The original builder of the Baxter Building even assisted Reed in constructing the new building."