Comics : New Avengers (Military - AAFES) #3

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Many folks may not know this, but Marvel produces quite a number of "specialty" comics during the course of the year, in addition to its regular line. These specialty comics have Marvel partnering with various commercial and/or pro-social groups and organizations, which license the Marvel characters in order to promote specific issues, causes, agendas, and/or products. This is one of those comics that have Marvel and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) working together on this particular comic. The comic itself was only distributed on U.S. Military bases.

In Detail...

"Avengers & X-Men Time Trouble"
New Avengers (Military - AAFES) #3
Apr 2006 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Writer:  Robert Kirkman
Artist:  Udon
Pencils:  Alex Chung, Scott Hepburn
Inker:  Alan Tam, M3th
Staff Only
Issue
Review

As we begin, Spider-Man is stuck to the side of a building, amicably chatting with Boomerang who is webbed (upside down) to the building (obviously having just been bested by Spidey). Our webbed hero, having once again gotten the upper hand on some Grade B costumed thug, is happy just to bore the guy to tears (which a close-up of Boomerang's face reveals that he is) with whatever pops into his webbed up little head. As Boomerang also has his mouth webbed shut, there is nothing at all he can do to shut out the noise of Spidey. Which is just the way Spidey wants it.

As he is wrapping up his soliloquy Spidey-notices a bright light on the horizon in the direction of Avenger's Tower, and decides that as a hero, and Avenger, (and having wrapped up with Boomerang) he should go and investigate, which he does. As he arrives into the main meeting room, he can't help to notice that all the plate glass windows are shattered, Jarvis is lying face down on the floor, apparently unconscious, and there is a great big blue swirly thing in the middle f the room. This simply can't be good.

After ascertaining that Jarvis is OK, and getting a quick update on what occurred (a rather large fight involving the X-Men, the Avengers occurred, both teams of heroes went through the swirling blue portal. Realizing that, as an Avenger, he is part of something bigger, Spidey feels that it is important that he follow his teammates and friends through the portal to help as best he can.

What he finds on the other side is a vision of a world gone mad. The Avengers and X-Men teams are in the middle of a pitched battle back in WWII, fighting not only with the Cap of the modern era, but alongside the WWII-era Captain America against a hoard of men in armor. Quickly jumping into the fray, Spidey learns from Iron Man that Kang once again attacked the Avengers. It seems that the 30th Century time-traveling villain found a way to mind-control the X-Men, brought them to Avenger's Tower to fight the Avengers.

According to Iron Man, the Avengers managed to free their mutant friends and stop Kang. Unfortunately, Kang, almost immediately, began a new assault (immediately to the heroes, several months later in Kang-time). During the initial battle, the heroes acquired some of Kang's time traveling equipment, and used it to travel into the past to circumvent Kan's plan to kill Captain America in the past, in the hopes that a Cap-less Avengers will be easier for him to defeat in the future.

Now up to speed, Spidey and IM hook up with the other two teams, where they are battling Kang's armored minions. Unfortunately it seems that the heroes are hamstrung by the fact that they don't want to hurt the men in the suit, as much as they want to protect Cap and find Kang; whereupon Kang takes that moment to appear hovering above their heads on some sort of skimmer. Seeing an opening, Wolverine with the help of Colossus springs into action in an attempt to gut the warlord, only to be blasted back to the ground.

Before Kang can deliver a killing shot to the clawed mutant he is peppered with fire from above as Sergeant Fury and the Howling Commandos parachute into the fray (Since this is "the past" Fury doesn't recognize Spidey, but gives him the look that Fury has always gives the wisecracking hero). Kang then brings out a bigger gun threatening to kill everyone unless they bring him Captain America right now! Once again, taking the lead, Cap steps up and starts barking orders.

As the new assault is mounted and met, WWII Cap realizes that all of their efforts are futile and calls a halt to the proceedings. Whereupon he makes an interesting offer to Kang, (whom he doesn't recognize). WWII Cap will go with Kang to the alternate timeline created by the lack of Cap in the future, and if it is different enough from without the presence of Cap, the Star Spangled Sentinel of Liberty will allow Kang to kill him. If, however, if a Cap-less future isn't so different as what currently (futurelly?) exists, Kang has to replace Cap in the time stream and go on his way.

Modern-Day Cap tries to talk him out of it, but WWII Cap won't have any of it, and goes with Kang, as Modern-Day Cap and the other heroes stand around awaiting the outcome. As they do, Modern-Day Cap wonders aloud if he will simply fade away Iron Man says he doesn't think so, but no one really knows. Moments later, Kang and WWII cap return, and a defeated and demoralized Kang releases Cap, and is taken captive by the Avengers.

WWII Cap reveals that, even without him, the Avengers still managed to defeat Kang, as Cap knew they would. The Avengers and X-Men return to Avengers Tower, with the beaten Kang in tow, and all go off in their own directions, with Iron Man citing that he is going to turn Kang over to Fury and SHIELD for incarceration. This leaves the ever-faithful butler, Jarvis in a room full of shattered glass with a broom in his hands.

In General...

Produced in 2006, this comic obviously happened prior to the events of Civil War, and naturally enough, reflect that. Cap and Iron Man are still friendly, Spidey (as noted) is still his cheerful self (and even mentions how MJ and Aunt May are both good). The characterization seems fine, and the differences between the two Caps (confusing, unless you note the differences in cowl and shield designs) certainly stands out.

Utilizing Kang as the villain, plays into the motif of having this stand alone as a timeless tale, and the dialog is crisp, which moves the story along at a brisk pace. The lessen here is that the Avengers (or the military), so long as they remain strong, is certainly more important than the presence or absence of any one particular individual.

Overall Rating...

A good story told well, only it loses half a point for the monochromatic red-hued coloring. (I keep wondering when it became en vogue for comics to be colored as if looking through the bottom of a Vaseline jar? Aren't comics supposed to be full of bright primary colors? Or is that just me?

Footnote...

It is important to keep in mind that this comic happens outside of standard Marvel continuity (it could be considered part of cannon, but that is not official), hence there are no references to anything that was then currently on-going in the Marvel Universe referenced in the comic.

Again, the comic was produced especially for the U.S. Military, and is only sold on Military bases, but can be acquired easily enough off any of the auction sites, and makes a very nice addition to a serious collector's library.