Marvel Adventures Avengers #16

Background

In the Marvel Adventures: Avengers universe, Spider-Man fights evil with the Avengers: Captain America, Storm, Giant-Girl, Iron Man, and Wolverine. (No Hulk this issue.)

Story 'Even a Hawkeye Can Cry!'

The Masters of Evil (or MOE, for short) have invaded Stark Tower. They've got a new lineup: the Man-Bull, the Melter, Whirlwind, and a mysterious new leader, eventually revealed as Egghead. "We're newer!" explains the Melter. "And more evil!"

Attacking Stark Tower, which hosts Avengers HQ, hardly seems like a wise plan, but the new MOE hold their own against the defending heroes, until a wild card enters play: enter Hawkeye. Unfortunately, confusion on the Avengers' part as to whether the purple-garbed archer is friend or foe allows Whirlwind, who moves at fantastic speed, to spirit Man-Bull out of the battle. The Avengers are left only with the Melter in custody, and also with Hawkeye, who declares he wants to join the team.

The Avengers are divided on this subject. Storm and Giant-Girl find Hawkeye attractive; Wolverine and Spidey mistrust him and suspect him of being a MOE plant; Cap is undecided but always prefers to keep his enemies close; and Iron Man is too distracted to have an opinion. During the battle, the Melter melted Iron Man's battle armour, which forces Tony Stark to leave active duty while he builds a new suit. As a result, the understaffed Avengers (just where is the Hulk, anyhow?) allow Hawkeye to join their ranks.

Hawkeye's first test comes in mere hours, as the MOE use the Mandroid battle suits they stole from Stark Tower to attempt to free the Melter from police custody. The Avengers try to halt the breakout, in the meantime making innumerable jokes about the name 'Mandroid'. Just as before, they are only partially successful, because while the Mandroids pose little threat, the Avengers, as Cap puts it, "have no countermeasure" for Whirlwind's super-speed. As a result Whirlwind rescues the Melter, restoring the ranks of the MOE to full strength.

In the coming weeks the Avengers thwart several crimes and disasters, but in each case it turns out that the MOE took advantage of the Avengers' distraction to execute a more serious crime. Wolverine's convinced that Hawkeye is a MOE plant and is leaking knowledge of the Avengers' movements to his criminal buddies. (We readers know that's not so, from an earlier cutscene in MOE headquarters, where Egghead mused that it would have been a good idea to put a mole in the Avengers organization, but that he had not in fact done so.) Wolverine and Spidey burst into the library to put a hurt on the archer, but are nonplussed to find that Hawkeye and Storm are necking.

It would have been interesting to see how things would have developed from there, but as this is an all-ages comic, the action is interrupted by a deus (ahem) ex machina in the form of Iron Man, who's repaired his armour and has used it to discover that Captain America's uniform has been bugged. It seems the MOE attack on Stark Tower aimed to plant the listening device, and that the theft of the Mandroids was merely a pretext, which explains why the MOE were willing to sacrifice them so quickly. Using the signals transmitted by the bug, the Avengers track the MOE to their secret hideout, all the while staging a Jerry-Springer-style audio play to distract the MOE. "You stay away from him, Storm, Hawkeye is my man!", etc.

After a quick fight, in which Hawkeye proves his usefulness by taking out Whirlwind with a well-timed blunt arrow, the MOE are defeated! Following this victory, Hawkeye announces his decision to leave the Avengers, for no good reason the story bothers to present. Spidey gives us a lame quip to go out on, and we're done!

General Comments

Readers may detect a hint of impatience on Your Faithful Reviewer's part. There's not a lot to this issue, beyond some extended fight sequences. The dramatic tension in the story should surround the question of whether Hawkeye is a traitor to the Avengers, but we readers are no sooner made aware of the question than a cutscene answers it for us, robbing the story of any impact it might have had. Hawkeye himself comes off as a cipher: he's an archer, and he likes to help people, and girls like him. That's pretty much it. Not very interesting, I'm afraid.

The dialogue is as amusing as ever, though, and that's worth something in a period when 616 Spider-Man is 'back in black', which apparently means 'unrelentingly grim and anguished.' And depicting Whirlwind, when he's in battle, as a spinning cloud, rather than a half-naked man in a green fetish suit with a bullet for a helmet, makes him seem far more effective and menacing.

Overall Rating

Nice touches, but pretty icing won't make an underbaked cake taste good.

Footnote

Here's your stinger:

SPIDEY: "Bad enough you stole this [armour], but you gave it a lame name."

MANDROID: "Webbing can't hold a Mandroid!"

SPIDEY: "Stop saying 'Mandroid!"