Marvel Adventures Avengers #19

Background

Yes, we're still doing lame crossovers.

This month? Quicksilver.

Try to restrain your excitement.

Story 'Walk Tall'

Hoo boy, summarizing this issue is likely to take as long as the issue itself. There are oodles and oodles of story in this one.

Off we go:

Quicksilver, late of the Avengers—he either quit, or was fired, following a difference of opinion with the good Captain—has picked up a hottie in a bar. This being a kids' book, the date can't go where one might expect it to. Quicksilver does end up handcuffed, though.

Turns out his new friend, Dr. Sarah Brawl, seduced Pietro so that she could turn expose him to an alien goo she collected in her day job as first responder to alien crashes on U.S. soil. (Yes, really.) Said goo can absorb the DNA, and superpowers, of whomever it touches. Initially, it has Brawl`s DNA, giving it bipedal form and the ability to obey Brawl's orders in a rudimentary fashion. After touching Pietro`s check, the 'adaptoid' now has his superspeed as well. Brawl is pleased, and tells Quicksilver that the other Avengers will be next on the Adaptoid's to-touch list.

Cut to a Manhattan bank, a short time later, where the superfast Adaptoid robs the vault with ease, then hangs around outside, all the while easily eluding the efforts of conventional law enforcement to capture it. The cops are perplexed by this behavior, but we readers know the score: it`s waiting for the Avengers to turn up. Right on cue, Spidey appears. The two tangle very briefly (for all of two panels) before Quicksilver shows up. He's escaped from his bonds and is desperate to help his friend. Unfortunately, the distraction he provides prompts Spider-Man to leave himself open to a superfast grope from the Adaptoid, which then drops its loot and web-swings away, Pietro in hot pursuit.

Cut to even later, when some other Avengers have arrived by Quinjet to retrieve their comrade, who is feeling too poorly to return home on his own. Apparently having one`s DNA adapted makes you want to puke. Cap and Iron Man escort the weakened wall-crawler back to Avengers Tower, where they rendezvous with Banner and Giant-Girl. In a nice nod to issue #10, Janet is teaching Bruce how to play World of Slaycraft. The game is interrupted by the sudden entrance of Quicksilver, come to warn his former comrades about the threat of the Adaptoid. The Avengers aren't impressed: why would Brawl just tell Pietro of her plans?

Unless...

Yes, that's right, Pietro has played into Brawl's hands a second time, allowing her and her goo to sneak into the Tower right behind him, evading all of the Tower's security mechanisms in the process. A very talky fight ensues, but in the end, the Adaptoid's use of spider-webbing at super-speed imprisons the Avengers decisively. Brawl now forces the Adaptoid to adapt Banner's DNA, but the goo does not exhibit any Hulky traits. Is this because Banner wasn't the Hulk at the time of the adaptation, or because the Adaptoid needs to become angry before that power can manifest?

While Brawl ponders the puzzle, Quicksilver, who was knocked out right at the beginning of the fight and never immobilized in webbing, rouses himself and has a flash of inspiration. Moving like the wind, Pietro grabs Brawl's Adaptoid remote, frees his friends, and... forces the Adaptoid to adapt Captain America's DNA?

There's a method to his madness. The Adaptoid was too powerful to defeat, and seemed loyal to Brawl: the remote only forced the Adaptoid to adapt DNA, not to obey her orders. But Pietro has worked out that the Adaptoid also adapts to its target's character. Having adapted Spider-Man's powers, it also took his good nature and abandoned its stolen loot. Having adapted Banner, it took his aversion to conflict and ceased to act offensively, only defending itself, not attacking. And having adapted the noble Captain America, the Adaptoid no longer wishes to serve the wicked Dr. Brawl, and permits the Avengers to take her into custody.

General Comments

Man, there was a lot of story this issue. Lots-lots-lots. We had two major characters, i.e. Quicksilver and Dr. Brawl, each of whom with their own backstories, motivations, abilities, and relevant personality quirks; an Adaptoid who resembles its 616 counterpart in name only, with unique capabilities upon which the story turns; and brief but important-to-the-plot appearances by most of the Avengers (no Storm or Wolverine).

I'm as big a fan of done-in-one issues as anyone can be, but even I think this was too much story to tell in 22 pages. It's falling all over itself to advance the plot, but at the expense of allowing us to enjoy whatever scene we're watching; each scene, as it begins, is being hurried along to allow the next one to arrive.

I think the Adaptoid and Brawl are great characters. The story's problem is trying to introduce them at the same time as Quicksilver. Had this story been (ahem) adapted to feature simply the core Avengers, plus their antagonists, I don't think it would have had any pacing problems at all.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Let's end the guest star parade! It is really hurting the book.

Overall Rating

I would have given this story three stars—giving the readers too much story is a sin, but a minor one—except for the truly awful art provided by Stephen Molnar. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was hurried, but for every good panel there are three more that suck. Dr. Brawl is drawn well—more practice with glamour girls, there, Stephen?—but Spider-Man and his webbing look like childish scrawls, and Iron Man is just hideous. I read these books for the story, and all I ask is that the art not detract from it. But it sure does here.

Footnote

This is Ty Templeton's last issue for this book, for the moment at least. SpiderFan reader 'sanityormadness' writes in to say that "Marc Sumerak... takes over MAdvAv with #20. Parker quit 'for a while', saying he was burned out on done-in-ones." Thanks, sanityormadness! And while I hope for Parker's swift return, I have confidence in Sumerak's abilities, based on his work on Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius.

I wonder if Sumerak will follow up all of the foreshadowing Templeton worked into last issue?