Marvel Adventures Avengers #29

Background

Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin—still collaborating on this title, apparently—bring us a tale featuring the original Marvel Adventures: Avengers line-up, namely Captain America, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Wolverine, Storm, and Giant-Girl.

Story 'The All-Father is All-Bother, aka Wingmen Assemble!!'

  Marvel Adventures Avengers #29
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Rodney Buchemi
Lettering: Dave Sharpe

Spider-Man is loitering around Avengers Tower. He's saved from boredom when Odin drops in unexpectedly. It's the team-up you always wanted to see!

Odin wants to make peace with the Frost Giants of Asgard, so he's betrothed his son Thor to Sfiera, a Frost Giant princess. Thor needs to be informed of this development, so Odin has come to Midgard to find his absent child. Spidey, thinking fast, gives Odin a tour of the building to show that Thor isn't on the premises. Too bad for Spidey, because of course Thor is in the Tower: he and Storm are hiding in the meeting room, and Spidey just manages to divert Odin's attention from the pair. As Spider-Man will find out later, Thor and Storm are dating, and the Avengers as a whole are keeping the relationship from Odin because he wouldn't approve. Thankfully Wolverine shows up and Odin, thinking him a troll, smacks him upside the head. This provides a diversion for the romantic duo to sneak out the back.

The two make small talk about the different sorts of lightning they create, which provides Thor with opportunity to seduce Storm with sweet words. (In fairness, this part is written quite well: one of the issue's high points. The idea that the two are interested in, and attracted to, each other is completely plausible here.)

Meanwhile, the Avengers have bet Odin that, despite his disdain for mortal cuisine, he'd love the food at a local restaurant. The heroes have a brief contre-temps with perennial Thor foes Mr. Hyde and the Cobra on the way in, but nothing too serious. The Avengers' arrival puts a crimp on Thor and Storm's dinner date: in a twist worthy of Three's Company, the pair is dining out at the same restaurant at the same time!

The whole situation is resolved when Mr. Hyde and the Cobra skulk back to the restaurant and get tough with Sfiera outside. This prompts Odin, Thor, and the rest of the Avengers to bust out of the restaurant and give the villainous pair what-for. Odin even gets to shout "Avengers Assemble!" which gives the All-Father a real thrill.

In the aftermath, Odin decides that Storm, with her lightning and moxie, is a much better match for Thor than Sfiera. These two aren't ready to tie the knot just yet, but at least they don't need to conceal their relationship any longer. We conclude with a gratuitous beat-down of Wolverine by Odin. There are reasons for this, but there's no need to go into them.

General Comments

There's a lot of nice touches in this issue.

  • It's nice to see the original lineup of Avengers in action; the upcoming solicits for this title suggest we won't see that again for some time, if ever.
  • The romantic back-and-forth between Thor and Storm is nice. It's not an obvious match, but Parker and Tobin make it seem natural and likely, and in just a few panels.
  • Odin is well done. Gruff, obstinate, charming, jolly, excited; he's good fun. Odin and Spider-Man hanging out is nothing I'd ever thought I'd see, but it comes out well.

The most interesting development from the critic's perspective is noting the part of the story that doesn't work, namely, the supervillains. Cobra and Mr. Hyde are simply not credible as antagonists: they are introduced to the story too late, and they are so underpowered relative to the protagonists—the original lineup of seven Avengers, plus Thor and Odin—that you simply can't take them seriously. As a result, the pair comes off more as an irritating distraction from the main story, which is the efforts of the Avengers to keep Odin from discovering what`s really going on with Thor.

It's now perfectly clear what Jeff Parker has brought to this book that other writers like Marc Sumerak and Ty Templeton did not. Other writers treated the book as a superhero team book aimed at a younger audience; Parker has treated it as a humour book occasionally leavened with superhero action. It's been a successful formula. With Parker apparently leaving the writing duties entirely to Tobin (it's not clear when, as Marvel's solicits have been confused on this point, but it may be as early as next issue) I hope that Tobin continues along the trail that Parker has blazed.

Overall Rating

Yes, it's a sit-com episode... but it's an entertaining sit-com episode! Too bad the superhero action feels so forced. So, to put it in sit-com speak: you take the good, you take the bad, you take it all and there you have a rating of three webs.

Footnote

Stinger:

IRON MAN: "Let's show Odin how we do things on Earth!"

SPIDER-MAN: "Okay, but don't we mostly just hit things? I think that's what they do there, too."