Do you want further proof that the Marvel Adventures line of all-ages comics offers books that adults will enjoy? Then look no further than Marvel Adventures: Avengers, the line's crown jewel, and issue #12...
The world is beset by environmental catastrophes, so many that the Avengers, who occasionally take time off from battling supervillains to provide disaster relief, have split into teams to try and contain the damage. Iron Man is disrupting tornadoes; Giant-Girl is rescuing boats off of the California coast; Storm is quelling, er, storms; Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Hulk are defending civilians from rockslides; and Cap is supervising it all. Well, someone has to do it.
Assembling at Avengers Tower, the de-Hulked Bruce Banner explains that cause of the worldwide disturbances is a planetoid that has recently entered the solar system, and the object's gravitational pull is disrupting Earth's biosphere. The planetoid emits a life signal-- "you mean signals," growls Wolverine. "No," replies Banner, "I'm capable of using plurals when I have to. I meant signal. Just one." No surprise to anyone who's seen the cover, but the source of the signal is the planetoid, which is itself a sentient being: Ego, the Living Planet! The Fantastic Four previously discovered Ego in deep space, but what is it doing so close to Earth? Thankfully it's slowing its approach to match Earth's orbit, so the catastrophes its gravity has induced have ceased, for the moment. (If you say so, Banner.) But something will have to be done about Ego fast. Luckily, Tony Stark has already completed a Quinjet that can handle space travel, so the Avengers prepare to pay Ego a visit.
As the rocket blasts off, Banner promises he won't Hulk out, as he needs to finish the translator that will allow the Avengers to talk to Ego. He does ask that if he does Hulk out, the Avengers eject him from the craft. "Oh, please, Bruce," the Avengers reply. "That's just silly. Like we would ever throw Hulk into space..."
As the Avengers approach Ego, Banner finishes his translator, which reveals that Ego is broadcasting cheesy, Ebonics-inflicted pick-up lines: "I was just cruisin' through your little system here and I said to myself: 'Who is that fine blue number three over there sportin' the ice caps...? Hold up, Miss Thang!" The Avengers' response? "Um... o-kaaay..."
The Avengers don't want to believe it, but according to the translator, Ego is a planet-sized mack daddy hitting on the Earth. There doesn't seem to be a good response to that. Aside from the inherent ickiness of the whole matter, Ego is so large that the Avengers' can't communicate with it, any more than you or I would communicate with or even notice a microbe. Seeing no alternative, they descend to Ego's surface. To make sure that the Avengers get its attention, Wolverine ejects Banner into the atmosphere (see, it wasn't just a joke, it was foreshadowing!) so that the hapless scientist can make a Hulk-sized impact upon landing.
The other Avengers follow up Hulk's collision with lightning bolts, exacerbated volcanoes, and random mayhem. "You hear Hulk, stupid planet? Earth not interested in you! "
Ego is a bit discomfited, feeling "some kinda indigestion down in my southern hemisphere." This distracts him sufficiently from his attempted seduction that he finally hears the Avengers' message about his presence being inimical to Earth's billions of inhabitants. He doesn't respond the way that the Avengers anticipated, though. "My sweet cosmos! You're covered with them...! I'll be back around-- you clean that act up and we can discuss."
As Ego begins shifting his tectonic plates to drive the Avengers off, the heroes quickly board their Quinjet and depart. "Keep going, creep! You don't deserve a planet like Earth!" "Calm down, Janet," puts in Iron Man. "So you're on his side?"
As the Avengers return to Earth and its deliriously happy inhabitants, Giant-Girl asks Cap when he's going to tell them that Ego left because he thought the Earth "gave him cooties." Cap is certain the answer to that question is "never."
Another superlative outing by Jeff Parker and company. A wholly original and entertaining idea, executed with aplomb. The thought of a living planet as pick-up artist and the Avengers as playa-haters for hire is too delicious, and Parker carries it off completely, even finessing the reasons for Ego's departure in such a way that adults will appreciate, while children will So Totally Don't get it. (Ahem.)
The issue's highlight? In reference to the Moon, Ego explains that he is all about commitment. "I see your situation, baby. I know you got a shorty... I'm cool with that."
Five webs. There are a lot of great Avengers-themed books on the stand right now, but if you only buy one, it should be this title.
Three perfect grades from your reviewer, who's a tough marker, in just four issues? Jeff Parker is a writer to watch. But I won't say he deserves assignments in the mainstream 616 titles, because there are absolutely no grounds to consider the Marvel Adventures line as less important than, say, the Ultimates line. Good comics are good comics. Long may Mr. Parker continue to provide us Marvel Adventures readers with them.