The Avengers has been one of Marvel’s title that has had a lot of ups and downs early on in its release schedule. But even with some of its downs Jason Aaron has made the Avengers return to being one of Marvel’s premiere titles. The Avengers series has not been this engaging since Jonathan Hickman’s incredible run on the franchise. With Avengers #700, the tenth issue of this series, Aaron set-up several things as characters like Agent Phil Coulson and the Squadron Supreme made their return. Now with these things going on top of everything the Avengers have been dealing with how will the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes respond? Let’s find out with Avengers #11.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Ed McGuinness and Cory Smith
Inkers: Mark Morales, Scott Hanna and Karl Kesel
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere Phil Coulson talks to someone about how he as a kid he idolized the Captain America but since his death during the superhero war (Civil War II) he has grown up and knows he has to protect the country from the Avengers.
Over at Avengers Mountain Captain Marvel grills Ghost Rider on his Hell Charger car while also making sure he continues studying on their villains. Ghost Rider tries to say something. Captain Marvel quickly shuts him down reminding him that while he did save the world from the Final Host it was his first time doing that and he has a lot of experience he needs to gain. Captain Marvel then leaves Ghost Rider to continue studying while she goes off to a meeting.
Elsewhere, Thor and Jennifer Walters are on a date in the Savage Land. While Thor is enjoying seeing dinosaurs fight Jennifer is not as entertained.
In the Eden Room of Avengers Mountain Black Panther holds an International Super-Summit with heroes from other countries gathered. During the meeting Black Panther promises to provide his allies with all the resources available to him in order to combat the dangers towards Earth. Sunfire wonders what it will take for a country to be an ally of the Avengers Chairman. Black Panther says he wants to avoid the SHIELD’s mistakes and wants to build a support network for all heroes through the Avengers.
Everyone shares their doubts given Black Panther’s past actions as King of Wakanda and Namor’s recent attack. Ursa Major brings up the events in Alaska and how there is no representation from the United States heroes at this meeting, not even Captain America. Ursa Major then tells Black Panther to kiss his ass causing some to laugh.
Back in the Savage Lands after some awkward silence Jennifer decides to teleport home.
Elsewhere, Agent Coulson burns one of his Captain America trading cards in front of someone. The person says they work for General Thunderbolt Ross, meaning they are on the same side. Agent Coulson says he knows the person is working for Black Panther and shoots the person in the leg for it.
Back in the Avengers Mountain’s Eden Room Ursa Major grows frustrated with the meeting and charges at Black Panther. Black Panther quickly has Ursa Major teleported back to Siberia.
Black Panther reveals to the others that he knew Russia didn’t intend to be an ally since they sent Ursa Major rather than Crimson Dynamo to this meeting. Sunfire asks Black Panther about the events in Alaska. Black Panther reveals that Namor attacked a Roxxon Oil Drilling Platform but were stopped by someone that he is still not aware of.
Back in the Savage Lands Thor tries to stop Jennifer from leaving. Jennifer knows that Thor wanted to date She-Hulk not her. Thor says that is not true and his intentions were to get to learn about Jennifer, the person behind She-Hulk. Jennifer transforms into She-Hulk and tells Thor to stop talking. They then kiss.
Back in the Avengers Mountain’s Eden Room Black Panther says while he doesn’t know exactly what went down in Alaska he knows that the United States government no longer sees the Avengers as an ally. He goes on to say they must discover what is going on before the world is set on fire.
Elsewhere Agent Coulson says thanks to telepaths on staff they know that once SHIELD folded the person he has captive went to work for Black Panther. Agent Coulson then reveals the Squadron Supreme of America are the ones that stopped the events in Alaska and that the Avengers will find out about them on their terms.
The person who is captive is confused at why Agent Coulson is acting in the way he is. Agent Coulson calls the person out on trying to act naive just to buy themselves time. The person says they could’ve escaped ten minutes ago but was hoping they didn’t have to kill Agent Coulson. Agent Coulson says the person isn’t allowed to be the hopeful one.
Agent Coulson then kills the person with a shot from his gun. He then says “God Bless America.” End of issue.
The Good: Avengers #11 is a pure set-up issue. There was not a lot more to this issue than setting the stage after Agent Coulson and Squadron Supreme of America secretly made their presence known to the Avengers. All of this set up causes Avengers #11 to only be successful if properly followed up on in future issues as it does not standalone on its own.
The opening scene of Avengers #11 highlights this fact because Phil Coulson returning as a secret agent for the United States has a lot of potential. It is completely different from the role fans are used to seeing Agent Coulson serve in the mainstream. At the same time this is the first time that in the comics that Agent Coulson has shown a distinct personality rather than just the normal pure babyface he has been. This is something that the Marvel Universe does need since SHIELD is not around and both Nick Fury and Maria Hill have been MIA for several years.
Aaron is also doing a good job giving Ghost Rider his own sub-plot as the rookie that everyone is taking under their wing. It gives the reader an honest investment in this version of Ghost Rider since we are seeing Captain America, Captain Marvel and Iron Man try to mentor him in different ways. Getting advice from some of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe will help Ghost Rider’s growth. It’s also a good set-up for a bigger moment down the line for Ghost Rider to use all his lessons and experience alongside his powers.
Black Panther assembling well known heroes from other countries is a smart way to evolve the idea of the Avengers being Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. After all having that type of title must mean that they work to ensure the world is protected. And with how the world is going right now, especially with events like Civil War and Secret Empire in the Marvel Universe, the hero community needs to be united through some network. Black Panther establishing that further emphasizes this fact and puts a spotlight on how the Avengers will work a little differently under his leadership compared to when Captain America or Iron Man have led the team.
While Avengers #11 was stricken by some inconsistency problems when Ed McGuinness was the one working on the pages the story shined. He particularly had a great look for both Thor and She-Hulk. He maximizes the iconic looks of both characters as two physically imposing characters even in the quiet and tender moments.
The Bad: For all the good that Avengers #11 does in setting up the future there are an equal amount of things, if not more, that keep it back from reaching its full potential. One of those problems comes from how dialogue heavy this issue is. The entirety of Avengers #11 is exposition after exposition. There isn’t any sort of action to break up all the dialogue that Aaron rights. This creates a bit of a boredom with what is said because there are multiple pages where it felt that panels were just one big dialogue box and there was no actual art to enhance what was said. That distraction from the art takes away half of what makes comics such a strong medium.
This especially hurt the direction Aaron is setting up for Phil Coulson and the Squadron Supreme of America. Justice League jokes aside, having Agent Coulson explain exactly every little motivation for the new status quo of the Squadron Supreme did not help put the team over. With just a wall of dialogue to put them over there is very little to the believability of the Squadron Supreme being a major threat. Especially if you aren’t familiar with who they are, of which I am one of them, there is nothing connecting the reader to them.
Agent Coulson’s plotline was further hurt by the fact that we never learned who he captured. The person was a nameless grunt who was not important enough to be given a name or view of their face. That made the fact that Agent Coulson killed him for being a double agent working for Black Panther not have the impact it should have.
It would’ve been a major asset to getting the Squadron Supreme over during Avengers #11 would’ve been seeing them in action. We never got to see that since there was only one quick still of one of the Squadron Supreme members in Alaska. It would’ve enhanced Agent Coulson’s long rant to have him talk over things that Squadron Supreme are doing under the United States government orders. Without that Agent Coulson just sounded more like a ranting psychopath than he should have been.
Also because of all the exposition there are several character portrayals that fall completely flat. One of those characters is Captain Marvel. For as great as a character Carol Danvers is Avengers #11 did not help build a case for her being one of Marvel’s most compelling heroes. Instead she just comes off as a jackass who just tells others what to do and then leaves. That is shown with how she runs down Ghost Rider for not studying and then telling him that she does not have time to stick around to teach him the ropes so she just leaves. Adding in how she just unnecessarily talks smack about other heroes does not help build her case of being a hero Avengers fans should invest in.
Avengers #11 is also brought down by the incredibly bland direction of the romance between Thor and She-Hulk. Aaron has rushed this romanced completely. There has been very little build to make the reader believe that this is a romance to get behind. Instead this completely comes off as a fling and nothing more.
What hurts even more is that this has now become the focus of both great characters. Rather than continuing to develop Jennifer Walters’ arc as she goes away from being She-Hulk to just the Hulk we get this romance angle. In doing so it is tough to get behind why she is no longer going by She-Hulk. For the long run, it’ll be much better if Jennifer’s power increase was given more of a focus as there is a lot of untapped potential in this sub-plot that Aaron has created for her.
With how much time was dedicated to explaining things it was odd that there was no sign of what Captain America or Iron Man were doing. Even though Black Panther created an excuse why Captain America and Iron Man weren’t at the Super-Summit it felt cheap. Showing a brief panel or two of where Captain America and Iron Man where would’ve been very helpful in showing how stretched the Avengers are with everything they have on their respective plates.
While Cory Smith’s artwork was not bad there was far to often in his portion of Avengers #11 that he tried to match McGuinness art style but never full accomplishes that. Because of that there were several panels were characters look different from what they were previously drawn. It was particularly problematic during the Black Panther Super-Summit where character designs were very different from one panel to the next.
Overall: Avengers #11 is an example of a comic that had a lot of potential that unfortunately ends up falling flat. The heavy exposition that fills just about every panel turns Avengers #11 into a bit of a chore to read. It does not help that there are several Avengers who are hurt by the dialogue they are given. Hopefully with all this set-up out of the way Jason Aaron can now focus the series on the next big storyline.