We here at the Revolution have been excitedly waiting for Aaron and McGuinness to take control of the Avengers franchise. The Avengers franchise has been on hard times ever since the All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One Initiative really drove this flagship title into the ground. Well, Aaron and McGuinness delivered the goods with Avengers #1. The debut issue of this new creative team created that fantastic classic Avengers goodness. Avengers #1 also treated the readers with a cool opening story arc with the Final Host and a great roster.
Words: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Ed McGuinness
Inks: Mark Morales & Jay Leisten
Colors: David Curiel
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with an unknown character narrating this issue. The unknown character narrates Steve, Tony, and Thor racing into battle against the Final Host. Plus, the unknown character clearly has a long history with the Avengers based on the narration. The unknown character also says that he is taking credit for getting the real Avengers back together again. The unknown character says that he has made magic before with less. (Now, based on the narration and the fact that the unknown character’s narration boxes are in green I have a fairly good idea who this unknown person is. This has to be Loki.)
We see Ghost Rider battling the alien bugs, we see Doctor Strange and Black Panther also battling alien bugs, and we see Carol Danvers trying to stop a dead Celestial’s corpse from crashing into New York City.
We shift to East LA, with Robbie Reyes taking down the alien bugs. Robbie tells his little brother that he will be back soon. Robbie hops into his Hell Charger (Seriously, now that Dodge makes a Challenger Hellcat and a Challenger Demon they should really pick one of those two cars for Robbie to drive. The names of the two Challengers make them obvious matches for Ghost Rider. And it would still have Robbie driving a muscle car. Robbie’s character is already stupid. They might as well get some corporate ad dollars out of Robbie’s character.)
The voice narrates that what is going on now was set in place one million years ago. However, there is one person involved in all of this who was not part of the plan on million years ago. We cut to She-Hulk in front of a corpse of a Celestial. Jen tries to tell herself to keep calm. Suddenly, some of the alien bugs appear and attack Jen.
Jen says that the bugs don’t know what they are doing. That Jen can’t let it out. Suddenly, we see Jen transform into She-Hulk. She-Hulk yells, “Hulk! Squish!” She-Hulk is now built like the Hulk rather than how she has been drawn since her creation in 1980. (STEROIDS AREN’T JUST FOR MEN, BRO!!!!) She-Hulk attacks the alien bugs. (Oh, man. it is so sad to see such a great character like Jen/She-Hulk reduced to such a cheap and pathetic knockoff version of Bruce Banner/Hulk. I am genuinely stunned.)
We see one of the Final Host swatting Thor away as if he was a fly. Iron Man is marveling at the Celestial’s armor and weaponry while still trying to take them down. However, Tony realizes that there is not tech that they have that can compare with the Celestials.
We see She-Hulk battling the bugs. She-Hulk talks just like Hulk. (Sigh) Suddenly, the red Celestial that Jen thought was dead springs to life and takes out a bunch of the alien bugs. She-Hulk then says that she hears the Celestial’s voice in her head. The Celestial is named Eson. She-Hulk asks Eson, “What..is..Cure? Cure for wha…” Suddenly, She-Hulk gets transported out of the scene.
We shift to Ghost Rider driving through the desert. Ghost Rider is freaking out about the appearance of the Celestials and the alien bugs. Suddenly, She-Hulk teleports right in front of his car.
We hop back to New York City where Iron Man, Captain America and Thor are still trying to make a scratch on the Final Host. Tony says that they need to figure out how to communicate with the Celestials. That they need Jean Grey or the Eternals on the scene. Tony says that the Celestials may not be as hostile as they think they are. Captain America tells Tony to tell that to Thor. We see one of the Final Host swatting Thor away once again.
Carol swoops in and grabs Thor. Thor says that he is wearing the Celestial down. Thor says he heard the Celestial’s knuckle crack on that last blow. Carol says that she has dealt with the Celestials before. Carol unveils a couple of Omega-level warp grenades attuned to the coordinates of the sun.
We then shift to She-Hulk smashing Ghost Rider’s car. She-Hulk yells, “RRRRRGGGHHH!!! Hulk hate puny car!!!” (Oh, this is just awful.) Ghost Rider then blasts She-Hulk with his hellfire. She-Hulk yells, “GRRRGGGH! HULK SMASH!!!” (Jesus. It just keeps getting more painful. Poor Jen. What have they done to you?) Ghost Rider retorts, “Yeah, and the Ghost Rider burns, baby. Ghost Rider then thinks to himself, ”I hate my life!!!” (Good lord. This is terrible reading.)
We slide back to New York City. Iron Man and Carol with the Omega-level warp grenades in tow fly toward the main Celestial. Suddenly, the main Celestial blasts the quinjet that is being piloted by Captain America. Thor streaks in to rescue Steve.
Suddenly, Eson the Celestial stands up and punches the main Celestial of the Final Host.
We cut back to Ghost Rider brawling with She-Hulk. Ghost Rider tells She-Hulk that he is not her enemy. Suddenly, more alien bugs come out of the ground and surround Ghost Rider and She-Hulk. Ghost Rider says that She-Hulk and he have to work together against the alien bugs.
The mysterious person continues to narrate that the heroes call themselves the Avengers but that they do not even comprehend the meaning of that word. The mysterious person asks what do these heroes have to avenge? The mysterious person asks if they have been scorned and rejected their entire lives even by those they call family? Have they been hunted and hounded to the ends of the Earth? The mysterious person says, “No. That’s just me.”
We see Eson the Celestial collapsing. We see Steve Rogers still trapped in the main Final Host Celestial’s hand. Captain America tells Tony and Carol to go ahead and detonate the warp grenades. Carol refuses saying that they are going to get Steve clear first.
We then see Carol, Thor, and Iron Man all getting zapped by one of the Final Host Celestials. The mysterious person says then narrates that they are the one who actually does any avenging. That there wouldn’t even be an Avengers if it weren’t for them.
We then see a full page splash shot of the mysterious narrator. It is Loki. We see Loki in the air next to the main Celestial from the Final Host. That Final Host Celestial is holding the head of Eson the Celestial in his hands. Loki says that he is the greatest Avenger who has ever lived.
Loki tells our heroes that they have met Loki’s new friends: The Final Host. Loki says that he is just here to lend a helping hand as the Final Host avenge the greatest wrong of all time and correct the grievous mistake they made one million years ago. Loki says that this is salvation through global extinction and that it begins now. End of issue.
The Good: Wow. Avengers #2 was a really disappointing read. Aaron took a massive step backward with this issue. Having said that, there were some positives to this issue. The biggest plus to Avengers #2 is the amount of action that is packed into this issue. There is tons of action and lots of fighting from cover to cover. To be sure, this is not a slow and boring read. Aaron gives us some classic super hero brawling in nearly every single page.
Avengers #2 is also a fast paced read. The reader will blitz through this issue in no time at all. Aaron races from scene to scene with zero hesitation.
One of the biggest strengths of Avengers #1 was Aaron’s selection for the main antagonists in this opening story arc. The Final Host are a cool Jack Kirby concept. Celestials are always fun and they present a massive cosmic threat that makes the story feel epic and grand.
Well, the good choice of villains got even better with the addition of Loki. Loki is a fantastic classic Avengers villain. It is hard not to love this character. He is always so much fun.
I dig the inclusion of Loki into the story. Aaron is in the process or resurrecting the Avengers franchise from the rubble and ruin of the All New All Different Avengers. Aaron is emphasizing tradition with the reuniting of Tony, Steve, and Thor as the undisputed foundation of the Avengers franchise. Therefore, there is no other villain that thematically fits with the rebirth of the Avengers franchise than Loki. After all, it was Loki back in Avengers #1 in 1963 who first caused the Avengers to come together.
Aaron does an excellent job handling Loki’s character. I love the concept of “What is an Avengers?” that Aaron has Loki play with in this issue. Aaron brilliantly points out how upon examine the actual definition of the word avenge that Loki has more to avenge than the Avengers. I also enjoyed that Aaron has Loki believe that he is the founder of the Avengers. This is the type of megalomania that is a trademark aspect of Loki’s personality. It also emphasizes to the reader how Loki is the master at distorting reality into whatever best suits him at the moment.
Aaron also does a wonderful job with Loki’s narration. The reader can immediately recognize Loki’s voice just in the first page of this issue. Now, if Aaron meant this to be a surprise reveal then this is a negative. However, if Aaron was not trying to make this a surprise reveal then he deserves credit for being able to write Loki’s external voice so well that the reader can recognize it is Loki without having to see Loki on the page. That is an impressive feat for a writer to pull off.
Loki easily receives the best crafted dialogue in this issue. And it is not even close. Loki also receives the best character work, too. Aaron succeeds in making Loki a complex and compelling character. I am more than excited to see what Aaron has in store for Loki as this story arc unfolds.
Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, and Jay Leisten all combine to deliver some flat out amazing artwork in Avengers #2. This is a gorgeous looking issue. McGuinness gives this issue a classic super hero look. The action explodes off the page at the reader. There is no much energy and intensity to the fight scenes. McGuinness also does an impressive job with the characters’ facial expressions. McGuinness succeeds to bringing Aaron’s story to life in a vivid fashion. This is exactly the type of artwork that I expect on a big mainstream super hero title. McGuinness’ artwork is easily the strength of Avengers #2.
The Bad: Avengers #2 suffers from some flat out bad writing. There is really no other way to put it more delicately. The plotting is horrendous. Aaron does virtually nothing to move any of the plot lines along at all. Avengers #2 is about as decompressed as possible. Aaron does a sly job of cramming a ton of loud action into the issue in order to distract the reader from the fact that he barely nudges the plot lines forward at all. The only amount of plot progression that we get is the appearance of Loki at the very end. Otherwise, we are in practically the exact same spot that we were at the end of Avengers #1. That is atrocious.
The reader does not learn anything more about the Final Host at all. The reader does not learn anything more about the aline bugs. The reader does not learn anything more about the cave with the prehistoric drawings. The reader does not learn anything more about how what happened with the prehistoric Avengers relates to the current modern day Avengers. There is absolutely no development of any plot lines at all other than we see at the end of the issue that Loki is now with the Final Host.
There is no doubt that the Final Host is a cool concept. But, we get zero follow up at all in Avengers #2. The story is so shallow. There is no complexity or meaningfulness at all to Aaron’s story at this point. All we are getting is some flash but zero substance.
What Aaron is delivering after two issues is in stark contrast to the engaging and substantive story that we are getting over in Justice League – No Justice #2. Even though Aaron is presenting the reader with a big cosmic threat the scope of this story feels small up to this point. Aaron’s story does not feel like a huge epic tale like what we are getting over in Justice League – No Justice.
The construction of Avengers #2 is also poor. Aaron kicks the issue off with a two page opening scene that does nothing more than just recapping Avengers #1. This is after we already got a recap and credits page! That is exactly what the recap page is designed to do. It is there so that the writer does not have to waste a couple of pages of the actual content of the issue with a recap of the prior issue.
Aaron then gives us a two page scene with Ghost Rider that does not advance any plot line at all. It is pure filler designed to waste time.
We then get a two page scene with Jen turning into She-Hulk and fighting the alien bugs. Again, this scene feels more like empty action designed to waste time.
We then get another two page scene of all of the Avengers mindlessly brawling in New York City.
We then get a one page scene of Jen learning the name of the fallen red Celestial, Esos, and learning that there is a “cure.” That tiny bit of information consists of all of the plot progression that we get in this issue outside of Loki’s dramatic entrance into the story at the very end of the issue.
Aaron then gives us a one page scene showing up Jen arriving in front of Ghost Rider. Again, why do in one panel what you can do in an entire page?
Next is yet another two page scene of Tony, Steve, Thor, and Carol still battling the Final Host. It is beginning to feel like this fight scene is stuck in neutral.
Then we get another two page scene of Ghost Rider and She-Hulk squaring off. No fighting. No plot progression. No character work. Just the two of them squaring off. Again, why do in one panel what you can in two pages?
Next is another two page scene of Steve, Tony, Thor, and Carol still battling the Final Host. Aaron is able to make a Dragon Ball Z fight seem compressed.
Nest? You guessed it. Another two page scene! This is just Ghost Rider and She-Hulk fighting and then the alien bugs appearing around them. The appearance of the alien bugs is the next tiny big of plot progression that we get in this issue.
Then we get a two page final scene with Loki making his grand appearance. That would be the final moment of something resembling plot progression.
All in all, Avengers had about five pages of content that was stretched out over a 21 page issue. The Ghost Rider and She-Hulk individual and joint scenes came to a total of 10 pages. Those 10 pages could have been easily done in about 4 pages. Maybe 5 pages if you really wanted to be generous. This was just shameless time stalling on the part of Aaron. These scenes were barely anything more than filler.
The scenes with Tony, Steve, Thor, and Carol came to a total of 10 pages. These scenes over absolutely zero content at all other than mindless action. The only plot progression is Loki’s appearance on the final page.
This issue is nothing more than a series of two page scenes that quickly jump between New York and Ghost Rider’s location in a jarring fashion. The scene transitions are clunky. The constant cutting back and forth every two pages makes Avengers #2 an incredibly choppy read.
While we do get tons of action the problem with the action is that it is all so empty and pointless. The action scenes do not have any psychology to them. None of the action furthers any of the plot lines. Nor does any of the action contribute to any character work or team chemistry. The action is reduced to nothing more than simple sound and fury that signifies nothing.
The only good dialogue in Avengers #2 is reserved for Loki. The rest of Aaron’s dialogue is either generic at best or cheesy and groan inducing at worst.
The same goes for the character work in Avengers #2. Outside of Loki, the character work in this issue is weak. All of the characters are shallow. The characters are mere cardboard cut-outs that mindless march through their designated action scenes. There is also zero chemistry between any of the characters.
Aaron is only dealing with eight characters in this title. That is a paltry amount of characters given the massive 22 character roster over in Justice League – No Justice. Even with just eight characters to handle Aaron only focuses on just six characters in Avengers #2.
Are you interested in either Black Panther or Doctor Strange? Too bad! Because those two characters are virtually absent from this issue. Black Panther and Doctor Strange are seen in exactly one panel and neither character gets any dialogue at all.
It is only the second issue of this new title and two characters are already getting completely ignored. There is no excuse for this to happen in just the second issue. The roster is only seven characters. That is pretty standard issue for a typical super team title. If Aaron cannot handle seven characters then he might be better suited sticking to solo character titles only. To make matters worse, even reducing his focus to just five Avengers Aaron still cannot deliver anything even closely resembling quality character work.
Carol Danvers is her is nothing more than her typical All New All Different cardboard cut-out personality. Carol never rises past the stereotypical masculine military style character. There is no depth to this version of Carol’s character and there is little there to captivate the reader’s attention.
Tony, Steve, and Thor come across like pale versions of their Marvel Cinematic Universe characters. This is surprising given how wonderfully Aaron wrote their characters in Avengers #1. Each of the Big Three had nice personalities and some excellent chemistry. All of that was absent in Avengers #2. This might have been the biggest disappointment with the poor character work in this issue.
Ghost Rider continues to be a dumpster fire of a character. Like most All New All Different characters, Robbie Reyes feels like a character created without a story purpose or point in mind. Robbie remains a pointless addition to the Avengers. Aaron has yet to sell the reader on why this random character deserves to be inserted into the Avengers franchise. It also does not help that Aaron gives Robbie a generic personality and some truly stupid dialogue. Robbie is the kind of character that the reader simply wishes would go away.
Now, despite all of the poor character work and dialogue in Avengers #2 the absolute worst of it is what Aaron does with Jen Walters. She-Hulk is such an amazing character. I have always loved this character. In fact, She-Hulk is my favorite female Marvel character. Everything about her character is cool and unique. She-Hulk has the four S’s. She is strong, smart, successful and sexy. You cannot beat that combination.
Jen has always been written as a confident and intelligent character who is a highly skilled and respected attorney. It is always entertaining when we would see Jen in her She-Hulk form and wearing a skirt suit and heels and in court trying a case. That’s Jen! Who else would do her job as an attorney in open court in their Hulk form!
Jen has also been a character who is not ashamed of her Amazonian body that makes her sexually attractive to nearly every male in the 616 Universe. To me, She-Hulk is about the closest Marvel can come to having a character that is their version of Wonder Woman.
It is an absolute shame what Jen’s character has been reduced to in Avengers #2. Yes, when She-Hulk first debuted in 1980 she was absolutely a derivative character. I mean, c’mon, it is in her name. But, Jen grew from a simple uncreative derivative character into an incredibly unique character with her own personality and gimmick completely independent from the Hulk.
Jen grew into her own character which was so different from Bruce Banner. Other than being cousins, Jen and Bruce had nearly nothing else in common. Jen’s personality and her character was nothing like Bruce’s personality and character. She-Hulk’s personality and character was absolutely nothing like Hulk’s personality and character. And this is exactly what made She-Hulk so much greater than a simple derivative character. She-Hulk was a complete success story and exactly what Marvel should be trying to do with any derivative character.
For some unknown reason Marvel has decided to take a character in She-Hulk who was unique, well developed, and engaging and reduce her into a cheap knock-off derivative character. It is absolutely stunning that Marvel would do something as regressive and stupid as this.
Aaron gives us a Jen Walters/She-Hulk that is nothing more than a boring and lame knock-off of Bruce Banner/Hulk. It is absolutely crushing to see Jen’s character de-evolved into such an uncreative and stunted version of her character. Jen is stripped of her core personality traits and made a simple Bruce Banner styled victim. She-Hulk is stripped of her Amazonian appeal and intelligence and made into a male Hulk with long hair. Neither the reader nor She-Hulk’s character comes out with a win in this situation.
And to have to hear She-Hulk refer to herself as “Hulk” and speak in the standard issue dumb Hulk voice? Absolutely painful.
Overall: Avengers #2 was a massive disappointment. Aaron took several steps back with this issue. Avengers #2 is poorly plotted and shallow. There is little actually substance to engage the reader. The dialogue was generic to cringe-inducing at times. The character work was absent. The lack of any real substance to this story was shocking. Marvel wants $4.00 of your hard earned money for an issue that could only be described as filler.
With the high cover price to comics these days it is incumbent upon publishers to actually provide quality content to the readers with each issue. There is far too much competition for your entertainment dollar in 2018. For just slightly more than double the cover price of Avengers #2 a reader could get an entire months subscription to Netflix. There is simply no way I could ever recommend that a reader spend $4.00 of their money for Avengers #2.