Jed MacKay and C.F. Villa have gotten off to a solid start with Kang the Conqueror gave an ominous warning to the Avengers involving the Tribulation Events. That warning comes to pass as the first part of he Tribulation Events with the arrival of the villain group named Ashen Combine. This new threat has already shown to be a powerful force as they’ve attacked several cities across the world. How will the Avengers deal with this new threat? Let’s find out with Avengers #4.
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colorist: Federico Ble
Letterer: Cory Petit
In Vatican City, Sydney, and Toronto, Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man each take on members of the Ashen Combine. Scarlet Witch and Thor initially overpower their respective opponents. The Ashen Combine members soon recover and launch attacks that knock out Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man.
In the Impossible City, with their teammates defeated Black Panther decides to activate his back-up plan to destroy the Ashen Combine’s base of operation.
The one controlling the Impossible City suddenly speaks to Captain America and Black Panther, stating they will all be dying. End of issue.
The pacing of Jed MacKay and C.F. Villa is exactly what has been missing from the Avengers for a long time. Right out of the gate they have established a quick, consistent pace that has created a sense of long-term urgency for this Avengers roster. That pacing successfully continues with the Avengers #4.
Splitting things up between the three different one-on-one fights Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man had against the Ashen Combine was a strong showcase of both teams. For the Avengers we see how they fight individually since they have all been well established as solo heroes. But as the fight continues we see why it is important for the Avengers to work together. While individually powerful, when they fight together they are able to take on any threat, even those on a God-tier power level.
Which is where the structure of the fight works perfectly to put over the Ashen Combine as a credible threat. MacKay and Villa certainly use a show rather than tell when it comes to establishing these new villains. Which works well when battling characters as powerful as Thor and Scarlet Witch. Long monologues will not get the reader to buy any villain as a credible threat. But actually showing how their powers can match-up with and take down even the Avengers is what they needed.
What worked best is how the Ashen Combine used the lack of familiarity the Avengers have with fighting them. The unexpected is a strong tool new villains can use when fighting established heroes. Because there is no previous knowledge of their powers or fighting style. That became Ashen Combine’s greatest power as they were able to use the unexpected to make the use of their powers overwhelm Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man. This added to how the Ashen Combine are part of a bigger storyline involving the Tribulation Events that impacts the entire Marvel Universe.
This brings a spotlight into how this version of the Avengers are working as more of a group of solo heroes rather than a super team. This is not only shown in the way Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man fight but also how Black Panther and Captain America work together. MacKay makes great use of the current status quo in each of the Avengers solo comics to set this kind of chemistry up. The writing is done in a way that readers of those solo titles will get more of and also build team chemistry arc for fans only reading Avengers to follow.
Jed MacKay and C.F. Villa have started hot and have not turned down the temperature at all. Avengers #4 is another example of that, with how the teams fight against Ashen Combine builds on the long-term Tribulation Events story. This is certainly the big, epic stories you expect one of Marvel’s premiere superhero teams to be involved in.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10