Jason Aaron’s Avengers run started off hot with the newly formed team took on the Celestials. That hot start slowed down a bit by the side story featuring the origin story of Ghost Rider 1,000,000 BC. The story did accomplish telling the origin for one of the members of the Avengers 1,000,000 BC. Unfortunately the story was not as compelling as it could’ve been, especially since it took the attention away from the the new Avengers team that just formed. While the momentum has cooled Aaron is bringing the focus of this series back on the Avengers. How exactly Aaron follows up on the Avengers taking on the Dark Celestials is anyone’s guess. But let’s find that out now with Avengers #8.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the North Pole Robbie Reyes (Ghost Rider) talks with Gabe (Robbie’s little brother) about getting a trial period as part of the Avengers. Robbie promises to call Gabe later just as he makes it to the new Avengers Mountain headquarters inside the Progentior (the first Celestial to ever visit Earth).
Inside Captain America welcomes Robbie to the Avengers Mountain. As they talk Captain America compliments Robbie on being the only Avenger able to take control of a dead Celestial. Robbie thinks this means he is the strongest Avenger. Captain America throws his shield at Robbie and corrects him by say Robbie is just the newest Avenger.
Captain America tells Robbie that every Avenger has years of training and experience. He then challenges Robbie to show him what he can do. Robbie transforms into Ghost Rider and takes Captain America up on his challenge.
In a hallway nearby Thor is looking for some mead.
Flashing back to a few days ago while the Avengers recover from the fight with the Dark Celestials Thor confronts Loki. Loki says Thor should be thanking for being responsible for the Avengers reunion. He then tells the Avengers to remember the lessons from the Final Host as they are being watched by other unknown forces.
Just as Thor grabs Loki to tell him to shut up the Celestials take Loki with them. Before leaving with Loki, the Celestials raise the body of Progentior to be a beacon of hope for Earth.
In another part of Avengers Mountain T’Challa tells Tony about how Wakandan scientists have been working with Alpha Flight to make Progentior a livable space for them.
In the medical center Doctor Strange runs some test on Jennifer Walters. Doctor Strange discovers that the gamma radiation inside Jennifer’s body has skyrocketed since encountering the Celestials. He goes on to say that this is causing her body to release the excess gamma energy in explosive ways and it diminishes her mental faculties when she is She-Hulk during these periods.
Doctor Strange wants to run more tests but Jennifer says she doesn’t want to be sidelined as this new power makes her the best Hulk in the world.
Thor suddenly interrupts asking if either of them know where the bathroom is. Jennifer says she does and uses this as opportunity to leave Doctor Strange’s testing.
As they walk together Thor nervously wonders if Jennifer is taking him to her room.
A little later Doctor Strange meets up with T’Challa and asks wonders if there is anything going on between Thor and She-Hulk.
T’Challa then asks if Doctor Strange is going to be part of the Avengers. Doctor Strange says he has other business to take care of but can help the Avengers when they need him to. T’Challa says he has a solution for that and shows Doctor Strange the global teleporter that can link Avengers Mountain to the Sanctum Sanctorum with Strange’s permission. Doctor Strange agrees and then asks if T’Challa is also sticking around. T’Challa remarks that he doesn’t believe in accidents and that he is choosing to make his own plans.
In another hallway Tony and Carol talk about working together on the same Avengers team. While neither apologizes for the past Tony says they need each other to keep them in line while saving the world. Carol agrees as long as Tony doesn’t think she and others are just Iron Man, Thor and Captain America’s back-up. Tony agrees to that and they shake hands.
As they resolve everything Tony then asks if they can now break the sexual tension between the two. Carol answers this by tossing Tony down the hallway into a cave and walking away.
On the other side at the Southern Ocean of the world Atlanteans attack a Roxxon boat.
Back at Avengers Mountain Captain America, Thor and Iron Man tell Black Panther that the team has unanimously voted Black Panther as the Avengers Chairperson. Black Panther thanks the Big Three for the honor. As soon as the elevator door opens Black Panther calls the first team meeting by saying “Avengers Assemble.”
Robbie wonders where Doctor Strange is. Black Panther says that Doctor Strange will act be a reserve member. He goes on to state that for now they’ll work with seven active members on the Avengers, though they may add an eight member after searching for the right person to fill the role.
Suddenly the alarm goes off with a Level 9 alert about the an attack at the Southern Ocean. The Avengers get in the jet to check things out.
Back at the Southern Ocean a kraken attacks the security on the Roxxon boat. Namor jumps out of the ocean and says he is going take all the murderers on the boat into the depths of the sea. End of issue.
The Good: Jason Aaron gets the series right back on track with Avengers #8. Picking up where Avengers #6 left of, we got to see Aaron establish the direction of the current Avengers. In the process Aaron resolves several dangling sub-plots from other creator runs while setting up other characters long-term arcs.
After everything that happened with the Celestials Aaron was smart to give us a calm issue to build up the dynamic of this new Avengers roster. While the Big Three are the constants on this team the roster itself is made up of heroes who never worked together. Given that fact it was important to have the team bond in a personal way, which is accomplished throughout Avengers #8. The various pairing all work for the most part to show how we each personality on the Avengers will compliment the others. They also helped to show that Aaron will insert comedy when the opportunity presents itself to lighten up certain scenes, such as Thor’s journey to find a bathroom in Avengers Mountain.
Of everyone on this Avengers team the one that stood out like a sore thumb with questions around his membership was Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider. Aaron answers all those questions immediately with the opening giving Ghost Rider the spotlight. This opening establishes how Ghost Rider will represent the newbie on the team, something the Avengers have always had one or two of. At the same time Aaron builds of the previous issue’s big moment by establishing that Ghost Rider’s powers make him someone that is believable as an Avenger. And with his interaction with Captain America there is now an intriguing sub-plot built around Ghost Rider gaining the experience to go along with his growing powers.
Captain America being the one to call Ghost Rider out on him being the rookie of the team was a good way to establish him as Robbie’s mentor. With Aaron giving the leadership role to Black Panther, this is a great way to shift Captain America character slightly. It plays into how he tries to bring out the best in all of his teammates. Along with that, it opens the opportunity to explore how Captain America trains and inspires others as he now has to mentor Ghost Rider to achieve his full potential while saving the world with the Avengers.
This mentor/rookie dynamic was a strong compliment to how Aaron finally had Tony Stark and Carol Danvers come to an understanding with each other. One of the least interesting ongoing stories in the Marvel Universe has been Tony and Carol constantly fighting and arguing with each other. Neither one ended up looking good when they clashed. At least now Aaron resolved this as we see both Tony and Carol admit that while they are completely different people they can work together as Avengers. This understanding will make all their future interactions in and out of the Avengers much better since at least now they’ve put things in the past, for the most part.
At the same time Aaron also continues to set-up several character arcs that will help build intrigue in this new direction for the Avengers. The one that stood out most was Aaron’s decision to have Black Panther take over the leadership of the team. This was made to be a satisfying reveal because it was something that Iron Man, Captain America and Thor told Black Panther together. It’s a simple act but adds all the credibility to why Black Panther is the leader of this incarnation of the team. And within the construction of Avengers #8, this did payoff the various interactions Black Panther had with other characters that showed how he set-up Avengers Mountain to maximize the team’s dynamic.
Black Panther not forcing Doctor Strange to be on the team was an example of this. Though Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe he is not a team guy. Black Panther recognizing this made how he convinced him to at least be a reserve member and open a teleporter spot in the Sanctum Sanctorum shows how he has the qualities of the leader. It also leaves the door open for Doctor Strange to appear in this series whenever the story calls for him to show up. At the same time it gives Aaron time to fill the eighth roster spot with another major Avenger from the past.
And while Black Panther is taking on the leadership of this incarnation of the Avengers Aaron made sure that the Big Three are still a strong presences in this series. Through the conversation with Black Panther and Captain Marvel we get to see Aaron recognize the importance of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America as Marvel’s Big Three. Even though the Avengers work are going to be working more like equals than they have in the past the Big Three are the ones at the center of the team.
The other character that got an import sub-plot is She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters has always been different from her cousin, Bruce Banner, especially with their versions of Hulk. Identifying that and adding a new wrinkle to Jennifer as She-Hulk by connecting her power up to the conflict with the Celestials makes sense within context of Aaron’s story. This gives Jennifer something that she needs to improve on as it is clear that when these gamma spikes happen she becomes very dangerous. Watching out for these moments as She-Hulk make an even more interesting character while also separating her from just being Hulk’s cousin.
The ending of Avengers #8 involving Namor was exactly what this issue needed after all the heavy dialogue sequences. Namor is character that always works better when he is allowed to be the antagonist of the story. Aaron sets that up for Namor as he is put into conflict with the Avengers. The new design for Namor also made him look much more threatening, working in well with how he was looking to kill at the Roxxon guards on the boat.
While Namor is going to take the spotlight in this story arc Aaron does a good job keeping what we learned about the Celestials hovering over the team. Loki worked perfectly in his role in taking credit for causing the Avengers to assemble in time for the conflict with the Dark Celestials. The vague way Loki talked work on two fronts, it annoyed Thor and introduced other threats on the level of the Celestials that the Avengers need to watch out for. Even though we don’t know who these unknown beings are that are watching Earth what we did learn was enough to create interest in this plotline.
Though Avengers #8 was a very talking heads heavy issue David Marquez provided Aaron’s story vibrant artwork to keep it moving forward. With how talking heavy Avengers #8 was Marquez did a great job matching character expressions with what was being said. Little things he did like when Jennifer was showing her excess gamma radiation coming out of her was a great compliment to what she told Doctor Strange. When he did get to some action he was able to create a strong sense of fear as Namor had the Atlanteans attack the Roxxon security at sea.
The Bad: The one thing that did fall flat about Avengers #8 was the romantic sub-plot between Thor and She-Hulk. Thus far there hasn’t been enough of a development to make the reader care about these two pairing up to be a potential couple. With She-Hulk being a new member on the team it does not help her be more intriguing. Instead it sets her up to be more of a love interest rather than a character that stands on her own within the Avengers. That could change depending on how Aaron develops Thor and She-Hulk together but as for now it is not working.
Overall: Avengers #8 got the series right back on track. Throughout this issue Jason Aaron was able to establish the team dynamic and what role each member will play during his run. Along with the continued development around what the Celestials appearances revealed about Earth and Namor’s sudden attack, Avengers #8 delivered on the high expectations for Aaron’s run on this series.