The Revolution has been looking forward to Mighty Avengers #21. Bendis is officially off the title and Dan Slott is in. And I could not be more excited. I have been incredibly unimpressed with Bendis’ work on New Avengers and Mighty Avengers ever since the end of Civil War. Super hero team titles simply do not play to Bendis’ strengths. On the other hand, Slott’s talents should lend him to being a good match for a super hero team title.
I am expecting to finally get to see the Avengers as a team with a story that actually deals with the Avengers themselves. Slott’s Mighty Avengers should fill the craving for a classic Avengers title that has been missing since Bendis took over the Avengers franchise. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Mighty Avengers #21.
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Koi Pham
Inks: Allen Martinez & Danny Miki
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with teen Vision meeting with Cassie at the remains of the Avengers’ Mansion. Evidently, Wiccan called the Young Avengers to meet him here because he had detected a major mystical threat on a global level. The two Young Avengers see the new statute of the Wasp added to the garden. The two heroes then see that their teammates have been turned into stone statues.
Vision notes that whatever turned the other Young Avengers into stone is spreading across the ground and is now headed at Vision and Cassie. Cassie grabs a hold of Vision and Vision takes off into the air to escape the spreading stone spell.
Vision and Cassie are then stunned speechless as they see the Scarlet Witch appearing on the scene. Scarlet Witch then teleports Vision and Cassie away from the scene. We then see all of New York City being washed over in a tidal wave of blood. The Dark Avengers arrive on the scene.
A television reporter tells Iron Patriot that it is raining blood in New York City, that San Francisco is encased in amber, the seas over Atlantis are boiling and in Wakanda pillars of fire are falling from the sky. The reporter asks Norman if these are the sign of the end of time. Norman looks into the camera and states that he is telling the people of the world that everything will be all right.
We cut to the southern border of Kansas. We see Jarvis with a GPS in his car heading to Oklahoma. However, Jarvis is stunned to realize that he crosses over Kansas and enters Texas. Evidently, the entire state of Oklahoma has disappeared. Jarvis looks at the map on his GPS and sees that Oklahoma is not on the map and has literally been wiped away. Jarvis guesses that his mission to go seek Thor’s help is now in vain since Asgard has disappeared along with the rest of Oklahoma.
Suddenly, Hercules and Amadeus Cho appear on the scene. Hercules states that Jarvis has just witnessed another aspect of a series of freak events that Cho is calling the Chaos Cascade. Cho reveals that he hacked into Jarvis’ GPS. Cho says that he and Hercules are looking to re-form the real Avengers.
Cho says that he has studied the Avengers’ dynamic and that Jarvis is the constant. Hercules adds that without Jarvis there are no Avengers. Jarvis climbs into Hercules and Cho’s ship and says “Far be it for me to argue with a demigod and math.”
We slide over to the New Avengers. (The secret ones.) They are in Philadelphia dealing with monster plants with tentacles that are attacking the city. The plants kill Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Captain America. Scarlet Witch appears on the scene and says “I’m too late.” Clint sees Scarlet Witch in the sky. Clint yells “Wanda!”
We zip to Toronto where Omega Flight is battling a horde of flesh eating insects. Scarlet Witch appears and says that the U.S. Agent with have to do. Scarlet Witch and U.S. Agent then teleport away from the scene.
We cut to Stark Aerospace Labs and see Iron Man dealing with the lava from several nearby erupting volcanoes. Iron Man receives news reports of bizarre events happening across the globe. Iron Man decides that he needs to see the big picture of what is going on. Iron Man orders his techs to begin the ignition of the Stark Macro Boosters.
We then see Iron Man attach himself to a pair of massive rocket boosters and blast off for space. Suddenly, Scarlet Witch teleports onto the scene. She then teleports away from the scene.
We shift to Canyon De Shelley in Arizona where the Hulk is trudging through a massive snowstorm. The Hulk then gets buried by tons of ice. Scarlet Witch appears on the scene. Wanda sees the frozen Hulk and says “A pity. He would have been useful.” Suddenly, the Hulk breaks free from the ice. Scarlet Witch then teleports the Hulk along with her away from the scene.
We cut to Chicago with Jarvis, Hercules and Cho arriving Henry Pym’s secret lab which is located in Janet Van Dyne’s outlet right between the big and tall store and the children’s store. Hercules knocks on the door and announces himself.
Jocasta answers and says that Henry does not wish to be disturbed. Jarvis then states that he is also here to see Henry. Jocasta then changes her tune and says that Henry would certainly want to make time for Jarvis.
Jocasta lets the three in the lab. We then see that despite the small storefront that the secret lab is absolutely huge. Jocasta mentions that Dr. Pym has been experimenting with shrinking portions of time and space. That the entire lab exists inside what Henry calls is a Pym Pocket.
Henry appears and chastises Jocasta for letting Hercules, Jarvis and Cho in the lab. Henry says that he wants no visitors while he is working. Henry asks Jarvis what he wants. Jarvis begins to quote the Avengers Oath. Henry interrupts Jarvis and says that the Avengers’ Oath won’t work on Henry. That Henry wrote it in the Avengers Charter himself.
Henry then says that he is busy working on something that will change the very nature of a universe. Henry says that he is not talking about “their” universe, but that it is still important nonetheless. We see that Henry is wearing a new costume and is now going by the name The Wasp.
Hercules whispers to Cho “You don’t think he’s cross-dressing do you?” Jocasta quips that there is nothing inherently female about wasps. That there are male wasps. Cho then introduces himself to Henry. Cho says that he is the seventh smartest person on the planet. Henry responds that he has been off-planet for a while so Cho should probably knock himself down to eight smartest person in the world.
Cho states that they don’t have time for a pissing contest. Cho says that the Chaos Cascade is wreaking havoc on the Earth. Henry responds that they are totally safe here in the Pym Pocket. Cho responds that they are not safe. That the Chaos Cascade is magic and that magic trumps science. Henry disagrees stating that magic is just science that has not been explained yet.
Cho responds that he has pinpointed the point of origin of the Chaos Cascade and that whoever is behind the Chaos Cascade is probably located at that spot. Cho continues that the world needs the Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop whoever is behind these bizarre events. And these heroes are going to need a leader.
Cho then reveals that the point of origin is Mount Wundagore. We then cut to space with Iron Man locating the point of origin to Mount Wundagore as well. Iron Man thinks how there are no Avengers left for him to call so he is going to have to do this on his own.
We slide over to Mount Wundagore near Transia. We see Modred casing his spells while Bova is chained and holding an ancient book open for Modred. Modred says that he is Modred no more. That he is now the Darkhold. We see Modred standing above the fallen bodies of the Knights of Wundagore.
We cut back to Henry Pym stating that there must be someone else who can lead the Avengers. Hercules shouts for Pym to stop cowering here in his Pym Pocket. Herc says that it is time to man up. That this day calls for leadership. Hercules grabs Henry and shouts “You’re a founding Avenger! Start acting like one!”
Henry responds that he has read myths about Hercules leading men into battle and that Hercules can easily lead the Avengers. Hercules smiles and says that he gets it. Hercules says that Henry is not afraid of the Chaos Cascade. That Henry is afraid to lead the Avengers.
Henry answers “Yes. It was a secret. A secret going back to my first day as an Avenger.” We flashback to the founding members of the Avengers meeting for the first time. Henry says how during their first mission against Loki that all the members turned to Henry as their unspoken leader since he was so brilliant.
However, Henry was not used to his new Giant Man powers and would eventually screw up in battle and Iron Man or Thor would have to pick up the slack. Henry had to realize that he was not one of the big guns and to accept that and move on. That Henry had to remind himself the real reason that he was with the Avengers: his brilliant mind.
And at that moment, that is when “it” happened. Henry was in the study in the Avengers Mansion collecting his thoughts when someone entered the room and Henry instinctively shrunk down to Ant-Man size. Iron Man had entered the room. Henry says Iron Man took off his helmet. Henry was stunned that Iron Man was really Tony Stark.
Henry realized that next to billionaire genius Tony Stark that Henry Pym was nothing. And that Henry was now far from being the smartest person on the Avengers. Cho and Hercules proceed to bang on Tony Stark like they were Brian Michael Bendis in an effort to show Henry that Tony is not all that great and that Henry should never feel second place compared to Tony.
Jarvis says that while Henry was locked away by the Skrulls that the world fell to chaos. Jarvis says that they need Henry now. Henry says that they win and that he will lead the Avengers to the point of origin of the Chaos Cascade. Henry then produces his “toolbot” which consists of nine hundred of his favorite tools all shrunk down into one handle. And thanks to a smart chip the toolbot always gives Henry the tool that he wants.
A key pops out of the toolbot and Henry uses it to unlock a door marked “Exit.” The Avengers step through the door and suddenly find themselves in Transia. Henry explains that Pym Pockets can link to different points in space-time. Cho is suitably impressed and comments that he can live with being the eight smartest person on the planet.
Scarlet Witch suddenly appears on the scene and says that she has been waiting to see which of the Avengers would come. Scarlet Witch says that dark times are ahead and that she wishes to help Henry. Scarlet Witch says that she has gathered an army for Henry. Scarlet Witch says that she cannot release them. That Henry must summon them.
Jarvis tells Henry that he knows the words and for Henry to say them as loud as possible. Henry then yells “Avengers Assemble.” Suddenly, we see U.S. Agent, Hulk, Cassie, and Vision appear behind Henry, Hercules, Jocasta, Jarvis and Cho.
We cut back to Modred finishing his summoning spell. Modred tells the spirit to fill the vessel that Modred has provided it. Modred says “Arise Maximoff and walk the Earth once again.”
We see a demonic Quicksilver standing in front of Modred. The demonic Quicksilver says that his name is Chthon and that this world and this reality shall fall in a blink of an eye. End of issue.
The Good: Mighty Avengers #21 was a solid issue. Slott is basically hitting the re-set button with this issue. And that entails that the writer perform a large amount of set-up which rarely translates into a stellar and riveting read. Slott uses Mighty Avengers #21 to lay a solid foundation for his run on this title. Slott goes through the necessary motions to assemble the new roster for the Mighty Avengers. Slott then cues the reader into the mission statement of the Mighty Avengers and then proceeds to lay the foundation for the new story arc. That is a ton of set-up work that must be done quickly as to not bore the reader.
It is tough on a writer to make an issue that must deliver such large amounts of set-up to be incredibly exciting. However, Slott does his best to make this issue as fun and interesting as possible. Slott employs a traditional template for the structure of Mighty Avengers #21.
Slott begins with an attention catching beginning with the Young Avengers in stone and appearance of the Scarlet Witch. Once Slott has successfully seized the reader’s undivided attention he then takes us along the necessary evil of assembling the roster for the team. On the journey of assembling the team, Slott paves the way for the dire threat for this story arc in the form of the Chaos Cascade. And once the team is properly assembled, Slott delivers the final bit of set-up with the introduction of the villain for this story arc.
There is nothing amazing about the way that Slott constructs and delivers Mighty Avengers #21. Instead, this is a dependable and steady debut issue for the new Mighty Avengers. Slott makes sure that Mighty Avengers #21 was well plotted. Slott has a clear plan in mind and methodically moved the story along with a purpose.
Slott serves up plenty of good comic book dialogue. And what I mean by that is that Slott is not trying to give us profound or mind blowing dialogue with each sentence. Instead, Slott tries to craft dialogue with a pleasant flow that makes this issue easy to read.
The best aspect of Slott’s dialogue is his sense of humor. Slott delivers plenty of funny lines. Mighty Avengers is not going to be full of dark, brooding, gritty and “realistic” dialogue. Instead, the reader is going to get plenty of lively banter as well as some humorous one-liners. And a great example of that was the wonderful banter between Henry and Cho about if Cho is the seventh or eighth smartest person on Earth. And a good example of the one-liners was Hercules’ priceless reaction to Henry now going by the codename “Wasp” by wondering if Henry was into cross-dressing or not.
What I appreciate about Slott is that he is a comic book writer and he makes no apologies for it. This is not a novelist dabbling in comic books. This is not a crime fiction writer doing super hero books for the money. Slott is not trying to prove his genius and attempting to create some hard to understand artistic creation. Slott is just a good old fashioned super hero comic book writer who simply wants to crank out dependable and solid reads that provide the reader with an entertaining diversion from the real world.
I like the new roster that Slott has assembled for the Mighty Avengers. We have Henry Pym, Iron Man, Hercules, Hulk, Scarlet Witch, US Agent, Jocasta, Vision and Stature. Stature is the only character that I could care less about. I am curious if the two Young Avengers are sticking around permanently once their teammates have been rescued. I much prefer the classic Vision to this teen version, but it is still cool to have Vision with the Avengers. This roster is a powerhouse line-up. The Mighty Avengers can easily match up with the Dark Avengers. The New Avengers is the weak sister of these three teams.
My favorite aspect of Mighty Avengers #21 was how Slott handled the storied history of this franchise. Respect for the Avengers’ history was something that has been missing from Bendis’ run on New Avengers. Bendis has never conveyed to me that he really particularly cares at all about the history of the Avengers. While Bendis seems to ignore the Avengers’ continuity, Slott embraces it. And that makes Mighty Avengers appealing to a reader like me who loves history and continuity.
Yet, at the same time, Slott does not get bogged down by continuity and makes Mighty Avengers #21 fairly new reader friendly. If you had never read Mighty Avengers before but had been following Secret Invasion and were deciding to give this title a try then you should have no problems understanding what is going on in this issue. Slott give just enough background information to acclimate the new reader without boring the long-time Mighty Avengers reader.
Slott does a great job handling Jarvis in this issue. Slott properly stresses how Jarvis is the constant in the Avengers’ history. That Jarvis has an important place in the Avengers mythos. I like that Jarvis has gone from being virtually ignored to actually being an important part of the team dynamic.
It was nice to see Scarlet Witch back with the Avengers and apparently sane. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are great Avengers who often seem to get lost in the shuffle. The fact is that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver became Avengers way back in Avengers #16. These two characters have been part of the Avengers from practically the beginning.
Slott certainly has his hands full on trying to re-habilitate Wanda’s character after how Bendis has utilized her. I will openly admit that I never liked what Bendis did, or did not do, with Wanda’s character. Hopefully, Slott will be able to return Wanda to her heroic roots. It is going to be difficult considering how insane Bendis made Wanda. But, if Hal Jordan could be rehabilitated after the Parallax mistake then absolutely any character can be rehabilitated.
The best character work in Mighty Avengers #21 was reserved for Henry Pym. I love that Slott made Henry the leader of the Mighty Avengers. I have always thought that Pym was a great character. Unfortunately, Pym has been kicked around by so many writers over the past couple of decades. Again, Slott is going to have his hands full rehabilitating Pym’s character.
Slott understands Pym’s importance to the Avengers. And it is obvious that Slott sees the potential in Pym that I also see. Pym is more than just a panel of him slapping Janet or him creating Ultron. Pym, is a hero and a founding member of the Avengers. And Slott gets that and appears determined to make Pym the hero he should have always been. I am looking forward to reading Pym written by a writer who views him as more than just a whipping boy.
And to properly evolve Henry’s character and to move him forward in a positive fashion, Slott first had to go back to the moment in Henry’s past that crystallized his problems with the Avengers. The flashback scene was perfectly done. This scene shows the moment where Henry’s constant inferiority complex with the other Avengers first blossomed in his mind. Henry was never the best Avenger in action but being the smartest member of the team gave him a source of pride and allowed him to believe he made a significant contribution to the team outside of the battlefield.
However, the realization that Iron Man was Tony Stark took away Henry’s last remaining source of pride of being the smartest Avenger. And from this point on Henry struggled with his inferiority complex with the other members of the Avengers. This led to Henry constantly struggling with his place on the Avengers and his worth to the team. And this inevitably led to Pym’s mental and personal problems.
In order to rehabilitate Henry’s character, Slott had to show the reader the beginning of his problems. Now that Slott has isolated the root of Pym’s reoccurring problems with the Avengers this should enable Slott to move Pym past these problems and become the valued Avenger that he truly is.
Pym is a cool character that has never been used to his fullest abilities. When it comes to the big brains of the 616 universe, Henry often gets lost in the shuffle. However, Henry is every bit as smart as Tony Stark and Reed Richards and Slott hammers that point home with this issue. Slott certainly wastes no time making Henry incredibly cool with all of the amazing technology that Pym has created.
Slott lets his imagination run wild with Pym’s technology in this issue. Slott gives Pym a cool lab. I dig the location of the lab in a Janet Van Dyne’s outlet right between the big and tall store and the children’s store.
I love the Pym Pockets. It is a pretty neat concept that Pym can shrink portions of time and space and can also have the Pym Pockets locate different points in space time. The Pym Pockets should be a fun plot device for Slott to play with.
And, of course, a genius like Henry has to build himself some cool toys and the toolbot that has nine hundred tools shrunk into one handle that can produce whichever took merely by Henry’s thought command is a pretty damn cool gadget.
Slott ends Mighty Avengers with a wonderful and slightly campy group shot of our new Mighty Avengers behind Pym as he yells “Avengers Assemble!” Having Henry have to “summon” his new team by yelling the Avengers’ rally cry was classic comic book silliness. This double page splash shot made me break out in a huge grin. And I appreciate that type of comic book goofiness.
Slott gave the reader a good hook ending with the appearance of Chthon as the main villain for this story arc. And to top it all off, Chthon has possessed Quicksilver’s body. Chthon is an old school Avengers villain. I am talking created by Marv Wolfman and Bill Mantlo first appearing in Avengers #185 old school villain. I have not seen Quicksilver since the Quick and the Dead. Hopefully, Slott has plans for Quicksilver once he is freed from Chthon’s control.
Koi Pham, Allen Martinez and Danny Miki combine to deliver plenty of solid artwork. I am not always that wild about Pham’s artwork. Sometimes it is a bit too sloppy and inconsistent. However, Mighty Avengers is some of the best work that I have seen from Pham.
The Bad: Mighty Avengers #21 suffers from many of the same weaknesses that most set-up issues suffer from. This issue was a bit slow and dull at times. Having to sit through the perfunctory assembling of the roster can get tedious for the reader.
While this issue was dependable, it was certainly nothing special. It is important for a writer to hook new readers as fast as possible when a title is getting a soft re-start. I do not know if Slott did enough to generate a buzz about the Mighty Avengers in order to get readers excited about this new direction.
Slott may have bitten off more than he can chew with having to rehabilitate both Henry Pym and Scarlet Witch at the same time. These two characters have really been put through so much. Pym has taken a beating for years while Wanda was morphed into an insane killer. This is a Herculean task that Slott has undertaken. Slott will certainly have a challenging task in making the readers accept Wanda and Hank as two respectable heroes worthy of being Avengers.
Personally, I am not crazy about magic based villains and story arcs. For some reason they have always had a limited appeal to me. Part of that problem is that it is hard to get the reader hooked into a story where magic makes things too outrageously terrible and, on the flipside, too easily fixed.
I am not a fan of predictable events that are so over the top that the reader knows they will all be wiped out and corrected by the end of the story arc. We have seen the entire world thrown into chaos. We have seen heroes killed left and right. It is obvious from the very start that all of this is going to be reversed. Once the reader realizes that everything is going to be set back to normal by the end of the story via the use of a magical spell or convenient re-set button it tends to rob the story of any tension and excitement.
I have to admit that I am not particularly thrilled with Henry assuming the mantle of the Wasp. I would much rather Henry resume his Yellowjacket identity. I also cannot stand Henry’s costume design. It looks awful. It makes Henry look like a reject from some cheesy late 1990’s Image comic book.
Overall: If you have not been impressed with Bendis’ New Avengers and Mighty Avengers then Slott’s Mighty Avengers is the title for you. If you like your Avengers done in their classic style full of tradition and steeped in their glorious continuity and history then this title is for you. On the other hand, if you do not like traditional big time super hero team titles in the vein of the Justice League of America and prefer a darker, grittier street level super team then this title is not for you.
I am sure that New Avengers and Dark Avengers will continue to post larger sales numbers than Slott’s Mighty Avengers. But, don’t let that fool you or convince you not to give this title a try. Sale numbers having nothing at all to do with the quality of a title. If you like straight-up traditional super hero comics then give Slott’s Mighty Avengers a try.