U.S.Avengers #12 Review

U.S.Avengers #12 Review


U.S. Avengers #12 is an odd title. This title is one of the many comic books that fall under the ever-expanding banner of the Avengers franchise. This title presents the reader with an odd roster. The biggest name on this roster is probably Red Hulk and he is a B-List character. Next would be Sunspot and Cannonball and both of them are C-List characters. The remained of the roster are D-list characters. Al Ewing certainly has his work cut out for him. Hopefully, we get some fun superhero action and adventure in this issue that we expect from an Avengers title. Let’s hit this review.

Words: Al Ewing
Art: Paco Diaz
Colors: Jesus Aburtov

Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin in a dungeon in Glenbrook, Outer Space. Bugface Brown, a Skrull playing a Jughead-type character from a Riverdale-style show, narrates the backstory for new readers. Bugface talks about how their Skrull colony is called Kral X. These Skrulls became fascinated with Earth movies and television. (Actually, the Skrulls only became fascinated with American movies and television. Because, evidently, there are no movies or television shows outside of Earth. Basically, in this story America = The Earth.)

First, this colony of Skrulls became fascinated by old gangster movies. As a result, the Skrulls remade their entire colony in the style of an old gangster movie. They all walked around like Italian-American stereotypes. (Cultural appropriation!) Bugface said that they created their own “fairy-tale America.” (Um, wait. Their idea of a “fairy-tale America” glorifies Italian-American stereotypes and also glorifies crime and violence. Wow. Fantastic.)

The leader of the colony was Bugface’s father, Don Scarpone. Bugface’s brother was Don Scarpone’s consigliere and second in command. (Nope. The Consigliere is the third in command in the Mafia in America. Details matter.)

Don Scarpone sent Bugface’s brother on a mission to find new signals from Earth. (Translation: American television and movies only. And now it finally dawns on me that Bugface’s name is a combination of Bugsy Malone and Scarface.) Bugface’s brother found a TV signal from Earth over 50 years ago. It was the Ritchie Redwood Show. (An Archie-styled show.)

Bugface’s brother brought it back to the colony. Bugface’s brother became Ritchie. Bugface became the first convert to Redwoodism and became the Jughead-type character. Then Redwoodism swept through the colony. Ritchie had control of the local military and two Power Skrulls. Therefore, Ritchie took control of the colony from his father, Don Scarpone.

Don Scarpone and the Skrulls loyal to him were exited from Kral X. Ritchie and Bugface then rebuilt Kral X as their own Glenbrook. (Think Riverdale from Archie.) Bugface said it was their perfect piece of America. (Well, certainly more perfect than basing your “perfect” America on Mafia movies. And I have a feeling I know what direction we are headed with calling this version of Glenbrook the “perfect” America. Yippie.)

Biugface says that it was perfect for a while and then everything went wrong. We then see that other people are in the dungeon along with Bugface. We see Cannonball and other people in the shadows in the dungeon. Cannonball has a large comical old-school-style ball and chain attached to his leg. (Oh, missed opportunity to have Cannonball in old school prison clothes with the black and white horizontal stripes plus a hat.)

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We shift to Pappy Guggenheim’s Malt Shoppe. (A nice reference to comic book writer Marc Guggenheim.) Ritchie is threatening another Skrull, Gerry, that he will be sent to the dungeon with the other subversives if he breaks character again. Gerry says that he was just saying that they should check the Earther for Shi’ar technology. Ritchie says that Gerry from Glenbrook would not know anything about alien biomechanics. Ritchie says maybe they start changing everything and have Becky be the rich one or have Vanessa run the malt shop. Ritchie says “Let’s just do what we like!” as he punches a table.

Ritchie yells for the Skrulls to stop saying the word “Earther.” That Glenbrook is supposed to be on Earth in a simpler time. (Um, no. Maybe America in a “simpler” time. But, Earth itself in numerous countries was not a “simpler” time at all 50 years ago.) Ritchie rants that Glenbook is a much simpler time without alien technology and spaceships.

Suddenly, a spaceship appears above the malt shop. (Damn. That is some incredibly convenient timing!) Ritchie tells Biff, one of the Power Skrulls, to go check out the spaceship.

We cut to the spaceship and see the members of the U.S. Avengers. Red Hulk is about to jump out of the spaceship. Sunspot tells Ross to back away pursuant to the doctor’s orders. Dr. Toni Ho tells Red Hulk that they still do not know how badly Hydra screwed up his Hulk powers. (A woman with the last name of “Ho” in America would be unfortunate. You would have to put up with so many jokes and snickering. Maybe whoever created this character could have picked a different last name for better optics.)

Red Hulk says that he hated the Glenbook cartoon as a kid. Red Hulk says that now he has a chance to beat it up. (A cranky old white guy with a cop mustache and cop sunglasses with Hulk powers. This might just be my all-time favorite Marvel character forever.)

Red Hulk then jumps from the spaceship. Red Hulk says that he has a full twenty minutes left in his hour of power. But, suddenly, an alarm from his bio-computer shows that it is failing. Red Hulk clutches his chest and says “My heart…” and then Red Hulk begins transforming back into Ross as plummets to the ground.

Dr. Ho, Enigma, Squirrel Girl (Why hasn’t this character been brutally killed horrifically, yet?), and Sunspot watch as Ross plummets to the ground. Sunspot asks Dr. Ho if his headband gives him all of his old powers back. Dr. Ho says that she does not know since they have not had time to test the headband for all of the powers. (Uhhh, why wouldn’t you test the headband for all of his powers BEFORE giving it to Sunspot? That is like selling a car that has only had half of its safety features tested. That makes no sense.)

Sunspot then jumps from the spaceship and says that now would be a bad time to find out that he cannot fly anymore. (Yes. It would be bad. But, it would also be funny. And it kind of matches the general air-headed quality of this story.)

And it is at this point of the story that I learn that Roberto Da Costa is no longer called Sunspot. He is called Citizen V. (Screw that. Citizen V is a dumb codename. He’s Sunspot. Suck it, Marvel.)

We zip back to the dungeon with Bugface continuing the backstory of the colony. Bugface says that Bugface returned from another recognizance mission to find new Earth transmissions. (Read: American transmissions only.) Ritchie says that it is a good thing Bugface came back. Ritchie said that Bugface had been gone for so long that he nearly recast him. That they have lots of loyal subjects who do not have characters to play yet.

Bugface explained that the fact that many of their subjects did not have characters to play is exactly why he left. Bugface then handed Ritchie the new transmissions. Bugface explains that he found new transmission of a new version of Glenbrook. The humans brought back the Glenbrook TV show several times since the original show 50 years ago.

Bugface shows Ritchie that the newest version of Glenbrook has new characters. One is April Flowers who is a third love interest for Ritchie. Another character is Sabine who is a sorceress. Then there is Keith who comes out as gay.

Ritchie tells Bugface to slow down. That everything he is telling him just complicates things. That they do not need to rock the boat with a bunch of needless changes. That they can just keep things simple. Classic. Keep things the way they were meant to be. Bugface responds that he has 50 years and counting of Glenbrook television shows and they are always moving forward. That is how it’s meant to be. (You must be kidding me. Am I getting a defense of any critiques of the new Riverdale television show in a mainstream Marvel superhero comic book? What the actual fuck? Here I thought a comic book with the Avengers brand on it would deliver a story about…superheroes being superheroes. Just end it all now.)

Cannonball asks Bugface if that is the point when Ritchie snapped. Bugface said, “No.” That Ritchie gave it a try for a while. We then see the other people in the dungeon. They are four Skrulls that play the four new characters from the newest version of the Glenbrook television show. The sorceress character says that Ritchie said he never wanted to see her except on Halloween. The Skrull playing the gay character said that Ritchie used to mutter about Bugface’s “agenda.” (Everyone has an agenda. Everyone. Good or bad.) The Skrull playing the black female character said that Ritchie once said the phrase “Canonically not racist” multiple times. (Crap. I just think I pulled a muscle rolling my eyes during this scene. Al. Buddy. You’re trying too hard. Talk about having an agenda that is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head. And I am not sure any Skrull would have any concept of racism in America whatsoever. All Skrulls look identical. They are all ugly and green.)

Bugface says that he thinks that he was the last straw. Bugface says that he decided he was happier in his natural face. So, he was thinking of a new backstory. That Bugface is secretly a space alien mimicking Earth culture. We see Bugface in his Jughead costume but in his normal Skrull form. Bugface says that maybe he is from the future, too. A time cop.

Ritchie responds that all of this is insane and completely out of continuity. Bugface replies that he just wants to see more of himself in this act. Bugface asks what is so wrong with that. That this is meant to be fun for everyone. Bugface says that it is not like Ritchie is the final arbiter of all Glenbrook television shows.

That is when Ritchie snapped. Bugface says that the factions went to war. Old versus new. (Oh, boy. Could Al now be transitioning into shaming anyone who dares criticize the All New All Different Marvel Universe that has been an objective sales failure? Oh, joy. One can only hope! This. This right here is why people purchase mainstream superhero comics!)

Ritchie had all the firepower since he had two Power Skrulls in Biff Bison and Waspwind on his side. Bugface’s side lost and was put in the dungeon without food and water. Bugface says that there used to be more of them in the dungeon. (Where did their bodies go? Shouldn’t there be some skeletons in there with them?)

Cannonball says that he may have a way out of the dungeon. (Well, thank fucking god you waited until halfway into the issue to bring up the fact that you might be able to get everyone out of the dungeon. Of course, it would have been rude for Cannonball to not allow Bugface to perform his exposition dump up until this point in the story.)

The Skrulls point out that the hyperwave generators in the dungeon keep them locked into their human forms. They also point out that Cannonball has a gravity ball attached to his leg. Cannonball says that he went to a special superhero school. And he learned three things from Storm. How to pick pockets, how to palm stolen goods, and how to open locks.

Cannonball displays a small device that he must have stolen from his captors. The device unlocks the shackles on his leg. The device then disables the hyperwave generators. (Oh, lord. Cannonball has gone nearly the entire issue sitting in a dungeon when he could break loose at any moment and destroy the machines inhibiting the Skrull’s powers? Really? First, that is one convenient all-purpose plot device that Cannonball unveils. Second, why the hell didn’t he just do all of this the second he was placed in the dungeon? Did he know that Al needed him to stall for time?)

We zip to Roberto flying through the air with Ross in his arms. (Oh, shit. I honestly completely forgot about this plotline. That feels like forever ago. And, hey, I guess that Roberto’s headband worked.) Ross mumbles “Fuhh…” Roberto replies “General..are you trying to use an actual swear word? Are things that bad?” (Huhbutwaht? Is Roberto a prude? Fuck. Cursing is great at any point during the day. When things are good or when things are bad. In fact, cursing is a sign of intelligence So turn that sideways and stick that up your ass, Roberto!)

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Roberto lands on the ground and lovingly sets Ross gently in a field of grass. Ritchie and the Power Skrulls then face off with Roberto. Sunspot says that he knows the X-Men. He studied under the X-Men. Sunspot says that you, sirs, are no X-Men. (Oh, that is so fresh! So topical! We have never seen someone riff Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s takedown of Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice Presidential debate! Never! That is totally new. And so timely!)

Sunspot begins brawling with the Power Skrulls. We see Enigma, Squirrel Girl, Dr. Ho, and Smasher arrive on the scene to provide some backup for Roberto. Our heroes take down the two Power Skrulls with complete ease. (Seriously. This fight was as lopsided as a Braun Strowman/James Ellsworth match. That was…exciting?)

Ritchie then squares off against our U.S. Avengers. (Well, actually only the four women. The three male members of the team are all nowhere to be seen.) Ritchie says that he is going to assume his battle form and will kick some ass on the heroines. Ritchie then stands there stunned and still in his human form. Ritchie says, “When…when I assume my…my…why can’t I change…?”

Suddenly, Cannonball, Bugface, and the other Skrulls appear on the scene. Bugface says, “Sorry, Ritchie. We’re all in character today.” (So, witty.) Ritchie says that they have built a paradise. Every day was the same. Nothing ever changed. Ritchie says that none of them belong here in Glenbrook.

Bugface replies that this is sad. With all the talk of staying in character that now Ritchie is saying something that Ritchie Redwood would never say. (This is just weird. Like Bizarro World weird. I have no idea what I am reading. Is this Riverdale fanfiction or a mainstream Marvel superhero comic book that is a part of the Avengers franchise?)

We shift to some guards on the scene placing Ritchie and his followers under arrest and taking them away to the gangster planet where Don Scarpone was exiled. There Ritchie and his followers will be put in jail. (Huhbutwhat? This makes no sense. What laws did Ritchie and his followers break? Where is the jurisdiction for the alleged crimes? Where is the due process?

Let’s think about this for a second. Ritchie and his followers took control of the colony Kral X and exiled the old leader and his followers. As the leader of Kral X, Ritchie had the appropriate governmental power to institute whatever laws he saw as proper. So, he certainly was not breaking any of his own laws.

Now, I guess you could make the case that they committed human rights violations during their reign in Kral X. Therefore, they should be tried for those crimes in Kral X. If found guilty then they should be imprisoned for those crimes. But, the imprisonment should also be on Kral X.

There is no reason why Don Scarpone’s new planet that he was exiled to would be the proper jurisdiction for any trial or any imprisonment. Ritchie could not have violated any of the Don’s laws since Ritchie was not on the Don’s planet. The Don’s planet would not have jurisdiction for any trial. Nor would the Don’s planet have any jurisdiction for any imprisonment.

Lastly, who are those guards? If they are from the Don’s planet then shouldn’t they look like Italian-America gangsters from the movies? At the very least, shouldn’t they look like Skrull soldiers? Instead, these guards look like Shi’ar. I have no idea why the Shi’ar would be involved with a Skrull colony.)

We then see Cannonball and Smasher start playing tonsil hockey with each other. Roberto says that Cannonball could “at least come up for air.” (First, gross. Second, what is with Roberto? Earlier in this issue, he did not approve of any cursing. Now we see him disapproving of Cannonball and Smasher kissing each other in public. Seriously, when did Roberto become such a prude?) Roberto then mumbles “I’m just glad I’m married to my work.” (What? This makes no sense at all! Is Roberto some creepy guy who hates any intimate relationship with another woman? Or is he saying he is glad he is married to his work otherwise he would compete with Cannonball for Smasher’s affections? Or is he saying that because he thinks Smasher is unattractive? I have no idea how to take this creepy throwaway line.)

Cannonball manages to pull his face off of Smasher’s face and asks Roberto about Dr. Ho now leading A.I.M. Roberto replies that he likes to improvise. That Dr. Ho is not wearing her armor anymore. Also, Ross has serious health problems. Roberto adds that he has also made a lifelong enemy of the U.S. Government…again. And to top it all off, Roberto is completely broke.

Cannonball is stunned and says that he is gone for a minute and the entire thing falls over. Roberto replies that Cannonball is overreacting. Roberto says that the U.S. Avengers is over when he says it is over. (And now we get an Animal House reference. This one is even older than the Lloyd Bentsen reference. Yup, nothing beats a nearly 40-year-old reference on a title targeting young teenagers.)

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We then zip forward in time to “Soon. Sooner than you think.” Dr. Ho yells into a communicator for all A.I.M. units and all quinjets to respond. Dr. Ho then calls for all Avengers to respond. Dr. Ho says that she needs help. She says, “We can’t hold him off any longer! He’s killing us all.” We see several video screens around Dr. Ho. One screen has Squirrel Girl just staring forward with nothing around her. (Okay. That was useless.) One screen is of Red Hulk all beaten up from a fight. One screen is a picture of Smasher knocked out. (Or sleeping. She does not have any physical injuries on her like Red Hulk does.) Another screen has Cannonball knocked out. End of issue.

The Good: Eh, there is not much nice to say about U.S. Avengers #12. But, The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity must be satisfied. All right, let’s see, I do like three characters on this roster: Sunspot, Cannonball, and Red Hulk. Of the three characters, only Ross has much of a personality.

Red Hulk was great in this issue. I love seeing an old cranky white guy in a Marvel comic book. This kind of character is a rarity in Marvel comics. Ross adds plenty of desperately needed saltiness to a roster of otherwise painfully bland characters. I also love that the Red Hulk sports a badass cop mustache now. What a fantastic touch to the character.

The only even remotely interesting dialogue was all given to Ross. And Ross did not even get that much panel time at all in this issue. However, the fact remains that Ewing at least manages to give Ross a unique external voice.

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I enjoyed Paco Diaz’s artwork. Diaz’s style of art is slick and dynamic. Diaz is the perfect artist for a mainstream superhero title that focuses mainly on fun, adventure, and action. Diaz handles dialogue-heavy scenes as well as action scenes. Diaz is able to give the various characters excellent facial expressions which help to infuse Ewing’s dull story with some life.

Unfortunately, Diaz is saddled with a lousy story from Ewing. Diaz’s artwork would shine if given more to work with by the writer in terms of action scenes. I would love to see Diaz on a title with a better roster of characters and a better story.

Jesus Aburtov does an excellent job with the colors in U.S. Avengers #12. Aburtov gives this issue a delightfully bright color palette with strong primary colors. This is a perfect match for the look of a mainstream superhero title.

The Bad: U.S.Avengers #12 was an awful read that is full of stupid and lazy writing. That is one terrible combination. Seriously, this story was dumb. The reader will feel as if they lost brain cells once they arrive at the end of this issue.

I am at a loss for the point of this issue. Ewing delivers a story that comes across as Riverdale fanfiction. Was the world demanding that Marvel deliver a comic book that presented a defense to the Riverdale television show? Was there a need for this? Is Marvel a financial investor in the Riverdale television show? Did Marvel’s editorial staff encourage Ewing to write stories about topics having nothing to do with Marvel or its characters? Is Ewing such a devout and rabid fan of Riverdale that he felt the need to shout down any of the critics of his beloved show? Who knows!? But, more importantly, who cares!?

When I purchase a mainstream superhero title by Marvel Comics with the “Avengers” label on the cover I just want straight-up action and adventure starring characters from the Avengers Universe and dealing with plot lines surrounding those same Avengers Universe characters.

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It could be debated that U.S.Avengers #12 is not a defense of the Riverdale television show as much as it is Ewing defending All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One initiative and the belief that constant change is a good thing. If this is the case then U.S.Avengers #12 is even more of a failure.

The fact is that real-life objective sales numbers conclusively show that change for the sake of change is stupid and leads to sales failures. Objective proof in terms of sales numbers has already proven that the All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One initiative has been a massive failure that even lead to the firing of Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. At this point, there is no way a rational person can put forth the argument that the All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One initiative was a success.

Furthermore, there is objective proof in sales numbers that change for the sake of change leads to failure in the entertainment industry. The New 52 was a spectacular failure for DC that lead them to getting crushed in the sales charts and having to pull the plug on the entire New 52. As a die-hard and long-time Legion of Super-Heroes fan I can point to the TMK Legion where we got a massive change to the franchise. Unfortunately, the change was contrary to the core principles of the characters and the franchise and it lead DC to the drastic decision to completely reboot the Legion of Super-Heroes from scratch. This same mistake was repeated with the DnA Legion which once again forced DC to completely reboot the Legion’s continuity for a second time.

The idea that change is constant and a good thing certainly applies to real life. Yes, change is vital to society both socially and politically. But, that is not the case in the entertainment industry. And to confuse the two means financial failure will be constantly repeated. In the entertainment industry, it is vitally important that the core concepts and principles of a franchise and its characters are kept constant. Yes, changes can be made to freshen up an older franchise or set of characters. But, the core concepts and principles must remain constant.

James Bond can certainly be updated and freshened up for a modern audience as compared to a 1960s audience with the original Sean Connery Bond. And small changes can certainly be made as we have seen with the Daniel Craig Bond movies. However, the core principles and concepts have remained the same. The Bond franchise would completely crash and burn if Bond was turned into a Pakistani Muslim immigrant who believed that drinking, gambling, and pre-marital sex were all immoral.

This applies to comic book franchises and characters as well. So, hopefully, Ewing wrote U.S.Avengers #12 as a defense of the Riverdale television show because that would make much more sense than this being a defense of the All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One initiative. And, honestly, I do believe that what Ewing was doing with U.S.Avengers #12 was offering up a defense of the Riverdale television show as crazy as that sounds.

It is bad enough that Ewing decided to give us Riverdale fan-fiction starring Marvel characters. At least Ewing could have delivered a well-crafted, interesting, and intelligent story. I could at least have dealt with the issue if that had been the case. However, Ewing rolls out an issue that appears to have had very little effort put into it.

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U.S. Avengers #12 was a slow and boring read. There was next to zero action in this issue. And that is not a problem if the story delivers gripping plot lines that are intricate and detailed along with compelling character work and finely crafted dialogue. Unfortunately, we get none of that in U.S.Avengers #12 to counterbalance the lack of action in the story.

Ewing moves the story along at a snail’s pace with zero sense of urgency. The story is dull and it never grabs the reader’s attention or gets them invested in the story. Nothing really happens in this issue other than a lot of debating over whether the new Riverdale television show is a proper representation of the Archie comics series.

Ewing begins the issue with a three-page scene that gives the reader a backstory on the colony of Kral X. It is just an exposition dump. And it set the stage for Ewing’s riveting defense of the Riverdale television show that I have never seen.

Ewing then delivers a four-page scene of the U.S. Avengers arriving at Kral X and having Ross’ powers go haywire on him. This might be the most “exciting” moment of the issue. However, four pages dedicated to our heroes arriving on the scene was way too decompressed. This was a four-page scene with about two pages of content.

Ewing then serves up a five-page scene that gives the reader even more backstory of Kral X. This is another massive exposition dump delivered in a dry and boring fashion. This scene is concluded in a laughably ludicrous and convenient manner. Ewing has Cannonball reveal that he was taught to be a master pickpocket by Storm and had pick-pocketed the device to free himself and turn off the devices keeping the Skrulls from shapeshifting. That is convenient! But, what made this even dumber is that Cannonball had this device the entire time that he let Bugface drone on and on about the backstory at X-Kral.

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This is just awful and lazy writing. When writers have characters act stupid just for a plot’s convenience it only serves to pull the reader out of the story and make the story itself seem less authentic. The point is that the reader did not need a whopping eight pages of the backstory of Kral X. Especially since Ewing was delivering an extremely basic and shallow plot-line concerning the debate over Riverdale modernizing the Archie franchise. And because the plot line is so simple Ewing ends up just repeating the same argument over and over again. As if he simply constantly repeats himself that his position will be viewed as the “correct” position.

We then finally get some action in the three-page scene with the women of the U.S. Avengers battling the Power Skrulls. It was a fairly lame action scene. It was short and anti-climactic. There was no drama or any quality psychology behind this fight. The Power Skrulls were just generic bowling pins set up for the women of the U.S.Avengers to knock down with ease.

Ewing ends the issue with a four-page scene that is as dull as the rest of the story. Ewing just repeats himself once more concerning his defense of the Riverdale television show. It is nothing more than beating a dead horse at this point in the issue. The final page of this scene is the “hook” end that is supposed to get the reader excited to come back for the next issue. Your mileage may vary on whether Ewing succeeded or not with this effort.

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There is zero depth to the story in U.S.Avengers #12. This issue is as thin as they come. This story is pure fluff with little actual substance or meat for the reader. This is a bubblegum story that comes across as completely bubble-headed and lacking in intelligence. To further compound the problems with the lack of depth is the fact that the story has little internal logic. Things just happen out of pure convenience for Ewing to move the story along.

There is no character work at all in U.S.Avengers #12. All of the characters are painfully one-dimensional. All of the characters are bland automatons who come across as completely generic and interchangeable. Outside of the Red Hulk, none of the characters have a unique external voice. The dialogue is childish fluff that neither engages nor entertains the reader.

As a side note, I found it hilarious that Ewing wrote an issue that is geared toward readers between the ages of 12–17 but then proceeded to use a 40-year-old reference and a 30-year-old reference. Hilarious.

As I stated before, I loved the artwork in U.S. Avengers #12. My only question concerning the art is why does Roberto look so old in this issue? The guy was a New Mutant. He should still be relatively young. However, Ewing and Diaz have Roberto looking like he is in his early 50’s.

Overall: U.S. Avengers #12 was a truly awful issue in just about every respect other than the artwork. I would only recommend U.S. Avengers #12 to fans of the Riverdale television show. Outside of that audience, I have no idea why anyone else would find this issue even remotely interesting. I would much rather see Ewing write a blog post defending his favorite television show rather than making it an entire issue on an Avengers franchise comic book.