Saturday, November 6, 2010

Avengers Academy #6

Our introduction to the young members of the Avengers Academy has been handled very well, through the clever device of focusing each of the first six issues on one of those characters.

It's worked well for me, because I had never seen any of them before - if they had been introduced in a previous comic appearance, I missed it (remember Chuck's Rule #1 - "You can't read everything").

Other series just tend to pile the characters in, slap a name tag on them in the first splash page in the comic and leave it at that. Here, we're actually learning about the characters, their motivations, their concerns and their aspirations.

This comic is sort of the anti-Thunderbolts. In its original incarnation, that comic was about super-villains who were pretending to be heroes. It was interesting to watch some of them actually become heroes, while others refused to change their stripes.

Avengers Academy, on the other hand, is about a group of young heroes who might just wind up being villains - supposedly the Avengers want to keep an eye on these teens because of that potential.

This issue focuses on Reptil, who can morph into any dinosaur. (Interestingly enough, he's a central character on the animated Super Hero Squad.)

He becomes the Academy's first leader, and finds the responsibility weighs heavy - especially since he's sometimes unsure about his own powers.

So kudos to writer Christos Gage for making this comic much more than the usual super-hero head-banging. Instead it gives us characters we care about, and leaves us wondering what the future holds.

Mike McKone has been doing terrific work on the art side of the equation - his characters are expressive, the layouts are energetic, and the action is fierce.

I wasn't sure about this series at first - perhaps partially because of the Avengers overload we're getting from Marvel these days - but the creative team has really won me over.

They're doing great work here, and it's well worth checking out.

Grade: A-


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