Marvel Spinner Rack: Avengers, Defenders, Captain America, Wolverine & the X-Men

There were a couple of series I don’t talk about here that I enjoyed reading, but since I’m catching up on a teetering stack, those issues were a month old. Under the premise that superhero comics that aged are stale, I’ll instead try to talk about those titles when the next issues come out in the next week or two.

Avengers Academy #27

Avengers Academy #27 cover

written by Christos Gage
art by Karl Moline and Jim Fern

Who knew? This crossover issue — well, not really a crossover, since the Runaways don’t have a book — was good. We learn something about each of the team members for both teams. We get to see similar and different characters interact across groups. There’s a mission — reuniting the boy with his missing dinosaur friend that I can get behind and go “awww” over. (Although last time I remember seeing the Runaways, I could have sworn that one of the girls had the dinosaur bond.) Typical of this title, there’s some secret plotting, as not everyone has the same motivation.

There was a character I didn’t recognize who wasn’t identified, either in the story or in the introductory text page. That’s the kid riding the Sentinel. His name is Juston, apparently, but I don’t know anything else about him. That’s surprising, since there’s plenty of exposition-speak elsewhere — but I didn’t mind the occasional flat tone, since I appreciated the information.

Still, there were enough cool little bits, from Striker’s public coming out to Tigra’s distraction of little girls by showing them her “kitten” son, that I enjoyed the read. I would like to see more of Klara, particularly, since she’s from a century ago and speaks amusingly anachronistically. She’s responsible for Tigra pointing out that it’s actually sensible for her not to wear very much, the first time I’ve ever heard that explained.

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #9 cover

written by Allan Heinberg
art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales

Almost two years for that? Spoilers follow… if you don’t want them, skip to the next heading.

So the end result of this is that the Avengers look like hypocrites several times over, a promising hero is dead (because there are never enough dead girls in superhero comics), the Young Avengers are blown to smithereens (figuratively), and, most important for Marvel, everyone’s ready for the Next Big Event.

The whole series is best summed up by an accidentally (I assume) placed ad break. On the left-hand page, someone says, “So what do we do now?” On the right is an ad for Avengers vs. X-Men. Never mind the moral debates or mourning, just rush right into a big ol’ battle to sell comics.

What’s heroic about quitting? Especially when you provided role models by being black or female or gay for kids who didn’t see themselves in the regular Marvel universe. But hey, at least the boys got to kiss. That’s nice, but it doesn’t make up, for me, for the bigger losses.

Avengers: Saving the Day

Avengers: Saving the Day cover

written by James Asmus
art by Andrea Di Vito

Most of the movie Avengers characters are joined by Giant-Man and Spider-Man for this comic to promote financial literacy and the value of saving and budgeting. Giant-Man’s there in order to allow for lots of silly size-changing jokes, especially on the part of Hulk (stupid version), which gave me a giggle. (Although the scene were tiny Thor flies up and smacks the bad guy on the cheek was funny, too.) The team has shrunk to sneak in and prevent a bank robbery. Along the way, we get to hear about how great banks are and all the neat things they do for us.

This comic isn’t one for the ages — although it may be entertaining in another decade or so as an example of this era’s attempt at propaganda — but I enjoyed seeing the characters interact with each other in so light-hearted a manner. It was also good to see a straightforward mission that didn’t spin an issue’s worth of plot into four or six, or one that can’t be enjoyed without a bunch more tie-ins.

I know, saying “this isn’t as bad as the main books” isn’t really praise, but I did want to point readers to this. After all, it’s free.

Captain America #9

Captain America #9 cover

written by Ed Brubaker
art by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer

I’m always glad to see more work from Alan Davis, and the concept of exploring what makes Captain America special by taking away his super-serum enhancements isn’t a bad one, but I’m ready for the story to be over already. Read monthly, this and the previous two issues have felt like treading water. In fact, I picked up this installment, started reading, and had to double-check that it wasn’t #7, since it felt much too similar.

I really liked the movie version of the character, and I’m ready to see his modern-day adventures, but it seems that you can’t read his stories these days without already being familiar with his supporting cast and old villains, since this leverages both to make this tale seem more important than it is. Can I just get a story where Cap tries to do the right thing but has to confront how the definition of that has changed over the decades? I’d also like to see heroism and good intent win out at the end, while I’m dictating. Or is Captain America another hero, like Superman, who is more entertaining in the concept than in actual stories?

I also object to all the pseudo-scientific equipment being used to investigate Cap’s condition, since it’s clear to me that causing 80 or so pounds of muscle to disappear instantly isn’t a scientific process.

The Defenders #4

The Defenders #4 cover

written by Matt Fraction
art by Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, and Brian Thies

When I read this piece last week on how the Defenders sales are dropping hard (link no longer available), my thought was, “it’s probably because it’s not very good.” Then I read this issue, and I liked it a lot. (One might think that my brain is wired wrong, so that only books that are going to die entertain it, but that would be mean and jaded to suspect about me. I prefer to think that my tastes aren’t well-served by the direct market, which is geared to get material to an audience not like me.)

By focusing mostly on Dr. Strange and some of his relationships, Fraction provides a hook for me to deal with these wacky characters. Plus, I like the mystery of the weird, twisted-pipe machine and its magical abilities.

Strange’s power is solid, but it’s clear that it’s wielded by a very human man, and his decisions on that level shape the story. I hope to see more of Molly, Strange’s embarrassed one-night stand. Yet he’s still wise enough to outsmart an upstart wannabe who thinks he’s got Strange where he wants him. I’d like to see more like this. I hope it’s not too late.

Wolverine and the X-Men #7

Wolverine and the X-Men #7 cover

written by Jason Aaron
art by Nick Bradshaw, Walden Wong, and Norman Lee

It’s really neat to have an X-Men book to look forward to reading. It’s imaginative. It’s got creative use of powers, a diverse group of neat kid characters (who act like teens in their egotism and treatment of others), the teacher/student setup that works so well to create problems (as the kids rebel) and restore order (as the teachers fix things), fascinating and fresh ideas, and most importantly, a sense of humor.

This issue wraps up a three-part storyline, so it may not be the best place to start, but I’m intrigued to find out how Kitty handles the baby Broods inside her and how Wolverine and Quentin Quire (a great new creation, for new meaning “within the last decade”) escape the interstellar casino they’ve been rooking and how the shrunken students wandering around inside Kitty survive.

(For those who think I’m being inconsistent by not complaining about use of the Brood, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything with them. The part I need to know — that they’re crazy killing group aliens — was clearly explained to me through the previous two issues. Plus, now I know more about student Broo.)

I like that there’s more to this than just a showdown, as a galactic xenobiologist is attempting to perform a particularly destructive type of science to maintain the “natural order”. And I like the Bamfs, one of the supporting cast that are used judiciously in just the right amounts to be entertaining without overdoing it. Leave the audience wanting more, right? They also acknowledge the history of the franchise while treating it in new ways for new readers.

The Art

I did a bad job here in not talking about the art. None of it impressed me enough to note it, but none of it failed so badly that it got in the way of the story. Overall, these books looked good.

8 Responses to “Marvel Spinner Rack: Avengers, Defenders, Captain America, Wolverine & the X-Men”

  1. James Schee Says:

    I need to track down that Avengers Academy issue, as I live the Runaways. Justin would be from the short lived Sentinel series, by Sean Mckeever where a kid found a damaged Sentinel.

    The dinosaur did belng to a female character, but she died saving the team and passed the Dino’s control to her boyfriend Chase.

    Gosh that description for Children’s Crusade sound depressing. Along with Runaways, YA brought refreshing new characters that fit into the Marvel universe. I really hope they aren’t being thrown away, and I worry which female character dies. Tho with a movie coming out with a male character with same code name I have my suspicions.

    I loved Captain America series under Brubaker until this new series start. It just seems so…. Tame I guess. There was an edge or something that seems missing and for some reason Davis art seems too flat to me. I’m bored and keep thinking of moving on.

    I am loving Wolverine and the XMen, the characters doing new things in new roles just really works. I tried all of the Xbooks and this is the one that I’m anxious to see each issue.

  2. James Schee Says:

    Dang iPad auto correct live = love Justin = juston

  3. Mentor Says:

    Wait, I thought they cleaned out Caps system of any of the super serum back in the Ron Lim days of the series in the early 90s. There was a story where they found out the serum was becoming toxic so he had to do some kind of detox thing. He was still in peak physical condition and some of age retardant factor lingered, but he had lost any superstrength he once had. It was actually a pretty good story because the detox process was like actual detox. It really messed him up.

    I’m also enjoying Defenders and I didn’t mind the fill in artist in this issue. I also really enjoyed the Molly character. I hope we see more of her because I like seeing Strange through her eyes. I also really liked the fate of the magician kid. That was fun.

    As far as Childrens Crusade and the other Avengers Xmen stuff, I just hope that after it’s all said and done that we get Wanda back and that she remarries the Vision.

  4. Mitchell Craig Says:

    As much as I like Cap, I haven’t really followed his book that much since the classic Stern/Byrne run (got the TPB, so I’m happy there). The exception was the Waid/Kubert run involving Cap’s quest to save the world’s vibranium from blowing up.

    Wolverine and the X-Men is, as the youngsters say, da bomb.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for filling in the history, James. I get the impression Brubaker is more invested in Winter Soldier, but I don’t want to read a spy comic. Especially one with superheroes in it, because that makes it all wildly unbelievable.

  6. James Schee Says:

    What? Super intelligent, Nazi gorillas with jet packs are unbelievable? Sheesh, next you’ll say we never went to the moon Johanna. :)

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