Friday, 17 December 2010

Avengers Academy #7 review

It's been a couple of years, so Hank Pym gets a new look. Mind, it's based on an old look, to go with an old name. Bye bye Wasp II, hello again, Giant Man I. The reasons for the change make good sense, and I'm happy to see Hank embrace a large part of his history. Plus,  I love colossal heroes and there's already an Ant Man running around the Marvel Universe.

In the second issue of this book to focus on the older Avengers rather than the students, Hank's not the only veteran to get a great big dollop of characterisation. Tigra's emotions run riot as she learns the genetic identity of son William (named after her late husband), and Hank is caught in the crossfire.

Hank has problems of his own, as he must decide whether to bring the Wasp, currently in cosmic stasis in another realm, back to physical life. The risk is that Jan's mind will be shattered after her extra-dimensional ordeal. But Hank misses her so very much ...

The action this issue comes courtesy of an encounter with the Absorbing Man, who shows the cocky Academy kids just why he's survived so long in the super-villain game. He's not present simply to punch things, though - Crusher Creel casts light on Hank's various issues, and highlights his humanity.

Christos Gage produces another script that's as intelligent as it is entertaining. And it's very entertaining. He's doing a great job of sharing out the limelight over time, rather than attempting to shoehorn everyone into every issue. So Quicksilver and Speedball aren't around this month, but Justice is shown to have Hank's respect while Jocasta ... well, let's just say I'm not sure I trust her advice right now.

Tom Raney provides fantastic superhero art - he does action, he does emotion, he does cute cat-human hybrid babies. It's a real shame that a production error credits regular artist Mike McKone with the pencils. Inkers Dave Meikis and Scott Hanna keep the visuals looking sharp, while Jeromy Cox and Andrew Crossley's colours are a pleasure to look at. And Joe Caramagna makes calligraphy look effortless. 
Topping off the latest issue of Marvel's finest Avengers title is McKone's cover homage to 1969's Avengers #63, by Gene Colan and George Klein, which is pure delight.

14 comments:

  1. The Avengers #63 cover, ironically, is the first appearance of Clint Barton (former Hawkeye) as Goliath II.
    (Hank Pym is the tiny figure of YellowJacket.)
    and I've noticed a recent trend away from including a "after so-and-so" credit by the artist's signature when such "based on" covers appear these days, and I can't figure out why... :-(

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  2. I'd like to see a moratorium called on tribute covers. It used to be an occasional bit of fun, John Byrne retooling FF #1's cover, etc., but now it seems all too frequent on too many titles, and frequently with rather lackluster sources.

    Occasional = good.

    Every other issue = creative dead end.

    That Avengers #63 is one of my all-time favourites, both cover and story, but look at how much fresher the new Amy Reeder Supergirl cover looks in the blog entry below than the Avengers Academy effort. Let's see some new covers worthy of homaging in 30 years' time and let the past stay in the past.

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  3. Proof you can't follow everything is comics: I had no idea that Tigra was married, or that her husband died, or that she had a kid.

    I usually enjoy Tom Raney's art, but he is rarely on a book I am interested in.

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  4. Spot on regarding Clint, Britt. That's the best design of any Goliath, with the blue colourways looking best of all.

    I don't understand artists not adding the 'after' - I'd have thought they'd be delighted to be seen as a link in the history of comics.

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  5. Krusty, you must be seeing more homages than I am, as I'm not tired of them yet. I've never seen that splendid Avengers cover reworked - I'd love to know of any others.

    We could maybe call time on the most-done, such as Amazing Fantasy #15, Action Comics #1, Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 and (help!) that Hulk issue with him being crushed by the logo.

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  6. Travis, Tigra's husband died before she even became the Cat. The baby is the child of a Skrull in Hank's form.

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  7. Mart - you're thinking of Steranko's cover to Incredible Hulk Annual #1.

    Also, any of the early issues of Fantastic Four and the X-Men Days of Future Past (wanted posters on wall) cover.

    I can excuse the Crisis #7 one, as it is a homage in itself, isn't it? X-Men #137 which in turn probably owes a tip of the ruby quartz visor to Michelangelo's Pieta.

    But the point I'm really getting at is a month doesn't go by without a smattering of "homage" covers these days. Buscema, Kirby et al were all great artists of course, I just would rather see new stuff and have the homage as the occasional exception.

    Randomly difficult question - when did the first homage cover appear?

    - I'm guessing around about 1983... either Spidey's black costume or a Byrne redoes FF #1 perhaps?

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  8. "Randomly difficult question - when did the first homage cover appear?"

    At Marvel, I'd say 1972's Fantastic Four #126, John Buscema/Joe Sinnott's redo of FF #1.
    The story was a recap of the Lee/Kirby FF #1 origin story.

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  9. Did you lads ever see the piece about the many homages to Michelangelo's Pieta?

    http://comiccoverage.typepad.com/comic_coverage/2007/04/comic_book_cove.html#more

    Mind, surely sometimes an artist simply needs to draw someone holding a body? Shouldn't a Pieta homage have someone seated rather than standing?

    Here's another nicely researched piece:

    http://vu.morrissey-solo.com/moz/perez/homages.htm

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  10. I enjoyed his Wasp costume, it gave him a science-y look that was very fitting to the Scientist Supreme.

    And as for the Pieta; I don't think the Crisis #7 cover is a Pieta homage... it's just Supes holding Kara's body; in a very different position and attitude than the Pieta's participants...

    Now, the Captain Atom cover that's first in the gallery is obviously a Pieta homage; while others are Crisis #7 homages/parodies; and some might be Pieta homages (but I didn't look in-depth this time, I've seen the gallery before, though).

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  11. I like the idea of the scientist coat more than the execution - it generally looked too heavy to move in.

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  12. Wasn't talking about the coat, but about the goggles, belt, and the actual costume. It looked more science-ey than the circusman get-up he wears as Giant Man.

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  13. Pym's costumes tend towards a "functional uniform" (literally "red unionsuit") look, rather than flashy.
    The Scarlet Witch designed the purple/yellow Goliath outfit and Jan designed the bare-chested garb that Clint co-opted when he took over the Goliath identity.
    Hank's only "flashy" ensemble was the YellowJacket costume he conceived during a nervous breakdown.

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  14. Good Lord, a decent Van Dyne design!

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