by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I’ve been reading, collecting, and following weekly American comics for well over a decade now, and I’ve watched not only the industry grow, but my own tastes as well; the type of standard, “heroes beat villain and saves the world” stories that were once exciting have become a bit routine. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for these kind of stories within the industry, but they need a little something special to stand out and really feel worth investing in, and unfortunately, I haven’t found that spark yet in Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’ run on Avengers.
For what it’s worth, Avengers 3 is a perfectly serviceable comic book. It’s got action and conflict, some interesting character choices, and even a bit of mystery. For many readers that might be more than enough to create a compelling comic, and I pass no judgement on those readers. As far as I’m concerned, though, this issue lacks substance; for all its action and big name characters, it lacks any sort of thematic purpose or statement. Perhaps even worse, there’s a sense of scale and stakes that’s just missing. The Avengers are fighting ancient, practically omnipotent beings capable of destroying the entire planet, whose very existence seems to be rewriting the history of the Marvel universe as we know it, but the weight those kind of threats should be presenting just isn’t present in the issue. Even Captain America’s supposed “heroic sacrifice” just kind of happens, shrugged off in a “ho-hum” manner.
In a way I applaud Aaron and McGuinness for not trying to trick the audience with a death we all know won’t stick, but ultimately I’d rather have them do that than undercut the moment altogether by robbing it of any gravitas, treating it as just another everyday event instead of a traumatic moment that should rock the Avengers to their very core, even if just for a few minutes before they can confirm that Steve is okay. It feels like the Avengers, and thus the creative team, are just going through the motions, even when they should be fighting their greatest threat ever. Even Iron Man and Captain Marvel’s bickering feels rote and expected; Aaron likely feels required to address their tension, yet ultimately does nothing new or interesting with it, just reminding readers that Civil War II did indeed happen (no thanks, I’d rather forget). It’s a moment that feels like a box getting crossed off a checklist rather than something interesting, urgent, or essential. And that’s really been this run of Avengers so far as a whole — it’s out because Marvel needs to publish an Avengers book, not because anyone in their bullpen has an important story to tell or a new way of telling it. With as many fascinating, innovative comics as there are out there, it feels harder and harder to devote my time to a book like this.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?