Avengers #5 Review

by Charles Martin on July 18, 2018

Avengers #5 Review
Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencillers: Paco Medina & Ed McGuinness
Inkers: Juan Vlasco with Mark Morales & Karl Story
Colourist: David Curiel
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

If you ever wrote a letter asking for Marvel to make your Avengers "bigger," dang have Jason Aaron and company heard your call.

Loki starts us off with some lip service that summarizes all the hints dropped so far about this whole Celestial/Dark Celestial/Horde bug mess. It's a big ole ball of sci-fi clichés - precursor aliens, ancient evolutionary hanky-panky, space locusts, Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, yadda yadda. This is not the scrupulously-planned, elaborately-foreshadowed sort of story Jason Aaron is telling in his Thor books; this feels like the result of one casual brainstorming session. I bet beer was involved.

Robbie Reyes is the big winner here, rescuing Cap and Ubering him to the rest of the team for the big Assembling. He's not completely confident and he requires a Steve Rogers Pep Talk™ to get pumped for the final confrontation. Still, if you're looking for a strong character-focused story, the Ghost Rider getting talked around to Avengering in this issue is as close as you're gonna get.

I have to exercise some caution in talking about the art. Paco Medina and Ed McGuinness make an excellent match. They have very similar styles and their work meshes seamlessly. They draw awesome-looking heroes. The inking crew and colourist David Curiel tie all the visuals into one consistent and very vibrant package. 

The art commits one sin over and over, though, and I think it's one that belongs primarily to Mr. McGuinness. The drive to showcase incredible character portraits on almost every page gets in the way of telling the story. It looks awesome from a character standpoint. I bet if you were a publicist working for the Avengers or the Dark Celestials (or Dodge, because the Hell-Charger gets its share of love), you'd be delighted with the amount of badassitude this arrangement puts on the page. 

For pure readability, though, it's disastrous. The narrative teleports from page to page and the visuals are utterly reliant on the words to make sense of what happens next. In previous issues, I noted how this style makes it look like there's a bigger world lurking outside the pages and panels. Now that quality has gone overboard. It feels like plot-critical moments and details are getting missed. The arrival of Tony's "GK Mk II" surprise at the end is so badly handled visually that I spent quite a long time wondering if my review file was missing pages.

Characterization remains a chronic problem for this title, too. Steve Rogers actually tells Robbie, "Stark's the smartass, kid. I'm the hardass." Forget what Mark Waid put in one of his Cap issues a few months back, that is the least Captain America thing I've ever heard. Tony is completely Robert Downey Jr-fied. Even Loki is indulging in wince-worthy lines, telling Doctor Strange to "bringeth it on!" 

So with all my nits picked, why am I still rating this comfortably above average? Because dag blast it, it is honest and pure in its big dumb awesomeness. The face She-Hulk pulls when she does the thing with the frost giant blood is hilarious. Robbie's vehicle progression from Hell-Charger to farm tractor to "you won't believe it when it happens" is incredible. The staggeringly silly Bronze Age reference on the final page warms my bitter old "I've read too many Marvel comics" heart.

If you're looking for literary merit or scrupulous storytelling craft or insightful characterization, Avengers #5 is likely to disappoint. If you address the comic on its own terms and let its sound and fury carry you over the top into absurd popcorn movie spectacle, it's a thoroughly entertaining ride. You won't feel like putting it on a pedestal once it's over, but while you're turning the pages, it is a lot of fun.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Jason Aaron does seem to have a stronger grasp on his second-tier Avengers than the Holy Trinity. Here's hoping they get even more attention in future stories!