Avengers #27 Review

by Charles Martin on November 27, 2019

Avengers #27 Review
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciller: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Mark Morales
Colourist: Jason Keith
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Avengers #27 opens with Gladiator coldly executing people as he gets up to speed on a serious problem inside the Shi'ar's Ravenstarr prison galaxy. He goes in to investigate personally, leaving instructions to call the Avengers if he doesn't return in a timely fashion.

The call is made, of course. Cap leads a short team into space. Tony's MIA and Black Panther's searching for him; to bolster the roster, he gets Black Widow. It's a welcome addition even if Natasha's help is largely theoretical so far.

The story leaps straight from blast-off to five days into the mission, after everything's gone wrong. Half the team is lost in space, the space-Quinjet is hopelessly stuck in "magnetic webs" laid by the prison's eight quadrillion (!) prisoners, a vengeful Starbrand (or Starbrands, plural?) is wrecking the place, somebody's turning into a Brood …

Cap should not have listened when the X-Men told him a space mission would be a fun vacation from Earthly superhero problems. (I make the joke for a reason; the Avengers' precarious situation here feels a lot like classic 80s X-Men In Space -- in an entirely good way.)

This comic's "jump straight to the worst part" plot is an ambitious and mostly-successful structural gamble. On the rough side, it obliges the creators to chain together three stage-setting scenes one after the other, which may give the not-inaccurate impression that they're ducking around important action scenes & plot developments.

But the "worst part" is so bad that there's no shortage of spectacle in the rear half of the issue. Ed McGuinness has plenty of grist for his Big-Budget Action Comix mill, and he cranks out plenty of impressive scenes. 

The art is strongly character-focused, but it's coordinated well with the script to make sure there's a smooth storyline flowing from panel to panel and page to page.

Mark Morales and Jason Keith put the finishing touches on the visuals by creating excellent tension between the dark, chilly space settings and the colourful, larger-than-life superheroes moving through them. 

The cast and the action are big enough that the little moments of characterization stand out. Robbie provides some obligatory "wow! Space!" optimism, Gladiator's murderous pragmatism underlines the high stakes, and She-Hulk draws attention to long-running plot threads by calling out the possible link between her new explodey Gamma powers and the Starbrand.

Jason Aaron's struck an effective balance for Jen, finally, by keeping the Hulk's spoken dialogue monosyllabic while giving Jen fully-articulated thought bubbles. It's a welcome development and it seems poised to play an important role if Jen, as already suggested, stands at the center of this story.

Though things are grim right out of the gate for the Avengers, this space yarn is not entirely serious. The sheer magnitude of the problems the team's facing borders on the absurd, and there are more than a few touches of comedy. Captain America deadpan-dictates a "Captain's Log" about his space adventures and refers to the missing part of the team as "Lost in Space." 

Cap may not be fully aware of the irony, but his creators surely are. They're owning up, right at the outset, to the fact that Marvel space stories often tend toward the derivative. Based on this initial chapter, they're going to do a good job of drawing from many sources rather than engaging in outright ripoffery.

Things go wrong with a fearsome quickness when Cap takes the Avengers to space. While the flash-forward structure may irk some readers, those that play along are going to have a blast. The challenges are vast, the visuals are gorgeous, and key characters get some brief but endearing focus. "Starbrand Reborn" kicks off with a tone that's big, bold, and just a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I love the visual reactions the Avengers have to blast-off: drunk Thor, bored She-Hulk, nauseous Ghost Rider.