Secret Avengers #23
Yalda, a Pakistani woman who has unexpectedly exhibited the ability to absorb and redirect massive amounts of energy, has been abducted, along with her son, by a group of unusual Adaptoids, androids able to mimic superpowers. Though the Secret Avengers were unable to stop them, Ant-Man is able to hitch a ride with them and soon discovers a large underground city full of Adaptoids. Meanwhile, we get plenty of team moments — Beast tells Hank Pym that he’s going to do everything he can to make sure Pym never creates another artificial intelligence again, because all of his robots tend to turn out to be evil. Captain America and Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch from World War II, meet with Peter Parker’s old nemesis Flash Thompson, who’s lost his legs in the war and now serves as the part-time host to the Venom symbiote so he can use it for special ops missions. Hawkeye is dead set against having Venom as a team member, however, and kicks him and Cap off the team’s satellite.
Back in the Adaptoid city, their leader realizes that Yalda will never agree to join them, so he orders her killed. Ant-Man springs into action, but he’s no match for all of them. Yalda is killed, but Ant-Man is able to escape into the city with her child, despite his damaged helmet. The rest of the Secret Avengers finally make it into the city, but will they be in time to save Ant-Man?
Verdict: Thumbs down. So much stuff wrong with this. First, there’s a serious problem with Hawkeye being in charge of the team. As Snell points out, Hawkeye is the last person around who should be complaining about former villains like Venom joining the Avengers. Plus kicking Captain America — Captain Freakin’ America! — out of an Avengers HQ! And just generally complaining and bitching at everyone. Dude just doesn’t have what it takes. Second, I’m really not a fan of creating fairly interesting characters like Yalda just to have her stupidly killed. And the art is just not something I’m having an easy time getting adjusted to. And I am fairly bugged that, despite that awesome Art Adams cover, Venom doesn’t ever really show up in the story. Having said all that, I did like this issue’s treatment of Ant-Man and his completely outmatched struggle against the Adaptoids — very action-packed and desperate in all the right ways.
Avengers Academy #26
Jocasta and Veil are back — and they want Avengers Academy shut down permanently. Jocasta insists that it’s too dangerous, and teenaged superheroes are too likely to be killed. The rest of the Avengers object strongly, and Jocasta calls in backup — corporate supervillain Jeremy Briggs and a bunch of kids from the Initiative who they’ve recruited. They’re all set to have a typical superhero-vs.-superhero fight — and Reptil hits everyone with his tail and tells ’em to settle the heck down and quit acting like idiots. And it works! Everyone basically sits down and debates the pros and cons of teen superheroes vs. teen corporate metahumans. And they do that for almost the entire issue!
Verdict: Thumbs up. I never would’ve imagined that a superhero comic this wordy would work so well — but it does work excellently. There’s no significant shift in the cast of the comic, but all the issues are addressed fairly honestly — and it’s just a good, fun comic to read. Try doing this with a normal Avengers comic and it’d fall to pieces…