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Review: Avengers Academy

This title's "finesse" is its strongest point.

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Finesse ponders her own motivations and the lure of her possibly-super villainous past while the new members of the Academy face off against Arsenal, an old war machine created by Howard Stark's.       

The Good

Finesse's characterization is the highlight of this issue. I don't think I've ever encountered a personality quite like her's in any story. She's almost super-humanly aware of herself and her teammates' motivations. I'd say she's clinical about it, but that's not really the word. She doesn't come off like a robot, just oddly detached. I especially like how she deduces how she's probably got some relation to the Taskmaster and how she's probably going to turn evil without any real emotional investment in the implications. Whether it's her own potential corruption or surprise attacks from Arsenal - - everything's just a statement of fact to her. Rather than being motivated by altruism or selfishness, she's instead driven by a strangely-pathologicaly, amoral desire to learn, and that's truly unique.  McKone's art is great to see here, as well. He's always got the chops for heoric anatomy and dynamic action, but his real strength is the amount of personality he's able to convey through these characters' body language. I'm really impressed by the range of subtle emotions and reactions he's able to render through just the subtlest turn of lines in facial expressions. These  Avengers looks like real people and awkward teens, not posing statues.

The Bad

Even with the twist about how these kids were chosen for their super-villainous potential by Norman Osborn, this still feels like the third or fourth team that Marvel's got out there who are supposed to be "the next generation of heroes." The notion of Finesse (and possibly other team members) having supervillainois parents even overlaps a little on the origins of the  Bastards of Evil that the Young Allies are currently facing in their own book. Maybe there will soon prove to be a lot more than meets the eye but, at the moment, I can't help feeling like this title's doing a little conceptual "double-dipping."

The Verdict - 3.5/5

Right now, the best thing this book's got going for it is Finesse's unique characterization and the routes that the Academy's potentially super-villainous connections could go. I've enjoyed Gage's writing in the past, so I trust he's got some aces up his sleeve. And it's, of course, still early in the series to judge this book without giving it a fair shake, but I think there's going to have to be some twists, and soon, to make this title stand out from books like Young Allies, Young Avengers and even Runaways.