A Whole Lot of Nothing
Well, looks like this is where I bow out.
I had such high hopes for this series to pick up in tempo and show me a really great narrative, but I leave on a pretty shallow and disappointing not. Al, I love your take on Loki, but this series is just too scatterbrained and unclear of what it wants to be.
The issue prominently takes place in Luke's and Jessica's new home as they move in, with their friends helping to move all their stuff over. It's a nice setting to have a generally family-oriented story take place in. And yet, none of it feels like it amounts to much. Jessica talks with Blue Marvel briefly about how she's annoyed about it and why it's happening, but otherwise it just feels like an excuse to have as many characters around as possible.
The first big issue here is what has really undermined the whole operation; too many characters. The story tries to make time for everyone (except for Ronin, who is still missing from the previous issue), but most of them don't actually do or offer anything interesting to contribute. In my mind, I compare this to the recent series of the Uncanny X-Men (minus the Battle of the Atom BS): There, we have a strong cast of new characters who all seem to contribute something to the story in a meaningful way in almost every issue. Most events involve everyone and has everyone adding something new. Here, we see characters say one or two lines and be left on the sidelines. This is particularly frustrating with the addition of Iron Fist, who does nothing the entire book other than stand around for two or 3 panels of the book.
The few characters that are developed upon are Blue Marvel, Luke Cage, White Tiger, and the new Power Man, all of which are fairly interesting characters. But the ways in which this is dons is pretty bland. White Tiger goes on a brief, brooding rant about how she doesn't want anyone else getting hurt by people like the guy who killed his father and runs off. It's a little out of no where, though it does fit her personality, and feels forced in the context of the general peaceful setting. Also, there's a brief scene about the new Power Man learning about his abilities, but it's so out of the way and out of nowhere, it feels awkward, and it's obvious that this is only done to set up for future uses of his powers, possibly in the next issue. It also creates the question of why these select characters who are with him, as well as the new Power Man himself, aren't helping their friend, the original Power Man who Victor idolizes, move in to his new pad. It's a weird moment that makes little sense.
But the bigger moment of character development is when Luke Cage and Blue Marvel begin to discus a past event they were both involved in, back when Luke was a villain. This is a huge offender of why this issue falls so flat. We are given a brief idea of what happened (that Blue Marvel and Luke Cage were on opposite sides of the conflict), but the duo soon go off on a lengthy tangent about the politics of it all, who the president was at the time, role models for African America superheroes at the time, etc. I still have no idea what all of it meant or much of what the conversation was about beyond some clear character development at the end of the issue. It's a huge chunk of the story that I know literally nothing about, but is poorly explained and feels rather preachy and out of place in this issue.
There's also some sort of grungy, noir-esque plot going on in the background about a character no one knows or cares about, and it leads to nothing beyond setting up for the next issue, but it's so drawn out and boring, I stopped caring quickly.
There's a new art style here, and it's okay, but nothing special. I personally preferred the other look, but it matters little to me at this point.
Also, a small detail that bothered me was that Danielle is seen in Spider-Man footy pajamas. Seeing as the family has serious beef with Spidey, why is their kid dressed up like him? It's small details like that that really irks me.
And, on top of all that, two of the cover characters, Falcon and Iron Fist, do next to nothing the whole book, as Falcon on appears in the last few pages and I've already covered Iron Fist above. It just seems very sloppy to overlook details like this.
Finally, thematically, this book keeps sending us in different directions. First, we were presented with the idea of what Avengers means to people and to Luke Cage, and why setting up this team mattered. Then, it was a family book, about how everyone sticks up for each other, etc. But, meanwhile, AL was trying to introduce a lot of old characters into the book, and then he started adding some well known characters just for the heck of it, while not fully fleshing out any of the new characters. This results in a million things happening at once and no satisfying conclusions for any of them. I'm tired of him trying to pull me this way and that.
With an obnoxious cliffhanger that means little to me, I'm afraid this is where I leave. I honestly wish I could see this series out, but it just hasn't pulled together into something more feasible or thematically stable.For now, I'll have to settle with Loki's exploits.