Comic Vine Review


Avengers #37 - Archangel


When mediating a conflict between two sets of monumentally superpowered individuals, context is EVERYthing!

The Good

There are many kinds of cross-overs. Ones that require one issue after another of unconnected titles to be read in a particular order to maintain narrative, tie-ins with major events, even issues that are barely connected except when they’re all read. What we have with the current run of AVENGERS titles is something that doesn’t require everything to be read to maintain plot coherency, but IF they all are, the experience is much, much richer. The last issue of NEW AVENGERS took us through the world we dropped into in issue #36 of THIS title, but, in my opinion, went too far without any kind of emotional grounding nor context for what exactly had happened to leave the world in the state it’s in. Jonathan Hickman provides us with a heaping helping of exactly that this issue, and it’s making for one epic, amazing narrative. Apparently the governments of the world found out not JUST about Incursions but about the Cabal’s methods for dealing with them. They are not thrilled with a world (potentially universe) ending event being kept in the hands of a privileged few and now things have degenerated considerably for both sides. S.H.I.E.L.D. finds itself only able to freely within the borders of the United States and the Illuminati is still on the run. As far as we can tell, the Cabal is operating on other Earths with total impunity as well. This issue focuses much more on the S.H.I.E.L.D. side of things than the mostly-disbanded Illuminati and Sue Storm’s role within the new organization. We also get a snapshot of an enraged, impatient Steve Rogers, still in uniform but also depowered. Seeing Cap’s slow motion breakdown is not easy to watch, but considering all that’s gone on, it actually doesn’t feel out of character. We get glimpses of Carol Danvers and Clint Barton as well, but the main event is unequivocally Sue and Steve, both of whom have some very, very interesting developments by issue’s end.

Mike Deodato is back on a Hickman book and he has been missed. His smooth, hyper-detailed linework is perfect for this strangely subdued, suddenly violent issue. There’s also a great deal of extreme contrasts in terms of visual style, from dark, dank underground caverns to the brightly, almost washed-out hallways of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier. The style makes everything harsh and heightens the sense of rage-fueled desperation as they scramble to find any trace of the fugitive Illuminati. Frank Martin handles the colors and they complement both the writing and the linework to a tee. Not just the lighting, but the characters themselves appear darker, more shaded and weathered after less than a year. It lends character and depth to the issue.

The Bad

Sue Storm’s motivations, though now more understood, still aren’t terribly well-defined. Without giving anything away, I didn’t know why, exactly, she was doing what she was in NEW AVENGERS, and now I actually know even LESS after this revelation. Likewise the reason for making S.H.I.E.L.D. an organization that can only operate in the US, despite it being international, isn’t terribly fleshed out.

The Verdict

Things are still muddy and mysterious, but this issue, at least, feels like it’s doing far more with the characters it has in terms of defining them and giving them a context in the greater narrative. The fact that it does more to define that NARRATIVE is also not hurting anything. I still have faith that Hickman will fill out the backstory of exactly what went down and while we’re losing out on some emotional investment, there are enough small hints and details to make it feel like it’s all building to something substantial.