Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Avengers 386

Avengers 386, "Shadow Hunt," prelude to "Taking A.I.M.," Cover Date May 1995
Written by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Pencils by guest penciler Angel Medina, Inks by guest inker Scott Koblish

Avengers 386 cover

 Previously on the Avengers: Bob Harras had begun co-writing with Terry Kavanagh, a Brazilian artist known for his depictions of heroines in thongs took over the art chores, and the Avengers found themselves led to a base in the Yukon territory where they were attacked by the Red Skull!

The issue begins with the Red Skull, eyes bulging, demanding the Avengers give him information regarding something taken from him. The Avengers, still hanging onto each other to avoid falling into a chasm, don't answer, except for the Black Widow, who shoots a Widow's Bite. Red Skull does the old thing where he dodges the blow, then realizes she was really aiming above him, as a pile of metal falls on him. Whoops! Hercules struggles to lift the team, whining about his recent power decrease, as Quicksilver does a super-speed check of the debris, but the Red Skull has disappeared!

Avengers 386 Quicksilver Medina
Quicksilver crash-dieted between this issue and last issue.

Crystal again asks Black Widow what they're doing there, and Widow once again dodges the question, tending to the injured Ivan, as Hercules whines some more. Crystal realizes everyone's on edge and tries lighting a fire with her powers, but can only throw a few sparks, blaming the interference that effected the quinjet earlier.

Avengers 386 Quicksilver Red Skull

Hercules goes to get medical supplies from the jet, when he encounters an injured Captain America, who helpfully points out Red Skull's base is just yonder, keep looking that way... oh wait, it's Red Skull in disguise. He zaps Hercules in the back. Hercules is a moron. The team notes that Hercules has been missing, as the Red Skull emerges from the darkness and sucker punches Crystal. Quicksilver moves in at super speed, but Red Skull catches his punch, saying "all things are possible with the master race," before insulting Quicksilver's gypsy heritage. See, that makes sense. He's a nazi, after all.

Avengers 386 Black Widow
I assume this song started playing.

Skull denigrates Black Widow, calling her the weakest Avenger, but Natasha only responds by taking off her jacket, telling Skull his time is over. And this is a Russian with the last name Romanoff telling you. Widow dodges an energy blast, then insults Red Skull's fighting abilities, causing him to throw Widow into a wall and shout "Woman, the Skull has no feelings!" Skull picks up a dazed Widow by the hair and starts to gloat about his suit's cool power systems, but Widow just responds by sending a Widow's Bite directly into his suit, overloading it. Before the fight can continue, Skull gets a message from someone regarding a recent explosion in the Caribbean, and disappears before Widow can heroically blast him in the neck.

Avengers 386
Quicksilver's face says it all.
Back in New York, Widow hands an injured Ivan over to Deathcry and is in the middle of scheduling a de-briefing when she's interrupted. The Avengers gawk at the stranger, who is revealed on the last page: here, let me just give you the image:

Avengers 386 Captain America armor
Looking back, Liefeld-Cap might've been an improvement.


Issue 3 of "Terry Kavanagh writes the Avengers," and I have to say, this ain't half-bad. It's almost entirely devoted to one fight, with a bit of suspense to introduce it, but I like the execution of it okay. Nobody seems hugely out of character, but really the only character bits we get are that Hercules is a trusting dope, which makes perfect sense, and Widow is a scrapper who won't back down, which is something to hang your hat on beyond "good at spying." The downside, I guess, is that this is leading up to a 4 part crossover with Captain America in awful 90's armor, so things may get worse in the near future. But a lot happens, with less focus on mystery doors.

It's bizarre that Medina needs to step in for Deodato after a whopping two straight issues. Deodato's Jim-Lee period is detailed, but he's keeping Jim Lee at Image pace, not Jim Lee at Marvel pace. As for Medina's art, I kinda like it. It's exaggerated and a bit jarring from Deodato's style, but you can see the McFarlane influence on Medina's art already (he would have a lengthy run as the regular artist of Spawn a few years later). While some faces look noticeably "off," Red Skull looks great, although I don't recall Skull ever looking so much like Venom before. I like the facial expressions a lot, too. The biggest downside is that the anatomy gets pretty wonky, especially Black Widow in motion.

All in all, I expected worse. We'll see how Taking A.I.M. turns out, but right now this is at least a decent comic. Clearly it needs more Fantastic Force.


  1. I agree, I actually really like this vintage of Angel Medina. The cartooniness and energy make up for the shortcomings.

    I've said before, and I still maintain -- extreme armored Cap is Mark Gruenwald's commentary on the excesses of 90s comics, and not an approval of them or an attempt to fit in with them. I've never seen anything to back this up, but I feel like it has to be the case.

    By the way -- thanks for linking to my blog! I just noticed.

  2. I've not encountered enough of his work to develop a strong opinion on it, but I can see from experience that Angel Medina is a hell of a nice guy. He attends the local cons at which I volunteer every year, and he's tons of fun to hang out with, always interacts with people, and does a lot to support our organization.

    @Matt: I've said before, and I still maintain -- extreme armored Cap is Mark Gruenwald's commentary on the excesses of 90s comics, and not an approval of them or an attempt to fit in with them.

    I can buy that - AzBats was basically the same thing over at DC (though there, at least, we have the creators involved saying as much in interviews).