Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Avengers #393

Avengers #393, "Dark Days Dawn," Cover Date December 1995
Plot by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Script by Ben Raab, Pencils by Mike Deodato, Jr., Inks by Tom Palmer

Avengers 393 Cover

After months and months of build-up, and two months of nothing much happening, The Crossing finally gets to the fireworks factory! We begin where we left of in this month's Iron Man, with Mantis looking out into the sky. She gets news from Neut, the tiny man who has pummeled the Avengers lately. An ominous spaceship appears, and we finally get our big reveal: it's Kang! Yes, the time-travelling 30th century world conqueror is here, and he's not happy. He says some stuff about the "House of Kang" being vulnerable because of "temporal feedback," and Mantis and Kang have a snippy back and forth about how stupid it was to send Mantis's goons out to collect her ex-husband plant guy. Kang's solution, of course, is to send the same goons out to get their "terran operative." Because that probably won't make things worse.

Avengers 393 Iron Man fight

At the Wasp's still not repo'd mansion, Iron Man blasts the stunned Avengers, but Hawkeye responds quickly, shooting Iron Man's mask out of the air and shouting not to let him put the mask on. Uh, why? Hercules says "just talk to us," while slamming Iron Man through a wall, sending pretty mixed messages. The only person not in costume, Wasp, jumps between the two, and Iron Man fries her, causing Hank Pym to immediately go into hysterics, saying "it can't end... not like this..." and we get narration that says that Tony's the door to Tony's troubled soul, "fractured psyche" is sealed, making him permanently crazy. Enjoy next month's issue of Iron Man, true believers! Tony, his mouth full of saliva, still manages a strained "What have I become?"

Avengers 393 Kang Mantis
Mantis foreplay: karate chops to the throat.

A crazy Hank Pym smashes through his ex-wife's house while shouting "STARK!" then begins choking the life out of Tony. Voice of reason Hercules points out that if this was Tony's plan, it was clearly pretty stupid, and maybe things aren't what they seem. Hank drops the dazed Iron Man, but Mystery-Woman-Who-Is-Definitely-Not-Luna appears and zaps him away, presumably into Kang's dimension. It takes place in one panel, so it's hard to make sense of where Not-Luna and company came from or where they're going. Hank responds to Crystal saying Janet "might not make it" by picking up her body and rushing to a nearby lab, instead of like, a hospital? With that guy on your team that has super speed? I'm just saying, that's what I'd do. Instead, Quicksilver holds a crying Luna, and says that this is no place for her to be right now. Well, if your last babysitter hadn't been murdered, maybe you'd have more success finding a new one?

Avengers 393 Iron Man Hercules
"Why won't you talk to me?" :PUNCH:

Hawkeye interrupts the parent meeting to point out that Luna is a potential target, as he posits that she's the key to solving this mystery. But, uh, they already figured out Iron Man is the killer? What else does she know? Suddenly, Tuc reappears, and says Luna needs to go with him to stay safe. Her parents are understandably not cool with that idea. He jedi mind tricks them into collapsing, then says "sorry sister," before picking up Luna and running off.

Avengers 393 Hank Pym destroys mansion
Wasp is already broke and dying, why do you have to destroy her house, too?

Back in Hank's lab, he decides that the best thing to do is repeat the procedure that gave Wasp her powers. Uh, why? Vision basically asks the same question, but Hank doesn't answer, instead he just goes ahead with the procedure which... creates a cocoon around Janet. The team hears a noise outside and runs out to find a dazed Quicksilver and Crystal, sans Luna, and a moment later, a plane crashes on the grounds. Out of the wreckage, Masque appears, saying they have to take down Tony Stark, and fast! To be continued!

Avengers 393 Wasp cocoon
The Vision: world's greatest detective.

You've Got Mail: This issue has feedback from the Crossing, much of it positive, although one fan is excited for Yellowjacket II, and hopes that she wasn't really killed. Whoops! Feedback is positive for Scarlet Witch and Black Widow's re-design, but more mixed for Hawkeye's 90's outfit and Thor's gimp look.

Review: Stuff finally happens! After months of pointless point A to point B travels and fights with temporal goons, we finally get plot-related fights! Iron Man is revealed as the killer at the end of Iron Man, and fights the team. Unfortunately, like every other fight, it ends with Iron Man being plucked away by temporal goons! Hank Pym comes down with a serious case of plot development-stupidity, as his decision to make Janet the Wasp again is clearly an attempt to give her a power upgrade and new look, but it makes no sense. After months of nothing happening, this issue has problems with too much happening, as Wasp's injuries aren't given much focus, since we get a few pages in Kang's time palace, Luna being abducted, and then Masque showing up. And is this Bethany Kabe, or somebody else dressed as Masque? Everything seems to be in a colossal hurry: witness Not-Luna and her cousins showing up and disappearing in the space of one panel. When Tuc kidnaps Luna for her own safety, Hawkeye seems to disappear without any explanation, so that the parents are left alone. It's just a sloppy issue all around: we also get Black Widow being at Wasp's mansion in the opening page, complete with caption, then everyone remembers she wasn't on the jet in last week's Iron Man, so presumably she's still stuck in the southwest with U.S. Agent and War Machine- in fact, we'll find out that she's on the phone with Hawkeye where she's brought up to speed, so her page one appearance is a pretty silly goof: just erase her from the scene and nothing changes.

We also get new mysteries that won't get a pay-off: namely, who is Kang fighting, and why is his empire crumbling? What does any of that have to do with what's going on in Avengers? His relationship to his new wife seems pretty strained, but considering we've never seen the pair together before, I guess we can assume the honeymoon was short-lived. I guess Kang is done pining for Ravonna, his long-time love interest, after she helped Immortus way back in Avengers #269, 10 years earlier. Good for him, I guess.

It's nice to see Deodato's art after his month off in Avengers 392. This time, he goes for a lot of horizontal layouts, which look cool, but I think add to the general "what's going on?" aspect of this issue, since wide panels and double-page spreads reduce the panel count, and there's less time to figure out what's actually going on, scene to scene.

All in all, this is probably a step in the right direction, as I'd rather be confused then bored. Just think, if the past two months worth of stories weren't so busy with nothing happening, they'd have a bit more time to dedicate to all the stuff going on here!

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