Friday, December 17, 2010

Avengers Academy #7

Christos Gage is one of the most consistent writers in the business; I'm practically guaranteed to love his blend of plot, history, and characterization. He gets Hank Pym better than anyone else at Marvel, even Dan Slott, which is saying something!

This issue's claim to fame is Hank Pym's return to one of his best identities: Giant-Man. Ol Highpockets hasn't been around for awhile, if I remember correctly, he's been in another identity since early in Kurt Busiek's run on the book years ago. It seems Pym is not only close to bringing back the real Wasp (his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne); he's also tired of everyone ragging on him for using a girl's name (although it is a gender-neutral term, as he points out). This issue spends most of its time with my favorite two teachers at the Academy, Pym and Tigra. They've got some weird history between them, what with Tigra having a kid with an alien doppelganger of Pym a few months ago. There doesn't seem to be any chemistry between the two of them now, only awkwardness. Gage throws out lots of callbacks to old stories, including Tigra's time as a feral beast and Pym's awesome identity of Dr. Pym.

There's new action to compliment all those flashbacks and Easter eggs, the Academy does its best to transport the Absorbing Man, a classic baddy, but of course he busts loose. That leads to a nice little throw down between Giant-Man and Absorbing Man, while AM is using a combination of powers from the entire Academy class. Giant-Man wins the fight in an amusing way when he forces the Absorbing Man to grow to gigantic proportions. The two characters pop up surrounded by Marvel's cosmic entities like Eternity and Eon, and I have to wonder what those bigwigs were talking about. I wonder if they are annoyed when Pym periodically appears?
There are some nice clues about an eventual return for the Wasp, and I keep hoping (as do my daughters, Jan is one of their faves thanks to the Avengers cartoon). I'm not sure what Veil is up to in that last panel either...

Tom Raney does a fantastic job keeping his art in line with the feel established by Mike McKone since the series began. They are both solid artists, but I'm shocked their two styles can look so seamless. I'd love to see Raney try the yellow and gold Giant-Man costume sometime too.


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