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A Piece of History I’d Like to Forget

January 5, 2010

     The Unspoken has decided to unleash the power of the Slave Engine, the vaguely defined doomsday device of the Inhumans, on the human race, and the Mighty Avengers are the only ones who can stop him.  However, most of the team doesn’t even know what’s going on in China, and a few of them are fighting Loki disguised as the Scarlet Witch.  Ronin and Wiccan manage to disrupt Loki’s concentration and start to reveal her true form, but she teleports away before they finish in a fury.  Wasp goes on a trip to visit Eternity, and the Unspoken uses the Xerogen crystals to mutate more of the good guys into drooling monsters.  When Loki leaves, Stature can finally tell them what’s going on in China, and Ronin helps them gather a team of Avengers to deal with the threat.  Eternity informs Hank Pym that he is this dimension’s Scientist Supreme and that he must treat himself with respect if he expects other people to do so.  The allied Avengers team arrives in China, but one by one, they are mutated by the Xerogen mists.  Amadeus Cho and Hercules enter the Slave Engine, and Hank Pym arrives to fight the Unspoken one-on-one (that’s a tad unrealistic there).  Vision and Stature help Cho aim a chronal ray inside the engine that’s aging the Xerogen crystals on the Unspoken, making him an old man in a matter of seconds.  Ronin tells Pym that he could use the ray to revert himself to a younger age and give himself a clean slate, but Pym says he doesn’t want to lose all the experience he’s gained from all his mistakes.  The Mighty Avengers go to Attilan to return the Xerogen crystals to the Inhumans, but Quicksilver’s daughter Luna reveals to him that she knows he’s lying about having been replaced by a Skrull, and that she will never forgive him.  While the Avengers help clean up the world in the days after, Norman Osborn gets more and more furious about everyone accepting them as the real Avengers.  Loki uses his hold over the Absorbing Man to cause a conflict to which the Dark Avengers will respond, and as the Scarlet Witch, he gets the Mighty Avengers to come as well.  Even though they all know that he isn’t the Scarlet Witch, it is a threat they need to deal with, and Pym wants to use this opportunity to discover his true identity.

     I think that the Unspoken arc proved that Dan Slott, at least with this team, is much better at the character work, at building his team, than he is at coming up with big threats for them to deal with.  The Unspoken was a ridiculous retcon that screws with the Inhumans’ history in more ways than one, and even though a ton of Avengers come to help deal with him, he never really seems like that much of a threat.  Plus, the chronal ray thing in the Slave Engine was definitely a deus ex machina.  Not the smartest writing there.  However, the whole Quicksilver arc with Luna knowing the truth about him and his regret is superb.  Same with his work with Hank Pym, bringing Pym out of the hole that he’s been digging himself since he first made Ultron.  These are the two characters Slott is really doing wonders with in this book.  Jocasta is really just being used as a replacement for the real Wasp, which is rather dissatisfying, since Janet van Dyne is a more interesting character than Jocasta or even her husband.  And Stature just comes off as annoying.  The rest of the characters seem just be in the background.  So even though this is the “classic” Avengers book, it’s possibly the worst of the four.  Khoi Pham’s work gets better every issue, but the fact that he disappeared for two of them is rather sad.  He wasn’t doing anything else, to my knowledge, so I don’t know what’s up with that.  Sean Chen’s work was a suitable replacement, fortunately, so it wasn’t that big a deal.  But I hate it when a title switches artists in the middle of a big arc.  So this is essentially a book with a couple of well-used characters and a bunch of people there for no concrete reason.  I think Dan Slott should stick with Avengers: The Initiative or a book with a smaller scope, since he seems to be not so good at Marvel’s premiere team.

Plot: 5.2      Art: 8.8      Dialogue: 8.5      Overall: 5.7

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