By Alex Ross, Jim Kreuger, (Plot) Steve Sadowski, (Pencils) and InLight Studios (Color)

Three issues in and I have to admit that I’m starting to feel as though this series is completely unnecessary. The latest issue of Avengers/Invaders firmly establishes where this story fits in the Marvel Universe time line and as a because no other books seem to knowledge its existence it lacks tension. Unless Jim Kreuger and Alex Ross have some large twist planned, there just doesn’t seem to be enough story to support this series for 12 issues. However, with all that said, issue #3 is still an enjoyable read thanks to some fun moments with Namor and nice looking artwork by Steve Sadowski.

There are four main plot elements at work here and, to be honest, it makes this a pretty fast read. The first involves Invaders Namor coming face to face with his future self while visiting what amounts to the ruins of Atlantis. The second storyline thread at work involves the New Avengers’ plan to free Invaders Captain America by using some Dr. Strange magic. The third features the one lone soldier to get caught up in the time travel having a talk with his future self. It’s a touching highlight thanks to some poignant dialogue and complementary artwork. The final thread involves Bucky breaking Invaders Captain America out of his cell on the SHIELD helicarrier. While I have no real complaints about the overall story, it feels like things barely move at all due to the bloated ensemble cast. Each plot thread gets some time, but not much happens in any of them. If things progress like this, maybe the series can sustain 12 issues just by inching forward bit by bit, though I hope that is not what winds up happening.

The writing in this issue is serviceable, but only really shines when the WWII soldier is talking to himself. The characters are written well, but it seems as though the writers enjoy bringing certain characters down a notch. In the first issue, the Thunderbolts were quickly dismantled and then late in this one a key character just comes across as plain stupid. It just lessens things as opposed to heightening, and that irritates me. Also, every line of Spider-Man dialogue is some attempt at wit or humor and while I understand that is a staple of the character, Spidey just comes across as “that guy” dying for some attention. With the exception of the soldiers’ talk, the writing here is average at best.

I honestly think I would be harder on this series if I didn’t enjoy Steve Sadowski’s pencils as much as I do. He does some great work with the characters and scenes in this issue, in particular the stuff involving the two Namors. While a few of the smaller panels feel a bit rushed, I can easily forgive when everything else looks so nice. I do wish the coloring job was a bit better, as it actually has a negative effect on the quality of the pencil work from time to time.

The Avengers/Invaders series is weighed down by the very concept that it hinges on and, as a result, very little comes across as truly memorable. There is some good dialogue from time to time, the artwork is impressive, and it is fun seeing two versions of the same character interact, but as a whole there is nothing here that makes me truly care about what is happening. If you really need a “heroes out of time” fix, you would be better off investing in the excellent series The Twelve. (Grade: C)

– Kyle Posluszny

A Second Opinion

Wow, I actually enjoyed this issue more than the previous two. The nods given to current Marvel continuity are a definite plus. I was actually surprised to see Namor visit Atlantis, given how not too many read last year’s excellent Namor: Revolutions mini-series. But having young Namor beat down old Namor? C’mon now! We also finally get a small connection to Secret Invasion, but despite all these connections to Marvel continuity, this book, like the Invaders themselves, is horribly displaced.

No other Marvel title acknowledges the events taking place in this book and because of that, it feels like a hollow read. Making this series a sprawling 12 issue “epic” is a horrible decision that might have been better served as its own event for 2009. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

As a stand alone issue, I enjoyed what I read, but I do agree with Kyle in that there’s just too many characters and too little happening. This is the same problem that’s plaguing Kreuger and Ross’ Project Superpowers title (but on a much worse degree). Their next project really needs to be scaled down. Enough with the huge casts of characters and just work on telling a story, guys. (Grade: C+)

– J. Montes