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Avengers Academy #18 – Review

By: Christos Gage (writer), Andrea Di Vito (artist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer), John Denning (assistant editor) & Bill Rosemann (editor)

The Story: The Avengers Academy kids are dealing with Fear Itself when the hammer-wielding Titania and Absorbing Man invade the Infinite Mansion.

The Review: This being a bit of a light week of comics for me, it made sense to review a comic that has stayed on my pull-list for awhile, but that I rarely review: Avengers Academy.  For the folks who complain that there “are no new characters in comics today”, this is a series that you should try.  Granted, it is 18 issues in, but (a) the trade paperbacks are readily available and (b) it really wouldn’t be that hard to just jump in with these characters.  After all, they’re new characters: They only have these 18 months of history.  So, it isn’t like wading into Captain America or the X-Men where there are references to stories that were told 30 years ago.  Just try it…

This particular issue ties into Fear Itself and shows the kids struggling with the powered up versions of Titania and Absorbing Man.  Not only do I enjoy the Academy kids and the central concept that the Avengers are training them because these kids are the most “at risk” for becoming future super-villains, but I also really enjoy Titania and Absorbing Man.  Secret Wars was my first comic event and these two baddies featured heavily in that story.  Heck, that’s the origin of Titania.

Like all good comic stories about super-powered teenagers, writer Christos Gage is gradually moving them up the scale of villains they can deal with.  We’ve seen that the Fear Itself guys are no joke, so the kids initially think they are in huge trouble before they start to come up with some very clever solutions to the problem.  A few of these solutions even deal with the kid’s possibly villainous nature.  All in all, it is a pretty solid superhero comic.  The only downside to this story is that this is the second issue of a 3-part Fear Itself tie-in.  Like many superhero comic stories these days, that’s too many issues.  The basic concept of this story arc should be a done-in-one.  Three issues just makes it feel drawn out; even if it is still “good”, I’d rather move on to whatever other stories Gage has to tell instead of seeing 3 issues of a story like this one.

The art is fine.  It tells the story effectively, has its good places and there are no cringe-worthy panels.  I’m not a huge fan of this coloring style where everything is a highlighted on a smooth gradient because it makes the characters look squishy and soft when the linework indicates chiseled muscles.  But, it isn’t a disaster by any stretch.

Conclusion: Another quality entry in what has been a very solid series since the beginning.  If you’re missing “new characters” in your superhero comics, you should check this one out.

Grade: B-

-Dean Stell

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