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Avengers: The Enemy Within #1 – Review

AVENGERS: THE ENEMY WITHIN #1

By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Scott Hepburn (art), Jordie Bellaire (colors)

The Story: It’s a pretty sweet life when you can call upon a god for lizard control.

The Review: I always find it rather irritating when instead of continuing a storyline in its own title, from which it originated and where it rightfully belongs, it carries over into a different title or into a new series altogether.  Seems like a mean way to force a reader to fork over some extra money to buy into books he wouldn’t ordinarily ever consider getting.  It’s only ever worth it if the story is truly big and critical enough to require extra page-time elsewhere.

At this point, it doesn’t seem like DeConnick’s story of Captain Marvel’s latest crisis fits that bill.  This issue doesn’t have any significant difference from a typical issue of Captain Marvel, either in tone, substance, or structure.  It simply follows from the events of Captain Marvel #12 and does little to expand the scope of the plot any further.  In fact, there’s no reason for Marvel to split this story into a mini besides taking advantage of the Avengers brand to boost sales and attention to an ever-weakening property (Captain Marvel ranked #120 in March, compared to #42 when it first debuted in July 2012).

If that’s the case, then DeConnick needs to make more use of the Avengers, at least more than the fun cameos they’ve already been making ever since Carol’s been affected by her brain lesion.  At least in those instances, there was a point to their appearances: Iron Man lending her an assistant, Captain America his hover-cycle.  Here, Thor arrives to do nothing that Carol couldn’t have handled herself—literally, since these twin dinosaurs are the exact same ones she handily dismissed (with Spider-Woman’s assistance, admittedly) in Captain Marvel #9.

Frankly, DeConnick could probably carry out this storyline with just Spider-Woman as back-up, and never have to involve the full Avengers cavalry at all.  At least Jessica Drew offers highly entertaining banter.  I daresay that DeConnick might enjoy writing Jess more than Carol, as she gives Jess all the choicest lines of the issue and makes her seem sensible and centered where Carol seems irritable and snappish (not without good reason, of course).  My favorite line of Jess’ is after Carol, concerned about whether she’s experiencing hallucinations, tries to make sure her friend is real and Jess tells her, “I am so real, you don’t even know.  Spider-Woman: keeping it real since—”*

Another reason why this mini feels like a pointless separation from Captain Marvel is because you only get the most value from it had you been following the story from its beginning in Captain Marvel in the first place.  For example, this issue finally offers a sensible explanation for the random enemies Carol’s run into as of late: the dinosaurs, Deathbird, and here, “The Grapplers?!  Lady wrestlers turned super-villains.”  Put this together with the revelation of Yon-Rogg as the evil mastermind of this whole scheme and his theft of a piece of the Psyche-Magnitron, a “wishing machine” as Carol calls it, and now you have a proper Captain Marvel problem that only hints at the necessity of the Avengers.

Hepburn goes a little too heavy on the inks at times, but otherwise he handles the random elements of DeConnick’s script very well, from hissing cats to rampaging dinosaurs to hammer-swinging gods and more.  His slightly cartoony style doesn’t quite convey the feeling of an Avengers epic, but it works very well for a Captain Marvel adventure, especially with Bellaire on hand to maintain the earthy, rich colors we’ve always had on Captain Marvel.

Conclusion: Loses points for being such an obvious money-grabber, but otherwise a solid chapter in Captain Marvel’s greatest challenge since she took her new name.

Grade: B-

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * I also really enjoy Spider-Woman’s reaction to Carol feeling up her face: “This thing?  This thing you’re doing with my face?  It’s weird and I want it to stop.”

- I would really appreciate it if there was some artistic consensus as to how Captain Marvel’s supposed to look in uniform.  It’s starting to bug me out that every time we have a change in artist, her hair style changes, too.  Emma Rios went for a sensible, pulled-back look; Filipe Andrade let it flow shampoo-model loose; and Hepburn piles it on as high as it can possibly go.  And isn’t she supposed to have a face mask?

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