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For those not keeping score at home: the Avengers have had a few shakeups in the roster lately. After the events of Civil War II, the younger members of the team leave and Tony Stark is in a coma. To bolster the ranks Captain America (Sam Wilson) recruits Hercules and Nadia Pym, the new Wasp.
In this issue a new arc begins, with Nadia at the fore as the team welcomes a new and unexpected member: Doctor Doom. “Welcomes” might be a strong word. Save for the Wasp, all the Avengers are deeply distrustful of Doom given his past as the all time baddest villain they know. Much has changed for Victor since the 2015 Secret Wars event. No longer the scarred megalomaniac we all came to adore, Doom takes up the mantel of Iron Man (also in his own solo series, Infamous Iron Man) to right the many, many wrongs of his past life.
I had yet to experience any of this reformed Doom character till this Avengers issue, and fortunately we’re in the capable hands of some great creators. Written by Mark Waid and Jeremy Whitley, with art by Phil Noto and colorists Mike del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso, Avengers is a well paced team book with stunning art and zippy dialogue.
I once read a review on Mark Waid’s run on Hulk that stated “in Waid we trust.” Truer words never spoken. This Avengers story hits all the right notes: solid character beats for each team member, fun dialogue that doesn’t make every character sound like Spider-Man-Lite (looking at you, Brian Michael Bendis), and a well paced story which naturally integrates Doom as a new addition to their world.
As mentioned earlier, the Wasp is a highlight of this issue. A secret daughter of founding Avenger Hank Pym who was raised in Russia’s Red Room science enclave (like Black Widow, but for science instead of spies), Nadia is the key to Doom’s plan. Mystical disturbances pop up all around New York, and Doom believes he’s found the source: The Susan Storm Camp for Girls’ Leadership.
For fear of upsetting the camp’s staff and hordes of teenagers, Doom enlists Nadia to sneak in and find the source of the mystical weirdness. The other Avengers tag along as backup, and for some of Spider-Man’s trademark comic relief. Upon Doom magically disguising Nadia as a camp attendee:
Spider-Man: The combat boots are a weird touch, Doom. You need a Tim Gunn.
Nadia: I love them!
Which is just one of several great exchanges that Wasp has with the whole team (except for a sadly underused Hercules, but not everyone gets a quip every issue).
Finally, Nadia discovers the source of the mystical phenomena: demon-possessed teenagers (of course!). This sets up the climactic final battle, which showcases the whole Avengers team as they rescue Nadia from some wacky ritual sacrifice.
Noto’s line work is almost impressionistic, but the detail he puts into faces, expressions, and action work perfectly with the soft colors of del Mundo and D’Alfonso. I wouldn’t think muted coloring on a giant goo-monster from another dimension would work, but here we are!
This is a great creative team and it’s my sincere hope they can continue with the Avengers for many issues to come. The dynamics from old school Avengers like Cap and Vision playing in the same sandbox as Doom and his new BFF the Wasp are ripe with possibilities that will be fun to watch unfold. Until then, pick up this issue and more at Downtown Comics!