Writer: Jed Mackay
Artist: Ivan Fiorelli
Color Artist: Federico Blee
Cover Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
While the Earth has been under attack from the alien Ashen Combine, the Avengers are not done yet. Thor rises against Idol Alabaster, Scarlet Witch pushes through her inner demons unleashed by The Dead, Iron Man gets up close and personal with Citysmith, Vision faces Meridian Diadem, Captain Marvel keeps up the attack against Lord Ennui, while Cap and Black Panther talk it out withe Impossible City. Read Avengers #6 to see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes make their come back against their foes.
Okay, this is it, the Avengers’ got their second wind and use it to defeat the Ashen Combine. There’s a lot to be said about why this issue works in spite of so much working against it as far as previous Marvel Comics stories for the past decade if not just earlier this year and last year. And while there are still some criticisms for this comic, the creative team still manage to pull it off and deliver a fun comic book story nonetheless.
The comic directly picks up with the Impossible City confused about the Avengers all saying “No.” and is shown the Avengers taking down all of the members of the Ashen Combine. We get epic pages of Thor showing his mastery of Thunder, Scarlet Witch putting her OP magic skills and cunning to good use. Iron Man uses some experimental tech inspired by another Avengers to get out of a literal jam, while Carol just goes full OP to fight in a different way, and Vision employs a little holdover from a very familiar Marvel supervillain.
Overall, Ivan Fioerelli and Federico Blee knock it out of the park when it comes to illustrating each of the Avengers defeating the members of the Ashen Combine as the takedowns are done in epic fashion. What’s good about these takedowns is that Jed Mackay has the Avengers use tactics that make sense in relation to the opponents they’re facing and apply the skills, powers, and tech they have on hand to beat them. Most of it makes sense, it’s all rooted in the characters’ actual arsenals and they don’t stretch the credulity of whether they would really work in context to the opponents they’re facing.
Speaking of their opponents, let’s talk about the Ashen Combine and the inherent challenges this series will face going forward. Since the last Avengers series and many other Marvel Comics titles have been going all in with one cataclysmic Multiverse story after another, especially Jason Aaron’s Avengers run, such a storyline can lose stakes. It also doesn’t help that the last story arc of Aaron’s Avengers run dealt with a massive Multiverse crisis and now we’re getting another one in this series with the Tribulation Events and the nebulous “Missing Time” as the big mystery. Plus, the villains in such stories tend to be one-note omnicidal maniacs trying to destroy everything for one reason or another instead of doing anything more creative than that, like the Ashen Combine. Because of this, the series raised the stakes to the highest level before it really got started, and since its the world, the galaxy, and the Multiverse all at stake, there’s not even the illusion of danger to the Avengers at all by the very nature of this story taking place in an ongoing shared universe.
However, despite this problem, this run still has a chance because of one thing: execution. It all comes down to how the creative team executes their story across the upcoming issues. That’s what makes me more intrigued for this Avengers run and its Multiverse crisis story unlike Jason Aaron’s run which devolved into a cosmic showcase of all his crazy ideas for alternate versions of the Avengers and other Marvel characters. Whereas Jed Mackay focuses on highlighting the Avengers and other characters first and foremost, making sure they’re written well, that they’re the actual stars of this series, and that they get to be cool superheroes in their own title. Plus, there’s the general synergy between Mackay’s writing and Ivan Fiorelli’s art that just flow in tandem with each other instead of against each other as seen with this issue.
Avengers #6 concludes the battle between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Ashen Combine. Each of the Avengers are given their moment to shine as they each take down their respective opponents in competent and cool ways only they can do. The characters are well written, their tactics makes sense, and the art makes them all look great. While the Ashen Combine were not memorable villains, they provided enough of a warm-up for the Avengers to face before the real challenges arrive in future issues.