Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: C.F. Villa
Color Artist: Federico Blee
Cover Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Avengers are back, but danger is not far behind. Immediately after reforming the team, a mortally wounded Kang The Conqueror arrives to the present to warn the heroes of new impending threats – Myrddin and his Twilight Court, and the threat of the Tribulation Events. The first of the Tribulation Events has begun with the arrival of the deadly alien Ashen Combine. Read Avengers #4 as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes square off against the members of this new threat.
First off, I’m not the usual reviewer for this series, but I did catch up on the prior issues and even the setup for this in the Timeless one-shot starring Kang The Conqueror where he first encountered and fought Myrddin and his Twilight Court. From there, we can see that Jed MacKay is going full-throttle with this storyline and the main appeal as he introduces new foes for the Avengers to face off against. Fair warning, this review will have some SPOILERS here and there but nothing too big.
The previous issue set up and revealed the different members of the Ashen Combine and has the Avengers split up into specific locations to deal with the new villains. Here, we see Thor face Idol Alabaster, Scarlet Witch go up against The Dead (yes, that is his name), and Iron Man fight The Citysmith, while Sam Wilson Captain America pairs up with T’Challa the Black Panther to infiltrate the Ashen Combine’s spaceship HQ, the Impossible City (yes, that is its name), which is the narrator for the past issue and this one too.
All right, I’ll go over the positives then the negatives in this issue. Firstly, the art is great! C.F Villa’s art really brings out the dynamism needed for an action-oriented series that also looks the part for a flagship Avengers title, which is helped by Federico Blee’s colors. The characters, the paneling, the locations and backgrounds, they all look great and do a lot of the heavy lifting. Jed MacKay does a solid job with the dialogue here, all of the characters have distinct voices and personalities, both the Avengers and the new villains. MacKay balances out the pacing of the three main battles and the infiltration team. This way no single battle feels like it’s taking up the entire book as each gets fair coverage as everyone gets their moments. MacKay even brings up Scarlet Witch being the “Living Darkhold” – as established in the short Darkhold mini event from 2022 – and shows the consequences of sealing the Darkhold and its maker the evil god Cthon into her soul (which was never a good idea and was inevitably going to blow up in her face) in her fight against The Dead.
Now, the negatives, which there aren’t too many of for this issue. Notably, how quickly the Avengers almost get taken down and how formulaic it all feels. I said before that each battle gets their own fair coverage, but it all feels too predictable as they follow the same flow or rhythm, which is each hero feels they automatically have the upper hand only for the new villain to beat them anyway and are all put into a bind by the end. All of which is obvious setup for them to get their second wind in the next issue or two and turn the tables.
Now, that doesn’t mean this book is terrible or even bad, it just makes it a little too predictable. Even more so after we just went through a Multiverse story spanning all space and time in Jason Aaron’s Avengers run, where we had the big new threat of the Multiversal Masters of Evil and the same rhythm happened there too, only with worse execution to be honest. But I have more confidence in Jed MacKay to deliver with these villains in this story arc.
Avengers #4 starts the battle between the Avengers and the new threat – the Ashen Combine. We see half the team go up against some members of the new villains, while Cap and Black Panther infiltrate the villains’ HQ in orbit. The art really brings this comic to life and infuses it with a strong dynamic energy and is enhanced by the colors as well. The writing is solid as all the characters have distinct voices and their battles are evenly paced and handled well, so no one fight takes up the entire book.