Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Ed McGuinness, Aaron Kuder, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Javier Garron, David Baldeón.
Color Artists: Alex Sinclair, David Curiel, Matt Hollingsworth, Rachelle Rosenberg, Israel Silva, Frank D’Armata.
Cover Artists: Ed McGuinness & Laura Martin.
Variant Cover Artists: Carmen Carnero & Matthew Wilson; Ed McGuinness & Laura Martin; Jack Kirby & Morry Hollowell; Marcos Martin; Rob Liefeld; Ron Lim; Simnoe Bianchi; Stefano Casell & Federico Blee; Steve McNiven & Matthew Wilson.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Avengers were attacked by the Russian super team the Winter Guard, and She-Hulk was taken. She was turned into a weapon to destroy Atlantis and pin the blame on her and the Avengers, but the heroes turned things around. But a greater evil has been plotting underneath their notice and beyond their reach. As shown in Avengers #50, heroes exist everywhere and so do villains.
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Word of warning: this review will be long and full of spoilers.
There’s no holding back in this review since it will be incredibly hard to talk about anything that happens without spoiling something. Much of this comic is about wrapping up not only World War She-Hulk but other plot-threads that Jason Aaron introduced in the series. Things in this comic get weird, over-the-top, and are either weird and interesting or terrible and uninspired. So, this is your final spoiler warning for the review. The comic is separated into several chapters, so let’s get to it.
First off, Jason Aaron starts the story with an opening battle between a time-traveling Ka-Zar and Kid Thanos. I said this comic gets weird and over the top. Disregarding the terrible mis-characterization of Thanos at this age, the battle is another excuse for Aaron to bring in the Avengers B.C. team he created to fight Kid Thanos off-panel. Ka-Zar is a main focus in the comic as he was sent on a mission by Black Panther to travel through time and he sees how far back the Avengers’ legacy history really goes. Don’t let that description fool you, you don’t really get this cool story about Ka-Zar meeting Avengers-like teams all across time, it’s just the Avengers B.C. and we get a splash page of Aaron’s other ideas and that’s it.
From there the comic shifts back to the underwhelming “World War She-Hulk” storyline with an unsatisfying conclusion. The only sole caveat is that he changes Jennifer Walters back into her original She-Hulk form. The thing is this part of the comic feels like Aaron is trying to absolve not only She-Hulk of any supposed wrongdoing, but himself of how he’s written the character in this series. Unfortunately, Aaron contributed his own bit of venom by insulting fans and critics of Marvel’s mishandling of She-Hulk, so this feels like a last-minute effort on his part to make up for that.
He also brings some closure to other characters like Gorilla Man, Ursa Major, the Red Widow, the Squadron Supreme, and Namor. These portions of the comic are by far the weakest. Case in point, Namor is getting a redemption arc, but Aaron didn’t put in the work to properly set this up as a convincing change after everything he’s done with the Sub-Mariner. Aaron puts focus on Robbie Reyes aka Ghost Rider and several other characters, including Namor and Jane Foster aka Valkyrie, as he sets up a big new series involving the Marvel Multiverse called Avengers Forever.
Afterward it shifts back to the Avengers B.C. who defeated Kid Thanos off-panel and send him back to his era, but this finally leads to something interesting. A meeting between Mephisto and a time-traveling Dr. Doom, possibly from another universe. From there, it cuts to the real heart of this comic’s story – the formation of the new Multiversal Masters of Evil! The writing, pacing, and dialogue are mostly at their best in this comic book when it’s about them. It’s also where Ka-Zar’s story is used to explore, or rather explain, another character Aaron introduced in the series. The new Iron Inquisitor, aka Howard Stark from another universe who made a deal with Mephisto and is now his enforcer. However, the comic has a weird yet cool ending for Ka-Zar that will surely tie into either the next few issues or the Avengers Forever series.
The comic cuts back to Doom meeting again with Mephisto after forming the new Masters of Evil off-panel. From there, the comic focuses on getting this storyline started as soon as possible, and that goes double for getting the Avengers Forever story off the ground and setting up the next Avengers issue as well. This makes the comic feel crowded at times. It’s at this point where we continue to get more of Aaron’s crazier ideas, as the art switches to Aaron Kuder and we get the full lineup of the Multiversal Masters of Evil.
There’s Black Skull (Red Skull with the Venom symbiote), Ghost Goblin (Green Goblin as a green-flamed Ghost Rider with Ghost Rider skulls as bombs), Dark Phoenix (uninspired name) who controls the Phoenix Force and a berserker Wolverine with shards in his eyes. There’s also King Killmonger who we know the least about, and he looks like a crimson version of the Asgardian Destroyer armor. Then of course there’s Kid Thanos (fresh from killing his mother) and Dr. Doom leading them, or rather Doom Supreme, the sorcerer supreme of his world and the Doom Above All. We get to see them in action here and there as they’re set up to take on the Avengers in the next issue.
Oddly enough, for a comic book that’s supposed to celebrate the Avengers, the Avengers are the least interesting part of this comic. They’re barely there and do next to nothing except talk to recap events and set up the next big storyline. If anything, this book is really about celebrating the concept of the Avengers rather than the characters themselves and their actual comic book history.
Another problem this comic highlights is that Aaron is an idea guy with too many ideas he can’t execute that well, so other Marvel writers have to pick up the slack and write them better. Ideas like making Namor a villain again, the new Winter Guard, Dracula ruling a vampire nation, etc. These ideas and more get better coverage in other titles like Chip Zdarsky’s Invaders, Benjamin Percy’s Wolverine, and recently Ryan Cady’s Winter Guard miniseries, while Aaron wastes the characters in his own series.
Reading those series and then coming back to this one, the writing is day and night. For example, Ryan Cady’s miniseries wraps up today and he makes the Winter Guard compelling, 3-dimensional characters while Aaron writes them as caricatures to prop up his Avengers team. Look no further than how he portrays Perun and Chernobog. Both characters get solid character development in Cady’s Winter Guard series, but Aaron describes them as atrocious “war criminals” in past issues (mind you, he never shows them doing anything, he just tells you they are) who get effortlessly beaten by Thor and are now imprisoned in a Wakandan prison hospital.
Avengers #50, or Avengers #750, is more about celebrating the Avengers as a concept than the characters. It wraps up the World War She-Hulk storyline and brings some closure to several other characters in the series. However, the big story is the formation of the new Multiversal Masters of Evil, which has some promise as the comic sets up the next big storylines. The Thor backup story is well-written with excellent art and is an enjoyable comic book short story from Christopher Ruocchio and Steve McNiven.