Writer: David Pepose
Art: Carlos Magno
Colors: Espen Grundetjern
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Jim Campbell
Variant Cover: Geoff Shaw & Antonio Fabela
Publiser: Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 22nd, 2023
The end is here. SAVAGE AVENGERS delivered nine issues that mixed bombastic action and honest human emotion. This series’ unlikely group of heroes has run through a seemingly endless parade of emotional highs and lows in their bid to save each other and all of humanity. And now the ride comes to an end as Pepose, Magno, Grundetjern, and Lanham deliver SAVAGE AVENGERS #10 and the conclusion of their story.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Savage Avengers #10 Review.
Recapping SAVAGE AVENGERS #10 in any meaningful way is impossible without spoiling story and character beats best experienced by reading the issue. Most of the book features the last ditch struggle between the Savage Avengers and Ultron for the fate of humanity across time. Along the way Pepose gives each character their due with moments that resolve any lingering threads for their arcs. Cloak and Dagger get a wonderful resolution. Flash and Weapon H have a surprising bonding moment. Black Knight comes up big. Pepose even manages to revisit Punisher 2099 here despite the character’s death in the previous issue. And we even find out just who has been doing all the narrating. The real meat of the character examination belongs to Miles, though. His fate is inextricably linked to Ultron, and the two clash a final time on the way to the story’s decisive end.
SAVAGE AVENGERS’ greatest strength all along has been its ability to constantly intertwine character arcs and plot. That might be lost if you’ve only casually flipped through an issue because there is never a shortage of action. But Pepose has picked his moments along the way. He’s known just when to advance character arcs and by exactly how much. The result is that in SAVAGE AVENGERS #10 each character still has enough of a dangling thread left to resolve that the issue resonates on a more emotional level than a cover-to-cover fight can achieve on its own. At the same time, there isn’t so much to wrap up that it feels rushed or insufficient. It strikes the perfect balance.
As to the plot, the fight between the Savage Avengers and Ultron is no less grand than it has been to this point. There are Deathloks galore. A few additional 2099 characters make incredibly brief cameos. The fight even extends to cyberspace. But at no point does it ever feel like the Savage Avengers have a chance. And if you’ve been reading the series to this point, you know that they don’t. It’s a great last gasp, but it won’t work. Or will it?
This is where Miles comes in. Ultron will win or lose based on actions Miles takes. In realizing such a plot turn, the series in a way reframes itself as Miles’s story. There’s no real way to sum it up further except to say that Pepose has built Miles’s arc bit by bit so that in the end this expansive future war might come down to whether a cyborg who was once Spider-Man can be true to himself again.
The Art & Letters
Magno and Grundetjern have turned in issue after issue filled with truly dynamic artwork. As I’ve said repeatedly, this series is largely cover-to-cover action–even more so since the 2099 arc began. That runs the risk of getting repetitive. But in SAVAGE AVENGERS it never has. And it doesn’t here. Magno is exceedingly strong when it comes to sequential storytelling. Fights that last the majority of a comic can sometimes devolve into difficult to interpret scrums. Or they might be a series of pinups and beauty shots. The fight in SAVAGE AVENGERS #10, as in all the issues before, tells a story. Cut out all the dialogue and all the narration, and the fight will still be easy to follow.
Grundetjern’s eye for contrast is impressive. As Magno makes these elaborate action sequences easy to understand on the macro scale, Grundetjern knows just where the eye needs to be drawn in each panel to best communicate what is happening. In large part this is done simply with background coloring. The backgrounds throughout the fight are very sparse, but so much is going on in panel there’s never a sense that something is missing. As a result, Grundetjern has a somewhat free hand. Want to emphasize Cloak and Dagger? Put them up against faded purple or gray. Need to highlight Ultron Prime among a bunch of other Ultrons? Make the energy around him red. And so forth. It’s communicative and engaging.
Lanham probably has the most thankless job here as letterer, and yet his contribution can’t be discounted. I continue to point out that these have been highly action centric comics, and SAVAGE AVENGERS #10 is no different. But there is also a great deal of narration. Yet somehow Lanham manages to keep the narration boxes from ever being obtrusive. Given how busy most of these panels are, this is no mean feat.
SAVAGE AVENGERS #10 is emblematic of what has made this series stand out. The creative team’s efforts are so cohesive that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else doing the work. It has again found new ways to excite, surprise, and engage the reader. And what is most special to me–I have gone on a journey with a group of characters, shared their highs and lows, and seen their stories successfully resolved so that now, at the end, I’m very happy to have spent my time with them. And I hope to see them again.