Far too often, comics as a medium are dismissed out of hand. It’s a ridiculous perspective, but one uninitiated individuals might possess because of their expectations for comics: outlandish stories, archetypal characters, and ridiculous situations. Naturally, there are plenty of comics that delve into intricate emotional issues, or present complicated and textured characters, tackling meaningful historical events and winning Pulitzer Prizes. Then, there are comics about giant monsters fighting giant robots. New Avengers #9 falls unapologetically into the latter category, and thank Godzilla for that, because it’s one hell of a lot of fun. Spoilers begin after the jump.
The issue opens with the origin of the American Kaiju, a giant bioweapon designed by the United States military that’s exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. He’s created when Corporal Todd Ziller, a solider so clichéd he’s the source of an insipid patriotic email forward, is exposed to a cocktail of every transformation trigger in the Marvel universe from mutant growth hormone to Pym particles. The entire sequence is very tongue in cheek, and it serves the story well.
From there, the narrative returns to A.I.M. Island, where Rick Jones discusses how disorienting it is to have S.H.I.E.L.D. as the antagonists while A.I.M. are the heroes. The conversation between the rescued Whisperer, Da Costa, and Power Man is exceptionally well handled, developing each character and providing a plethora of snappy lines for all of them.
When an alarm alerts the team to the approaching bioweapon, Da Costa considers which team members will help operate Avengers Five, and makes a passing reference to Doctor Ho’s father. She objects to being considered qualified merely because of her lineage, and calls him out on it. It’s a nice moment that highlights the series’ emphasis on progressive thinking.
From there, the story really kicks into high gear. Some really excellent art brings American Kaiju to life as he rises from the ocean and advances on A.I.M. Island, chanting, “Yuuuuuu… Esssss… Aayyyy…!” It’s entirely absurd, and gleefully so. Another soldier asks if releasing the monster is really the best way to extract Rick Jones, and General Maverick replies, “They’re the one’s who think unauthorized super-science is fun. Well, guess what? They’re right!” He’s absolutely correct.
The bulk of the Pacific Rim-style throw down between American Kaiju and Avengers Five will have to wait for the next issue, but there’s plenty to fill the pages here. The book takes an opportunity to flesh out Songbird’s betrayal of the team while giving Hawkeye a chance to look cool and crack off a few solid lines. In fact, each of the New Avengers team members (or at least the ones that aren’t currently expelled) get at least a moment to shine in this issue, and considering that means sharing the spotlight with a giant lizard covered in the stars and stripes, demonstrating deft storytelling on the part of the creators. A shout out is also due to the rad narrative captions, which effectively offer exposition while also offering a laugh.
Overall, this tie-in is a hell of a lot of fun, even for a relative uninitiated reader such as myself. It’s worth the price of admission solely for the two-page splash of the American Kaiju rising from the ocean to attack A.I.M. Island, and there’s plenty more to enjoy besides. New Avengers is making a very compelling argument for being added to my regular pull list even after the Avengers Standoff event has ended.
Creators: Al Ewing, Marcus To, Leinil Francis Yu
Up Next: Avengers Standoff continues next week with the release of Illuminati #6, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4, and All New, All Different Avengers #8.