The entire "Heroic Age" relaunch of the Avengers line has been strong. There's an energy to it, a dynamic approach to the superhero genre that was largely missing from the Marvel mainstream for the past five years, as the heroes have wallowed in Civil Wars and Dark Reigns. While many stories during those dark times were full of goodness, this new bright and shiny and unafraid-of-superhero-splendor age that has erupted, well, it's been a long time coming.
And yet here's "Avengers Academy," part of the "Heroic Age" (it says so on the cover!), full of vibrant artwork by a guy at the top of the superhero game -- Mike McKone -- but the comic is dark and twisted and full of danger.
It's like one of those cute little plastic dolls that tries to kill you in your sleep.
And that makes it another excellent new series from Marvel.
I would have said all that about issue #1, had I written about it. But I'm here to talk about the second issue, and, surprise, surprise, it's just as good as the first one.
While the first issue established the team of young heroes, provided a bit of setting and context, and established a bold twist at the end (the team is under the Avengers banner not because they are the best and brightest of the young crop, but because they are the ones with the most potential for evil, and the big boys want to keep an eye on them, even if the team isn't supposed to know all that), the second issue delves more deeply into the character of Finesse. Finesse, the super-athlete, the super-genius, cuts through the heart of the nonsense surrounding this team like a scalpel. She stands up to Hank Pym, and demands to know if she's the daughter of the Taskmaster. She confronts Quicksilver and calls him on his inconsistent behavior over the past few years.
She's good, and she's a great foil through which to explore this team of young would-be heroes, and by the end of this issue, she has set things in motion that make this series even more interesting than it seemed after the first issue.
In short, it's very good, and it's the best thing Christos Gage has written since the early issues of "Stormwatch P.H.D."
"Avengers Academy" may have replaced "Avengers: The Initiative" on the publishing schedule, but it's a better comic, with a stronger cast of characters from the beginning and the incisive dialogue of Christos Gage matched with the chiseled artwork of Mike McKone. This is one of the good ones, in a season when Marvel has had more than its share.