After a very strong first arc, the relaunched “Avengers” has struggled through its second story where the Hood goes about collecting the Infinity Gems and the Illuminati was revealed to the Avengers. The finale isn’t good enough to redeem the whole story, but it is a solid effort that ends thing in a logical and satisfying manner.
The opening scene is the weakest part of the comic, with a portrayal of Thanos that will have readers wondering if Brian Michael Bendis’s interpretation of the character is truly poor or if it’s meant to be a comment on how the character impersonating the Mad Titan views him. It’s a scene that feels like it exists to justify the final page of the previous issue and not something the Avengers would actually do to take the Hood down.
From there, though, the issue improves with a fun sequence of the Red Hulk using the Power Gem to pummel the Hood and chase him through various alternate realities like the “Marvel Zombies” world or the Ultimate Universe. Unfortunately, these incursions into other worlds are relegated to background art from comics showcasing those worlds and without any interaction with the characters. Still, as far as chase scenes go, it’s a good one and the frantic, clumsy look of the Red Hulk trying to smash the Hood while he frantically flees is handled perfectly by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson.
The end of the issue is a very good ending with Tony Stark wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, as the cover shows, and using its power in a surprising way. The final page actually closes the chapter in many ways on the problems Tony and Steve Rogers have had since “Civil War.” It will be interesting to see what Bendis does with this ending in the future.
As I mentioned, Romita and Janson do some great work in this issue. Where the opening scene with ‘Thanos’ may read poorly, the art is gorgeous. Romita’s depiction of the character has a physicality and heft that a lot of artists don’t capture. He’s an imposing figure here, while the Hood becomes even more lanky and grotesque as the issue progresses. The way that Romita plays with the looks of characters to show off their essences is wonderful.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Dean White’s colors and how well he uses basic primary colors to make the art pop. There’s a judicious use of computer effects that enhance the art without overpowering it, placing emphasis exactly where it needs to be. The Infinity Gems effect is a little distracting, but still effective.
The first five issues of this story didn’t quite blow the doors off, but “Avengers” #12 finishes things well. Not everything works, especially the first scene, and, yet, it’s satisfying. The art is great-looking and the final pages are smart.