With the events of “Fear Itself” raging (which are just about starting to make sense...) Hank Pym leads his charges into battle, but the fights are hard, and the kids are making some tough decisions -- ones which they’ll almost certainly come to regret.
The issue is largely divided into two parts. The first sees Hank Pym, as Giant Man, facing off against Greithoth, Breaker of Wills. Ironically, it’s Greithoth’s will which has been broken, as the sight of Pym snaps the Absorbing Man back into some sort of control over his own body, although retaining his Asgardian power-up.
Although it’s an enjoyable grudge match, there’s a sense of an inevitable inconclusive result here (after all, none of The Worthy seem to have been definitively stopped yet, and now’s hardly the time) but at least the fight gets an interesting, Pym-esque resolution. It’s just a shame that the fight was occurring on the flimsiest of premises when there’s so much more potential in it.
Far more intriguing than the Pym-Creel battle, however, is the latter part of the issue, in which Veil and Finesse find themselves helping survivors in the wake of the attack on the capital. After Veil narrowly rescues a young girl’s mother from dying in the wreckage of a building, the woman is killed by fire from one of the Red Skull’s mechs. What Veil does afterwards is equally understandable and disturbing, and made all the more interesting for what it says about her character.
Back in issue #1, you may recall, Veil was the eyes and ears of the book’s audience, and back then, the knowledge that she was considered a potential villain was supposed to be as obviously untrue to us as it was to her. Yet here we are, watching her take some decidedly un-heroic actions fed by her own anger, rather than any heroic intent. It’s masterful work by Gage, and part of a story I can’t wait to read more of.
Tom Raney’s artwork is a good fit for “Avengers Academy,” easily on a par with regular artist Mike McKone. With inks and coloring that make the most of his bright, clear superheroics, “Avengers Academy” is as consistent visually as it is on the script level.
Ultimately, while the intrusion of “Fear Itself” into the book’s ongoing narrative might not be doing “Avengers Academy” any particular favours, at least Gage is capable of making the most of the crossover in ways that let him advance his regular plotlines. If you didn’t know better, it’d seem almost as if it were planned. If only all crossovers could be as bearable.