It's over! What started in June 0f 2010 is finally drawing to a close in "Avengers: The Children's Crusade" #9. It's worth noting that at the time this series started, "Shadowland" was going on in "Daredevil," and "Brightest Day" was rocking the DC Universe. Amazing how things change, isn't it?
Allan Heinberg has guided this team of Avengers fans through a thorough journey, pitting X-Men against Avengers and both against Doctor Doom. The conclusion, however, is less about fisticuffs and more figuring out how to pick the pieces up of the story that's been scattered over the previous eight (nine if you include the offbeat one-shot/tie-in from this time last year). Save for Iron Lad having a critical Anakin-teetering-on-the-edge-of-Vader moment sharply punctuated by someone calling him out as the once and future Kang, this issue has no fighting -- just lots of talking and posturing.
However, Heinberg handles talking and posturing quite nicely, especially with the characters he knows as intimately as the Young Avengers. Heinberg brought them into this world and for a moment, it looks like he's going to take them out. Every character is given time to shine and Heinberg finds the right tone and dialog for each of them. This issue is all about what happens in between skirmishes. Readers expecting big fights, harsh smackdowns and heroes pummeling one another in this issue will likely be disappointed.
Regardless of your expectations of this issue, the major saving grace and key draw is the art of Jim Cheung. Presented with the challenge of drawing talking heads, moping teenagers and interpersonal relationships, Cheung wonderfully succeeds on all counts. Cheung's work throughout this entire series has been worth the price of admission and this issue is no exception. Cheung draws the big moments and the quiet ones with equal detail and passion. The fallout on the battlefield depicting fallen Avengers as the survivors seek to console one another is filled with enough detail and emotion to carry the issue by itself. That's only one panel and Cheung doesn't hold back at all.
Justin Ponsor's coloring helps fill the panels with vibrancy, the characters with depth and the scenery with detail. Ponsor and Cheung are virtually inseparable in their work on this issue. Iron Lad wouldn't be quite as powerful looking, Scott Lang wouldn't be nearly as devastated, and Cyclops wouldn't be as determined to keep another M-Day from happening.
Poised between events past and events yet to come, "Avengers: The Children's Crusade" provided some great moments for the characters across multiple franchises. Set so close to the kickoff of "Avengers Vs. X-Men," I expected this final issue to be filled with considerably more action and excitement. This anti-climatic, quiet issue was still enjoyable, mind you, it just wasn't as bombastic as the talents and characters assembled would normally lead such a comic book to be.