Since receiving the "Avengers Assembled!" guide book for the Marvel Super-Heroes role playing game back in the 1980s, Avengers and Christmas have always been tightly knit together in my mind. To be given a retrospective (and let's be honest, that's what this issue is) that focuses on the heart of the Avengers is a welcomed gift.
Framed by eight new pages written by Dan Slott and illustrated by Khoi Pham (soon to be unleashed as the creative team on "Mighty Avengers"), "Secret Invasion: Requiem" is a collection of two critical issues in the evolution of Henry Pym. Both of those issues feature his lovely bride, Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp. Reprinted and recolored here are the first appearance of the Wasp, from "Tales to Astonish" #44 and the infamous court-martial story from "Avengers" #215. The new coloring makes these tales seem like new stories, rendered by some retro-genius sending off a tribute to Jack Kirby or Bob Hall. The end result is a re-presentation of two tales to be considered canon in Avengers lore. Their inclusion here will undoubtedly season the entrée to come in "Mighty Avengers".
Slott's new eight pages give us a peek into the fragile psyche of Henry Pym following the events of "Secret Invasion". Additionally, we gain a great deal of insight into the robotic mental processes of Jocasta, welcomed back from the scrap heap and ready to serve as the artificial backbone of this new squad. Pym makes a revelation here, taking up yet another new identity and leaping headfirst into the opportunity to avenge his fallen love.
Pham's art is strong, clean and stylized here. He's inking himself (or more likely being "digitally inked") and the look is a little more raw than his work was over on "Incredible Hercules". Nonetheless, his work here is well conceived and beautifully executed, giving Jocasta a Pinocchio-like longing for more of what life can offer through her gestures and stance, while strongly rendering a distracted, but determined Henry Pym.
The retrospective is rounded out with a five-page profile of the Wasp and a three-page montage of her various costumes. Some fluff, to be sure, but a nice retrospective to be certain. This issue serves as a requiem of a fallen Avenger. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who counted Janet Van Dyne among his (or her) favorite Avengers. For those of you a little more cash-strapped, sit tight, I'm certain Marvel will include the new pages in the first Slott and Pham "Mighty Avengers" premiere hardcover.