"Mighty Avengers" #9 is the sort of comic that shows a large cast in a comic can still work. As Al Ewing continues to cycle through the crew of "Mighty Avengers," only half of the main characters are present this month -- but that's perfectly all right.
Ewing hasn't felt the need to make everyone's storylines all tie up perfectly at the same time, which is nice. While the Blue Marvel, She-Hulk and Spectrum are still dealing with a dimensional breach on Dr. Positron's island, the other storyline centered around the White Tiger had wrapped up beforehand. Thus, in this issue, those characters get to step off panel and let everything else continue onwards. It's a little thing, but it's good storytelling; Ewing doesn't push characters on page just for the sake of appearing, but he's also never keeping any of them out of the spotlight for so long that fans would feel cheated.
As for the story itself, in many ways it's a little perfunctory, but it works. The real thrust of the issue is more of the Blue Marvel's history, and his relationship with his oldest son Kevin. The glimpses of the two working together over the years are hysterically funny, with everything from the Atomic Skeletons of Paris, to multiple appearances of the Technocracy. (The version called the Millennium Bug being my personal favorite. I'm sure you can guess what year they appear in.) It makes the tragedy of the Blue Marvel's losing Kevin that much more painful, and it shifts Max from a random slightly mad scientist to someone with a real goal, one that you want to succeed a bit even though the price is potentially catastrophic. It's good storytelling from Ewing, and it works well. At the same time, Ewing brings another simmering subplot to the main stage, as we finally have Ronin's identity confirmed (even as the hints got broader and broader each issue), with a nice cliffhanger to bring readers back next month.
Those who like Greg Land's pencils will be happy, those who don't will be unsurprised. The art from Land and inker Jay Leisten always looks very slick and polished, something that I think even detractors would agree on. While a few moments come across looking a little too posed, I do think that on the whole this is one more Land's more lively looking comics. I do wish that Land could take his talents into a direction that doesn't feel posed at all, but for now I'll take these small steps forward where I can.
"Mighty Avengers" #9 takes a strange core of characters and continues to make them work. For a book full of castoffs that few others would want, this is the real deal. It's a reminder that just like the original "New Warriors" comic by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley back in the day, any character (or group of them) can be good if you just find the right approach. Don't get fooled, "Mighty Avengers" is elevating the game of all of the characters involved.