Review: AVENGERS #43

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AVENGERS #43
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Mayhew
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 1, 2015

The Illuminati decides what to do with a caged Tony Stark as the Shi’ar and their allies prepare to decimate Earth.

Just another day in the life of an Avenger as time runs out. Jonathan Hickman continues his purposely vague discussion of why Iron Man is in a cube and what he did to get there before shifting the focus to survival in this issue, a story that is written well but has some issues. The pacing of this issue is not as strong as some of the past chapters have been, with asides occurring before and after the mayhem ensues that feel out of place…or at least like they are being inserted into this story at an odd time. There is a lot packed into this issue, as is to be expected as we near the end of this series, and more of it works than doesn’t. Gladiator, in particular, is written very well and the might of the cosmic forces, when shown in battle against Earth’s Mightiest, is obvious. These are the same power players from Infinity but the roles have shifted and Hickman makes sure readers remember that these groups are mighty. This isn’t a one sided battle by any means, and Hickman keeps the conflict interesting by pulling some major “items” back into play from earlier in his run. Readers who have been around from the beginning will be intrigued by the presence of these things, and by the ramifications of them being back on the board.

With this issue he has set stacked the deck with some interesting cards and soon, when he reveals his hand, I think there will be some epic comics. Large parts of this issue are providing setup for the grand finale, so some of the judgment of this story will have to wait until all has been revealed. I couldn’t help but feel that this issue was lacking some of the intensity of the past issues of Avengers and New Avengers, and despite some major action in this comic it felt to me like things stalled slightly, or are at least pausing briefly while waiting for the big conclusion.

Some of what felt “off” may lie with Mike Mayhew’s artwork, which is inconsistent throughout the issue. His character work has a very cartoon-ish feel, with very little emotion being highlighted and, even though he pencils the entire issue, it seems as though the cosmic battles were crafted using a very different style. The look and feel is different enough to make me wonder if a second artist was involved, and the different style choices do not work well together. The net effect is an issue that looks as though multiple artists contributed, but there is actually only one name on the cover, which slightly boggles my mind as more consistency has to be expected. There are anatomy issues with several characters in the issue, and many different parts of the comic look like they were rushed. In some of the cosmic sequences, especially where the armada is concerned, the ships look to be layered in an odd fashion – almost like stickers placed on a paper background. There is next to no spacial interaction between the ships and the pages look rigid and somewhat awkward. The story gets told but it is a bumpy ride along the way, and I hope the final issues of Avengers/New Avengers feature greater consistency in style and quality.

Avengers #43 sets the board for a pretty huge conclusion, and features some explosive events but inconsistent art and some odd pacing make this issue stumble rather than fly. As part of the larger picture, the story is fine and features some interesting callbacks to elements found earlier in the run, but the artwork is lacking and the issue is very average when looked at as an individual comic.

The Verdict: 6.0/10

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