Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE MIGHTY AVENGERS #8

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CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE MIGHTY AVENGERS #8
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Luke Ross, Rachelle Rosenberg
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 13th, 2015

A SECRET WARS: LAST DAYS Issue

The “Last Days” of the Marvel Universe are upon the Mighty Avengers, as the first Secret Wars tie-in shows how team handles the news that the world is going to end. Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t go over very well. The end result is a solid issue that helps expand the scope of characters of Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers and making the events of Time Runs Out feel even bigger than they already had.

This issue along with this week’s Magneto are the first tie-ins to Secret Wars. Falling under the “Last Days” category these issues take place before the end of the universe. So for readers looking that picked up Secret Wars and are looking for more titles set after the fall of the Marvel Universe these books won’t be for you. These tie-ins are for fans of specific books being able to see how their favorite characters reacted to the end. That gives writers quite a bit of latitude on when exactly to set these titles. Ewing and Ross start their story 178 days before the events of Secret Wars #1. That puts it squarely during the events of Time Runs Out. It will be interesting to see how different titles take advantage of the rather broad concept of “Last Days.” Ewing and Ross take full advantage of being able to spread out the story, and create a great tie-in issue.

Writer Al Ewing had a tough job to pull off here in this issue. He had to have the events leading to the final incursion explained to the Mighty Avengers characters without being derivative to readers, had to tie the issue in with the team’s appearance in the Time Runs Out story, and had to capture the feelings of individual characters as they learned that the Illuminati left them out of their grand plans.

For the most part Ewing succeeds in tying together these elements to create a worthy tie-in issue. I say for the most part, because it’s hard at this point to hear Steve Rogers give the Mighty Avengers lineup a rundown of what had been happening in New Avengers over the past few years without it sounding like a retread. It’s hard to imagine that readers of this title aren’t at least aware of the incursions and how the Iluminati attempted to stop them. If for some reason it’s all new to you, Ewing does a great job distilling the facts down into digestible chunks. For those readers that have been reading Hickman’s work one of the best parts of this issue will be the reactions of the Mighty Avengers. These reactions are all over the emotional spectrum (pun intended), and in including these characters this issue retroactively helps give more weight to the Time Runs Out story that ran in Hickman’s Avengers titles for the eight months prior to Secret Wars.

Whether it’s Luke Cage reacting to Steve having joined the Illuminati, Kaluu’s nonchalant banter with Steve, or Spectrum’s calling out Sam there are a lot of real world emotions here. These emotions were overlooked late in Hickman’s run because of the breakneck speed at which the plot was pushed forward in every issue. That still doesn’t take away the fact that this issue is primarily just talking and discussing important matters. There’s just over a page of action, and it is the least interesting part of the issue, as we have seen it play out a few months back.

The highlight of the issue was how seamlessly Ewing was able to weave the Mighty Avengers’ appearance back in New Avengers #28 into the narrative. In that issue The Mighty Avengers were little more than backup as part of a bigger plan. Here in Captain America And The Mighty Avengers #8 readers are given insight into how they came to be on the battlefield that day. Ewing also works in between pages of Hickman’s book to deliver this issue’s most powerful moment. The conversation, or confrontation even, between Black Panther, Reed Richards of the Illuminati, and The Mighty Avengers Blue Marvel and Spectrum was supercharged. Al Ewing has spent a considerable amount of time establishing Blue Marvel as one of the most brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe, and rehabilitating Monica Rambeau back into one of Marvel’s premiere leading ladies. Both characters have been elevated in recent months and to see them go toe to toe in a debate on the battlefield with T’Challa and Reed was amazing. Seeing Adam and Monica lecture the weary Illuminati members for not trusting them might have been the pinnacle of Ewing’s work with the two. They both showed they belong on equal footing with some of Marvel’s greatest minds, and as a result, the team’s status has been rightfully elevated.

The art team of penciler Luke Ross and color artist Rachelle Rosenberg turn out a perfectly adequate comic book that ventures on being quite good. It never reaches greatness, but it looks solid throughout. One of the highlights of this title has been the old school fun element that the artists have employed. It has been able to establish itself distinctively from the darker works of artists like Kev Walker and Mike Deodato Jr. over on Avengers and New Avengers. In a story that overlaps with events in those titles the tone of the art here is a bit jarring for readers that have followed all of the Avengers titles over the past several months.

Taken completely on its own Ross’ art shines the most on individual characters. He draws one of the better old man Rogers that I have seen since the character’s rapid transformation. The roller coaster of emotions felt by the different members of the team throughout the issue is powerful in large part because of Ross’ art. The character work when the panels are pushed in close to the faces for intense conversations is superb. Ross is able to establish group shots during conversations, and then he cuts away to a single individual on a panel when they are about to make an emotionally strong point. The flow of an issue with a lot of conversation is important, and despite the details being nothing special, the pacing during scenes is great. The way the art is layed out makes sure that the talking heads look and work far better than the action scenes. Luckily, there’s one and a half pages of fisticuffs, so the issue doesn’t suffer as a result.

Al Ewing has been doing a wonderful job on this volume of Mighty Avengers. Adding Captain America’s name to the title has seemed to reinvigorate this book over the past eight issues to the point where seeing his name on a future core Avengers title has become an exciting prospect. It is a testament to Ewing’s abilities that he is able to take the framework of a crossover, and not only write a really well done Secret Wars tie-in under the “Last Days” banner, but also continue the character work that he has worked hard to develop.

For many readers, their enjoyment will come out of how much talking they enjoy talking heads. For fans of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers some of this issue may be a little repetitive, but enough new wrinkles are added by including the thoughts and opinions of another set of characters that it makes Time Runs Out feel even more epic than it already did. For fans that have just been reading this book enough information is given that it is feasible to be able to jump into Secret Wars straight from here. Captain America And The Mighty Avengers #8 isn’t perfect, but still remains an example of a tie-in of this nature done right. It sets a great example for all “Last Days” titles yet to come. If this is what we can expect from these titles going forward then readers are in for a solid event both on Battleworld and before.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

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