I still miss Kathryn Immonen’s Journey Into Mystery. The series started off well and improved further with every passing issue. It was fun, often funny, and always had clever wordplay. It starred Lady Sif, who really doesn’t get enough focus in the Marvel Universe. But in the meantime, at least Immonen writes this year’s Avengers Annual. This comic was kind of amazing.
It’s Christmas time at the Avengers tower. A number of kids are in for an evening tour, meeting some of the key members who are staying behind for the night. Afterward, the remaining Avengers go for their own individual celebrations. In some ways this comic feels a few weeks early, but it’s still a nice idea.
The first half of the comic focuses mostly on Captain America. He has some really great moments here, volunteering for the holidays instead of just relaxing. He connects with a fellow veteran in a conversation that could have easily made its own comic; it feels like a better Captain America issue than Rick Remender’s Dimension Z storyline in several ways. It also does a good job at exploring how lonely the holidays can be for some people, without making it distracting or overwhelming.
The rest of the issue takes place in the Avengers Tower, and it’s where the comic gets amazing. It turns out one of the kids from earlier, Zamira, has the insane power of duplicates looking like and being able to perfectly mimic other people’s voices. It’s hard to explain without seeing it, but it’s an awesome power. Her duplicates talk more as she gets more nervous, which wreaks havoc on the tower’s voice commands. What follows is a very entertaining action sequence as the remaining Avengers desperately trying to get the tower under control while dodging laser beams, robotic cheerleaders and fire extinguishing foam. There are so many funny one-liners, especially from Iron Man and the Hulk.
The art is good for the most part. It’s a simple look that really captures the mood. The opening splash page is an overview of the city, with little bubbles showing different people celebrating in their own way. The Avengers tower is decorated without being over the top, and each of the kids have their own look to them. Zamara’s duplicates borrow traits and costumes from the people they copy, yet they still look very much like her. It makes her power just as visually interesting as it is in concept. The art isn’t flawless though – there are a few inconsistencies here and there. Black Widow seems to have glasses that keep disappearing and reappearing. Her hair style seems to spontaneously change style and length as well. Bruce Banner has a lot of hair when he’s currently bald in his own series, making it hard to remember who he is at times. These problems aren’t a huge distraction and they don’t detract from this comic’s fun nature, but they are worth noting.
This is the most entertaining comic I’ve read this week by far. With the Captain America story and the insanity in the Avengers tower, this almost feels like two comics in one. If you enjoy the Avengers, or even just Captain America, you should definitely give this a read.