Avengers #17 // Review
“And we thought the Russians hated us before,” says Iron Man. “We just blew up a Hulk in their back yard.” Yes: She-Hulk blows-up in a huge green mushroom cloud at the story’s climax. The fact that this is actually kind of a minor detail in the latest issue of The Avengers is a testament to how appealingly weird it is. Jason Aaron writes a story drawn by David Marquez as “The Kingdom of the Vampires” storyline draws to a close. The Avengers make a mess of Russia-based monsters in a fun, witty action issue that extends many individual elements of the team in some rather exciting directions.
As the issue opens, the world’s most infamous vampire has been subject to the horror of seeing his life torn apart in front of him. Dracula’s an old guy, though. His inner monologue reveals that he’s been through hell before. This time he’s being exiled to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone--one of the most radioactively contaminated places on earth. No one is going to come looking for him there. Meanwhile, the Avengers mobilize to attack the Winter Guard--a villainous group of monsters responsible for Dracula’s exile and the deaths of countless vampires.
Aside from moments with. Dracula, Aaron puts together an issue-length action sequence that experiments with interesting dynamics within the team. Black Panther altruistically wants to cure vampirism. A relative newcomer to the squad, Blade points out that not all vampires deserve a cure. Add to a vengeance-seeking ghost rider and long-serving team members like Iron Man and Captain America. There’s a hell of a lot of action taking place in the issue. To Aaron's credit, it’s not a big ugly mess. It’s a very textured and nuanced slugfest.
The moments with Dracula contrast against the massive action of the Avengers’ fight with a sharply kinetic sense of direction thanks to some very detailed visuals by Marquez. From the heartbreaking moodiness of a deposed Dracula in snow-covered Chernobyl to the jarring action of mighty heroes battling an army of the undead amidst the silent whit of a million motion lines, Marquez shows an impressive sense of graphic versatility for an issue that mostly consists of a single battle.
Blade is hanging out with a mini-Man-Thing. Jen literally blows-up. Blade performs a decapitation and Captain Marvel shoots a blast right through the head of a vampire. There's witty dialogue and brisk pacing. It’s a fun conclusion to the story for Aaron and Marquez. Next month, Ed McGuinness takes over the art as the War of the Realms crossover event. Aaron has an opportunity to take the team in new directions as the Squadron Supreme re-enters the picture once more like the United States’ latest superhero team.