Mighty Avengers is swept up in Original Sin this time around, for good and for neutral. The upside of tying in to Marvel’s latest, greatest (for now) event is a likely increase in sales, meaning the book stays around longer, while the downside is that most plot threads get shoved aside or put on hold so our heroes can deal with this new threat. Mighty Avengers actually avoids those problems and ultimately, art aside, turns out a pretty solid issue.
The consistent downside to Might Avengers has always been its pencils. Greg Land is again on art this time around. Valerio Schiti did outstanding work during his fill-in tenure, but for whatever reason Marvel keeps going back to Land. His tracing is distracting and obvious. On the first two pages alone, every single person has practically the same exact face (except for the old woman, who is just copy+pasted from #3) but the absolute worst of it comes on pages fourteen and eighteen – you’ll know them when you see them. Marvel has said before that they like putting Greg Land on books because they know he incenses fans, and they’d rather have angry invested fans than placid uncaring fans. But his involvement in a book actively poisons it. Even his best page, the “retro” one, is brought down by obvious laziness and tracing. The guy is a terrible, lazy artist, and his tracing limits the story at best and makes it disgusting and ridiculous, an exaggerated parody of everything wrong with comic book art, at worst.
The worst part is that the other artists involved, inker Jay Leisten and colorist Frank D’Armata, are good at their jobs and have consistently put out excellent work here. Leisten’s inks and definitions are, as always, strong, salvaging what he can of Land’s shoddy workmanship. D’Armata’s colors have been a regular strong point through the series. Adam’s scenes on the moon with Ulana have a delicate, almost otherworldly tinge to them. Blade’s battle with the were-roosters (I love this book) is gorgeous, particularly the spooky evil hellfire, and the portrayal of Monica Rambeau’s light-based powers is just fantastic. The two are honestly terrific at their jobs, but the problem is that their jobs involve working with Greg Land, which just taints the whole product. Your house can look gorgeous, but when its foundation is lazy and awful, you’re going to have a cruddy house.
That said, Al Ewing’s script is so consistently great and fun that it makes slogging through the traced porn pretty worth it. Issue #10 is probably the weakest script in the series, but even then it’s good. The only real problem is the jarring C-plot, wherein Monica, Luke, and Sam Wilson battle a mindless one. This picks up from Original Sin’s main series, so if you are not reading that it comes pretty out of nowhere – not helped by the fact that it begins in the middle of the fight with no real establishing context. But it also gives us a Nextwave joke, and involving Nextwave in something almost always automatically improves it. The B-Plot picks up with Blade again battling the plans of the Deathstalkers and their were-minions, which is great fun and ends the issue on a cool cliffhanger.
The heart of the issue, however, focuses on Adam. Luke, Monica, and Sam’s plot is something completely new, and Blade’s follows the plot he’s been having, Adam’s is a bit of both. He’s just lost his sons again, and now his friend Uatu has been murdered – something he was ignorant of until Reed Richards casually informs him of it. The man has lost so much, and the wounds were just ripped open again. He can’t even relate or offer comfort to Ulana, because as a human he feels more grief than her. His plot from the previous issues is actually resolved somewhat here. Having lost his family, Adam is given a second chance in a genuinely touching moment – which is almost tanked by Greg Land’s awful, insincere, traced face nonsense. Whether or not it’s ruined may be up to you, but it does seriously hinder the scene’s emotional resonance when the man can’t even be bothered to try to draw a real smile on his own.
Mighty Avengers has been a consistently good to great series in terms of writing and most of its artwork, but Greg Land’s presence, as always, drags it down. Land’s art is more distracting and awful here than usual, and whether or not that ruins the book forever is up to you. Personally, even with that black hole of a man, Ewing and the rest have proven strong enough at their jobs to make a fun, energetic, heartfelt book – and that’s what I’m here for.