Though both are under the Original Sin banner, Mighty Avengers #11 takes a decidedly different path from #10. The former was a wrap of the previous arc, whereas Mighty Avengers’ new storyline begins here. Luke Cage is back in the spotlight and confronts his father James, a retired NYPD detective, over a huge secret from his past, revealed courtesy of Orb’s detonation of the Watcher’s eye (see Original Sin #2). Issue #11 builds on threads that have been present since the first issue, specifically Blade’s fight against the Deathwalkers. The very same group was active in the 1970s and had a run in with James and his team – people Luke thinks could be a precursor to his own Mighty Avengers, though his father says otherwise.
Most of the issue is spent in flashback to the night in 1972 where James’ world was shaken. Luke’s belief that his father had his own team of heroes isn’t a bad conclusion, considering James’ roster. Adam Brashear and Blade are both a part of the team, along with Kaluu – who, in the present, communicated with Blade about the Deathwalkers way back in #4 – and dedicated “freak beat” reporter Constance Molina. The whole flashback has a really fun, pulpy feel to it, and each character is engaging and fun. Everyone has their reason for coming together: Molina to get her story, Kaluu to investigate and stop whomever misusing his magic, Blade to stake some vamps, and James to figure out just what is going on.
Al Ewing’s dialogue is always pretty great, and Molina, Blade, and Kaluu get the best of it this time around. The latter two’s antagonistic interaction is a particular highlight, and leads into a really fun brawl on pages 12 and 13. Molina is charming, and it’s a good thing we’ll be seeing more of her in the near future. The few scenes in the present are well done, too. Luke and his father have obvious tensions, but there’s a definite love underneath the mutual hurt and frustration. Luke’s father hasn’t been involved in his son’s life for some time, so there’s a real mine of conflict to explore for future storylines. Does he even know Luke is married with a kid now? Please let that come up.
On the art front, Greg Land’s pencil work is not nearly as awful as it was previously. Land has some new models for the 1970s characters, and they are lovely people but still obviously traced. He doesn’t sabotage the product with his tracing like he did last issue, though there are parts where he clearly didn’t put in any effort and the dialogue and his faces don’t match – such as James’ visual nonchalance to Adam’s appearance, despite his dialogue indicating shock and even indignation. Still, he actually puts forth some work that is very well-done: the unsettling, mauled corpse of the bat-man, and Blade and Kaluu’s two-page battle. The fight is fun, punchy, and energetic. So – weird as it is to say – good job, Greg Land.
Jay Leisten’s inks are great, as they always are. Frank D’Armata’s color palettes, though, are really something else this issue. Smartly chosen, each scene relies on one primary color to establish its mood. He uses warm and comforting reds for Adam Brashear’s home, while James’ crime scene relies on cold, unwelcoming blues, and the morgue has an eerie green for all of the supernatural ookiness going on about it. James’ house in the present is mostly beige with colored edges, indicating his life appears normal and routine but there’s something at the perimeter that’s different here.
The Mighty Avengers’ origins continue next month with an escalation on election night ’72 and in the present. What awaits Blade? What did the original Mighty Avengers uncover? Will our present heroes stop it, or is it already too late to stop a plan decades in the making? Stop back on July 1st to find out. Until then: