Jason Aaron and Javier Garron have made “The Age of Khonshu” story arc an intense ride that may actually give you whiplash. Avengers #33 was an excellent example of introducing an idea with measured grace and triumphant battles. In Avengers #34, the story cut between the past and present to reveal how Khonshu took over Earth. In just two issues the Avengers are vanquished and the god Moon Knight gains his power from is in control. That’s a lot to take in, and in this third issue in the arc, it’s time for Iron Man — with a baby strapped to his chest — to save the world with Captain Marvel. No biggy.
Avengers #35 continues to shock and surprise, this time opening with the ancient Avengers Aaron first introduced in Marvel Legacy. This scene adds context to the bigger story and why Khonshu has wanted revenge against the Avengers. There’s also an interesting concept of a god who lost his control of the people that is touched upon. In many ways, this opening validates and enhances the bigger picture.
The rest of the book cuts between three different scenes, bouncing back and forth to show how the Avengers might gain an edge in this war. The first scene is about Khonshu dealing with a pesky problem, the second is Captain America, Hulk, and Blade fighting to get control back, and finally in the third, Captain Marvel and Iron Man are trying to gain an advantage with baby Starbrand attached to Tony’s chest.
By far, the Blade, Hulk, and Cap scene is the most fun with good dialogue between the characters. Blade really zings on the page and is well written. Khonshu is interesting and adds a supernatural feel to the book, but doesn’t go far though even if it does confirm he can be beaten. Finally, the Iron Man scene feels a bit off. Tony’s voice isn’t quite right, he’s stressed out and swearing, and he’s not a master of planning like he usually is in his own book. He’s a bit of a goofball and it doesn’t really work.
This book is more humorous than I expected. Given the stakes in play and how little chance the Avengers have, there are bits of funny dialogue and reactions. It might be a bit too much with Iron Man (see above?) but it helps lighten the mood and make the nature of the story more blockbuster fun. Hell, even Khonshu is funny in this issue.
The art by Garron is strong, especially in the opening scene with the ancient Avengers. Colors by Jason Keith pop when there are fire or energy effects (and there are a lot in this issue), or even when there’s something simple like a motorcycle light streaking across the page. There is a splash page revealing a thorn in Khonshu’s side that’s rendered well, right down to each ab while cool blurred energy effects dash in front of him.
Avengers #35 is stronger than the last, but still falters a bit. Still, it’s quite clear the story is managing to tell an epic story in lightning speed in an industry where stories overstay their welcome. It’s starting to feel like this story arc is managing an idea that’s too big for each issue, but it manages to entertain and deliver on fun character moments just enough to make it worth a read.