Aero is a series that may be over for now, but it all started as an attempt to bring more Asian superheroes into the Marvel universe. Set in Shanghai, China, the character popped up in Agents of Atlas and had a good first story arc to introduce the character to American readers. Aero has the ability to control nature’s winds and quickly becomes her cities protector. In the second volume, now in trade paperback, Aero learns her powers can be extended to do, even more, she has troubles with her boyfriend and even teams up with Iron Man.
Aero has everything you need in a good superhero book: a relatable character who is down to Earth, a guide who knows more than she does and can set up lessons, and a somewhat faceless villain to destroy when necessary. Written by Zhou Liefen with art by Keng, this book has the superhero slickness you’d want on a casual Sunday. It never probes the character too deeply — she’s effectively the same level of tired, interested, and intriguing throughout the book — and instead focuses on her mysterious powers to generate interesting developments. In truth, Aero learning about how she can create avatars of herself is a neat trick and it’s fun to see her go through a training session to master it. That said, beyond that this book is quite vapid and uninteresting.
That might explain why Iron Man comes in for a two-part team up to wrap up the book. His introduction validates the character’s existence and brings in a familiar face to interact with Aero, but it’s also clunky in its approach. For instance, Aero loses control of her powers twice and would fall to her death without Tony’s help. You’d think this would be a cause for concern, but instead Tony leaves her be, as if she might not fall again. Through this we learn Aero has a problem with overtaxing herself, which is a nice message to send readers, and she needs to iron out her boyfriend issues, but it’s heavy-handed and not integrated into the story in an interesting way. It happens, and then they move on.
The villains are also uninteresting. They’re basically crystal or rock monsters who do damage because they’ve made their home in the city itself and don’t like others. Aero comes to the rescue numerous times, but there are no stakes in play as far as Aero’s stopping them. She does so with some trouble here or there, but it’s not like we’re ever to believe she’s in danger.
The art is good for an animated style that’s clearly digital. The wind effects and Aero’s costume look slick and dynamic, and there are plenty of effects like motion blur to tide over action aficionados. Colors aren’t quite as bright as you might expect, with a lot of cool blues and whites, but that fits the Aero aesthetic.
Aero is an experiment in exploring how to integrate brand new characters into a decades-old universe. For the most part, it works, though its overall quality does feel hampered by simplistic plotting and character development. Aero is likely not going anywhere, so longtime Marvel fans might as well pick this up just so they’re in the know, but it’s not the strongest work you’ll read.
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