One night this last summer, I was minding my business, when someone posted a page that made me stop what I was doing and marvel.
Thanos getting merced by other marvel villains is a favorite genre of mine, for its excessiveness and its cheesiness, and this was immediately a top example. However, while Avengers Mech Strike reaches these heights in a few places, it mostly squanders its core concept, along with hitting some other annoying lows.
Primarily, I am frustrated with the deployment of the titular mechs, which on some level, shouldn’t have surprised me. Mechs are used in ways that disappoint me all across media, and have only impressed me a couple of times (shouts to COUNTER/weight, the best mech story I’ve ever encountered). Typically, stories featuring mechs rise above the chaff when they interact with ideas of bodily autonomy, the decay of physical forms, or the weaponization of our bodies. Stories tackling those kinds of themes are perfectly suited for the genre; unfortunately, Avengers Mech Strike doesn’t make use of any of them.
Instead, the comic, in my opinion, squanders the possibilities of the mech genre by just doing a story about big robot suits beating up big monsters. This on its own isn’t much of a complaint — I have loved plenty of stories that boil down to two big things hitting each other, and depth of themes isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality. The problem here is, in order to really work, I think the big punching things have to look interesting, and for the most part, that isn’t what happens here.
I fully understand why each superhero has a personalized Mech that looks like them. Characters need to be able to be easily differentiated, and the suits are based off of some of the best designs in superhero comics (looking at you, Spidey). My problem is…they all kinda look like off-brand Transformers. Beyond that, why does Hulk need a suit? Why does Thor’s have a Mjolnir hand? Shouldn’t normal Mjolnir be stronger? For the most part, I can ignore those kinds of critiques, especially on the grounds of this being a very silly comic where Kang hyper-ages Thanos, but at the same time, I think they are a frequent reminder of the book’s failings on a thematic level.
Even with those problems, I still had fun with the series, largely due to the concepts it used outside of the mech stuff, especially everything regarding T’Challa, and the way the story used the Avengers.
T’Challa’s arc across the series is where it shines the brightest. From his prevalence in solving the initial threat, to becoming the Herald of Eternity, the character is treated with great respect, and the story hinges on his decisions. It’s a great use of the character, and a very cool new concept at play.
The series is another example of how fun this Avengers roster and status quo is, and shows how its flexibility is a huge strength. The malleability of the current concept makes for an easier time to make miniseries like this, and I think this was a great example of how to do it.
For a comic that was clearly made to sell toys…well, it was a comic that was clearly made to sell toys. At times it elevated beyond that, but for the most part, it was just a book that got made. It’s disappointing that the mech suits didn’t do anything I cared about. Pretty fun though, I guess.
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