Avengers is heating up at Marvel Comics as the Multiversal Masters of Evil loom after their introduction. There’s also the dirty little secret about the Phoenix and its relationship to Thor. Kicking off this week is “The Death Hunters” story arc which involves Deathlocks — yes, plural — the Avengers not quite together, and the new Phoenix Echo trying to grow into her new role.
It’s not necessary to read Avengers Forever #1 to understand this story, but it is helpful to know how the many Deathlocks are from another reality. This issue opens on Asgard where we find Thor working off some anger on a punching bag. Iron Man is trying to talk some sense into him about how heroes don’t ever have healthy families, especially gods like Thor, but he’s too angry to hear him.
Jason Aaron does well to capture Thor’s anger, throws in a clever punching bag joke of sorts, and makes Iron Man sound very natural in this scene too. Thor is pissed that Phoenix might be his mother, and as if writer Jason Aaron is listening to fans, we learn it may not even be true. Then again, something is up, which adds an interesting bit of mystery that will increase reader interest. Echo also makes an appearance and she’s not happy either.
The trope of the heroes not quite being on the same page is a factor, which leads right into a major confrontation. There’s a payoff for readers of Avengers #50 as the villains that show up get to stretch their legs and push Thor and Iron Man to the brink. Juan Frigeri shows this off well with in-your-face action that’s customary of the Aaron era. You can see the force of every punch, be it claws across a face or a fist through the torso.
Colors by David Curiel lean into the brightness of these comic book heroes with some exceptional energy effects. Iron Man’s armor looks great, with multiple angles represented well with different color tones. There aren’t a lot of backgrounds throughout the book, but Curiel’s colors add good volume and shadow to the clothes making them a major feature.
Echo’s arc in this issue is a bit too basic, arriving angry, confronting Thor but caring little, and eventually finding the will to do more. Aaron certainly gives her a reason to have an edge in the fight, but there isn’t enough here to make it feel earned. She’s also very new to this lineup, so her scenes don’t have a lot of backstory weight to them.
Avengers #51 comes out of the gate swinging with high emotions, disarray within the Avengers, and the first official confrontation from the Multiversal Masters of Evil. It pays off readers following both Avengers Forever and the milestone Avengers #750. Echo ends up feeling a bit underwritten here, but here’s to the tease that there may be more to her connection to Thor than we know.
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