Avengers Forever has been a multiversal experience, to say the least, dropping Ghost Rider into a dimension filled with familiar, but very different characters. Ant-Man, for instance, is Tony Stark, and the man torturing Ghost Rider is Black Skull. He’s a combo of Venom and Red Skull and he’s hoping to break Ghost Rider’s will. Fat chance when it’s Robbie Reyes we’re talking about.
This issue opens on a few heroes we’ve not yet seen on Earth 818. It’s a colorful way to play with familiar characters and we get a good look at Vision, an Infinity Stone-melded Thing, Wonder Man, and an interesting new Moon Knight. Ant-Man is the leader, or at least he thinks he is, and they embark on a breakout for Ghost Rider and a Deathlock that has tied itself to him.
As a prison-break issue, this comic is a lot of fun. Each of these Avengers gets to shine, showing off their powers and far more violent nature in this dimension. Two details mix things up, the first being Ghost Rider’s desire to stay and the second involving a bit of a twist that changes how the heroes infiltrate the prison. It’s a fun, action-packed narrative with spurts of character flourishes thrown in to make each action feel impactful.
Aaron Kuder draws a slick issue with inks by Cam Smith and Scott Hanna. Kuder plays with space well here, like a single War Machine robot filling a page on the left, his fellow War Machines getting taken out over two panels that lead your eye downward nicely. Kuder’s style has a pleasing 3D effect, especially in faces and Black Skull’s creative Symbiote chainsaw arm. This is also due to the bright colors from Guru-eFX, who adds great volume to the characters. It has a pop that suits Aaron’s series which opened with Ed McGuinness.
There are other creative ideas at work, like Ant-Man shrinking across linked panels, or an explosion of a bad guy’s hands from a burst of power from Thing. This is an action-first story that never stops and always seems to have a new fun idea on every page turn.
Of course, as an action-first issue, expect a more bombastic, bubblegum experience. We’re three issues in, so the identity of this series is clear by now, but it does lack a sense of deeper purpose. Ghost Rider has been the central focus, especially in the last issue, although here he’s more of a bystander until the last moments. It ends up making this a joyous ride with great art regardless of lack of larger purpose or character work.
Expect a lot of crazy action, creative twists on heroes you’re familiar with, and a heroic breakout in Avengers Forever #3. If you’re a Marvel fan there isn’t a better way to cut loose and escape our reality, and the 616 reality at that.
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