Jason Aaron and Juan Frigeri’s “Death Hunt” story arc comes to an end this week in a story that leans into the craziness of the multiverse. The Multiversal Masters of Evil are giving the Avengers a serious whooping, but that’s likely because they aren’t fighting as a team. In this finale, the Deathloks are becoming far rarer as Doom Supreme, kid Thanos, and more colorful villains attack Avengers Mountain!
As one might assume this story is partly about how weak the Avengers can be when split up. The issue opens with Captain Marvel, Starbrand, and Captain Marvel rushing to help their fellow Avengers when Thor and Phoenix from another dimension attack. Aaron gives a little help from a friend in this opening battle as Thor comes to grips with the fact that the new Phoenix of the 616 universe may be worthy to fight alongside him. It’s cool to see them connect and they certainly earn this bond in the scene.
As far as the meat of the issue is concerned, this finale has a heavy plot thickening vibe. The heroes don’t necessarily win, but they do achieve some goals. There are also callbacks to previous stories so there are developments worth keeping track of. Characters like Starbrand and Valkyrie get moments of reflection and development in subtle ways. There is a heavy web of character work that is long-game storytelling at work here. The plot thickens, but alas it also doesn’t feel totally satisfying.
Something that feels a bit lacking with this issue is the utter defeat the Avengers should be feeling, but it doesn’t quite feel that way. Yes, the Multiversal Masters of Evil achieved a goal, but the Avengers who fought multiversal enemies didn’t do too poorly. There were no great losses, be it death or damage. The general feel of the book is quite bright thanks to the color choices.
Art by Frigeri is good, supplying epic moments that are thrilling and dramatic. With Avengers Mountain ready to crush our Avengers it’s cool to see characters literally hold it up. Given how static that imagery could be, Frigeri makes these characters really look like they’re lifting hundreds of tons.
David Curiel proves once again why he’s one of the best color artists in the game with great lighting no matter the situation. There is a disheartening moment where Namor holds up a way-too-big piece of metal and the lighting gives an ominous feel. You really think he won’t make it and it is one of the only moments where the book goes dark in tone.
Avengers #54 is a fine ending to a story that has given us a taste of the Multiversal Masters of Evil, but doesn’t commit to a final conclusion. The heroes lick their wounds and future fights will occur, leaving this issue too open-ended. That said, Aaron continues to be very good at writing characters across an issue, making even the quietest of moments matter.
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