Avengers/Invaders

Avengers/InvadersSynopsis: The original Invaders (Captain America, Bucky, Human Torch, Toro, and the Sub-Mariner) return, courtesy of the award-winning team behind Earth X, Justice, and Project: Superpowers! The greatest super-team of World War II finds itself transported from the battlefields of the Second World War to a future they never imagined! Now, the Invaders must face two teams of Avengers who want desperately to believe these heroes are who they say they are, while Tony Stark confronts his greatest challenge since the Civil War as he must deal with the “return” of Steve Rogers. Confronted by a world they barely recognize, the Invaders will have to show Earth’s Mightiest Heroes just what kind of power, courage, and sheer determination it took to defeat the forces of unrelenting evil in the twentieth century. In fact, they may just have to do it again in the twenty-first!

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Avengers/Invaders, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Steve Sadowski 5.5

Oh, boy… did I ever drag myself through this book, the collection of a 12-part miniseries originally published in 2007. It’s not to say that it’s not good, it’s just that I didn’t like it. The writing is decent, the art is competent, but there was something about it that bored me to death, that displeased me pretty much from start to finish.

And yet you’d think that a story that pairs up the 1940’s Invaders with the present day Avengers would be fascinating. I mean, we’re talking time travel, The Red Skull, an undead Captain America, the cosmic cube, and World War II all converging together into one gigantic action piece.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, truth be told, it doesn’t come together particularly well. Firstly, there’s the fact that the Cosmic Cube, an omnipotent x-factor, is the driving force behind the story: it is the cause of the temporal shift, of The Invaders being in the present – for reasons that remain largely unexplained.

This leave readers with having to accept what they read with no questions asked. Why is this happening? Because the Cube made it so. Obviously, this bothers me tremendously, because I hate when things are conveniently left wide open to make the writing easier. It’s like explaining the course of events as being God’s will.

Sigh…

I could always write it off by saying that not everything in life makes sense, and sometimes you just roll with the punches, never truly understanding why things happened the way that they did. Fate? Dumb luck? Misfortune? It doesn’t matter, so long as you deal with it. And so one could say the same for our heroes.

Except that, at one point, we discover that D’Spayre has been using the Cube to feed on everyone’s misery, instead of using the all-powerful Cube to do anything he wants with it. Our heroes defeat D’Spayre, and then get a hold of the Cube, but it is casually stolen by a secondary character who wants to save his friends.

Urgh…

You’d think the heroes would be more vigilant. Alas, they’re not. So Dr. Strange sends them all back to the past to get the Cube back from this secondary character, a soldier who saw his friends die during WWII. Somehow he was able to stop the ripple effects of time to send just a few choice players. But not even himself.

Then we discover that this soldier uses the Cube to save his friends, but not just stop the war. He gets shot so he drops the Cube and The Red Skull, somehow, manages to get his hands on it. The soldier was unable to retrieve the Cube after dropping it, no one noticed it lying there, but the Red Skull mysteriously finds it.

Uh…

And of course, The Red Skull doesn’t tap into its unfathomable power to simply rewrite history completely; despite his purported brilliance, he merely uses it to win the war on some fronts and build up his defenses. Seems to me that the Cube could easily allow him to do so much more. And yet he doesn’t.

And this is what I hate about this book. The stupid Cosmic Cube is raw power beyond belief, but no one makes use of it, leaving a door open for failure in the face of weaker counter-forces. Furthermore, the Cube’s own expressions of power as well as its motivations are cryptic, sometimes explained in simple new age-y terms that weren’t satisfying.

Basically, all of these convoluted contrivances were merely excuses to have one action sequences after the next – something I got tired of rather quickly. I need some meat to my stories, and if the writers only provide sketchy details then the rest is all superfluous to me – no matter how exciting the art gets.

Which, by the way, was a major failing of the book. While the artwork is certainly competent, it didn’t properly represent some of Marvel’s characters – at least facially. The perfect example was Wolverine, who looked nothing like himself, and was completely unrecognizable when he dressed up as Captain Terror – and not because his disguise was superb.

It’s peculiar, because the art really bothered me, and yet, when I looked at the pencils in the special features section of the book, they looked quite good. Somehow in the process of inking and colouring, the artwork lost a lot of its luster. It wasn’t stellar (at least not compared to Alex Ross’ covers and sketches – included therein), but it was better beforehand.

Which leads me to the notion that great art means nothing if it’s not highlighted properly, or if the context in which its shown is inappropriate. The same thing happened with the ‘Captain America: Reborn‘ set, which was arguably nice-looking but somehow didn’t suit the piece properly; sometimes uglier can be better because it adds grit.

Anyway, in the end, I found that the ‘Avengers/Invaders’ series is hobbled by a serious lack of inspiration and attention to detail. It’s an intriguing notion to pit the two teams together, but it meant very little. It gave its creators a chance to spew off some vacuous inspirational messages in their final few moments, but that’s about all there is to it.

Frankly, the title, which is seriously lacking in creativity, is emblematic of the problem with this series.

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