Best Shots Review: ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS #14 Stands Out Among CIVIL WAR II Tie-Ins

Marvel Comics September 2016 solicitations
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

All-New All-Different Avengers #14
Written by Mark Waid and Jeremy Whitley
Art by Adam Kubert and Sonia Oback
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

“Heartwarming” isn’t always a word used to describe tie-ins to giant event comic books, but All-New All-Different Avengers #14 certainly fits the bill. Mark Waid is joined by Princeless creator Jeremy Whitley on this issue, and they use this book to examine some of the more minute fallout from the events of Civil War II. The writers hone in on Nadia Pym and Janet Van Dyne, highlighting their very different relationships to Hank Pym and redefining some of what it means to be a superhero in the process. Adam Kubert is their stalwart artistic companion, providing the book with a seasoned look that is expected of a veteran artist of his stature.

It’s a little hard to see where one writer ends and the other begins in this script, and that’s not a bad thing. That means that the two have similar approaches to characters and they double down on that here. One of the biggest strengths of Nadia Pym as a character is her unbridled enthusiasm. In fact, she’s not unlike her father in that regard, and that plays well against Janet and Jarvis’ weary acceptance of things as they are. It’s a smart move that gives Nadia, essentially a blank slate from a continuity perspective, some real likability.

After injecting a little bit of action into the script as Nadia and Janet deal with the Russian Immigration Bureau, Waid and Whitley are then able to quickly recount the main conflict of Civil War II as Nadia looks for a way to fix that conflict herself by making Ulysses’ powers more accurate. I think that’s one of the biggest strengths of this tie-in. You don’t need to know much about these characters or the overarching megaplot to understand the dynamics and stakes of what’s going on. Everything is spelled out in a natural way that doesn’t take away too much from the forward momentum of the issue and all the exposition is pertinent to to the question that Nadia, and in turn, the writers themselves ask: Aren’t superheroes supposed to be better than this?

It’s a question that Hank Pym himself has asked both with regards to himself and others, and Janet recognizes that almost immediately. Nadia wants to do everything she can to fix the world, and Janet doesn’t want to squash that part of her nature - she recognizes how important it is. As readers, it might be easy for us to see that as a bit of meta-commentary on the exhaustive nature of superhero comic books. Heroes fight big battles against themselves that don’t really change anything except take some of our favorites out of rotation for a time while we’d almost always rather just see them just do good. Janet sees the importance in mentoring and rewarding Nadia’s hope and optimism in much of the same way Waid and Whitley avoid giving us a gloom and doom story here.

There isn’t much that can be said about Adam Kubert's work that hasn’t been said already. The man is a titan of the comic book industry and he turns in a solid issue here. Sticking with extremely modular layouts, Kubert is able to expertly manage the pacing of the title with the number of panels he uses per page. He does use a number of close crops that are a little awkward despite giving the best sense of the setting and the characters that are being referred to. Overall his character work is very good but Nadia Pym’s Wasp suit never looks quite as consistent as Janet’s especially when she has her helmet on. The pointed nature of the nose on the helmet tends to make her expressions look really goofy and is definitely a step back from what Kubert is able to do with her elsewhere in the book.

All-New All-Different Avengers is an interesting addition to the Civil War II canon. Waid, Whitley and company stay away from the main fray and craft a careful character study that puts into words some of the feelings that readers themselves have about the current state of superhero comic books. Kubert is as effective as ever, despite a couple of odd shot choices, but he’s able to deliver Waid and Whitley’s script here with aplomb. This issue of Avengers might not be what most readers are expecting, but over time it should stand out as one of the better tie-ins to come out of Civil War II.

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