All-New All-Different Avengers #7
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Andy Kubert, Sonia Oback, Dono Sanchez Almara, Romulo Fajardo and Edgar Delgado
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10
I've written in the past about Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill being a smart, opinionated kind of event story, but with All-New All-Different Avengers #7, I'm starting to think I might have spoken too soon. This flagship Avengers title feels divided to its very core - while the first third of this issue is dedicated to some heartfelt and moving character moments, as soon as the event storytelling rears its ugly head, this comic takes a sharp nosedive, turning into something unworthy of this creative team's prodigious talents.
In many ways, this chapter of Standoff feels like the Frankenstein's Monster of Civil War and Secret Invasion, but with a level of setup that feels rushed and underdeveloped, even by typical superhero event standards. It's weird, because the first third of this issue is actually really good - I really like the dynamic that Mark Waid has given Sam Wilson and Jane Foster, who are shaping the tenor of this team just by virtue of the legacies they carry. Previous Avengers runs have rested on the Tony Stark/Steve Rogers rivalry, but here, a Cap/Thor romance has plenty of storytelling mileage. Same with a really beautiful reconciliation between the Vision and Ms. Marvel - Waid clearly gets why people love Kamala Khan, especially, and he reflects that enthusiasm through several panels of a tearful, tender hug.
But once we have to get into the event storytelling, that enthusiasm - even that humanity - goes completely out the window. If it didn't list only one writer on the cover, I'd wonder if somebody body-snatched Mark Waid - that's how off-key the second half of this book is. Whether its the Avengers conveniently assembling at the drop of a hat to fight Z-lister Night Phantom (who continues this event's ill-conceived trend of supervillains screaming out key exposition), or the haphazard, absolutely out-of-nowhere fight between the "All-New, All-Different Avengers" and Steve Rogers' "Uncanny" Avengers (or the bizarre callback to St. Elsewhere that ties up this fight), this might be the drop in quality I've seen for a Big Two event book in quite some time. It's clear that Nick Spencer, the architect of this event, has some idea of what makes a place like Pleasant Hill interesting, but there's none of that same enthusiasm displayed here by Waid - and that kind of disconnect does not bode well for this event as a whole.
While Andy Kubert is the bigger name attached to this book, it's already apparent that Mahmud Asrar is a much more consistent artist, and you can't help but think that once this issue devolves into basically mindless fisticuffs. If you're going to go to the trouble of putting two super-teams in the same place, you'd think you'd give yourself enough room to actually showcase everyone - but in particular, Kubert squanders some prime double-page real estate, with action such as Miles Morales webbing up Maria Hill being almost unnoticeable, with only one panel of the Human Torch actually having enough space to land any impact. And that's compounded by some setup that is - and I hate saying this about a writer who is ordinarily this talented - total nonsense. Why would these heroes actually get into a fight? And why would anyone let a line like "Dueling Marias, sudden weather, and some sort of wall in the air!" make it to print, let alone in the tiniest of panels?
Juggling a super-team can't be easy, and neither can be taking the baton on a major comic book event - but given the names attached to this book, I'm kind of shocked that the ball was dropped this badly. There are some truly great moments to All-New All-Different Avengers, but you can't help but feel like the by-the-numbers execution for much of this issue doesn't feel like some sort of protest. Perhaps it's a matter of a light script being completely handicapped by inconsistent artwork - or maybe it's just a rare but total misfire from a pair of typically reliable A-listers. Either way, this type of output does not feel like the Pleasant Hill this book should be dying on.