Avengers: The Children’s Crusade

There’s very few Marvel stories that rarely get me excited every time I pick up a new issue. This is even truer when it comes to books released on a bi-monthly schedule. I mean, who remembers what happened two months ago?

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade has been an on-going story mixed with incredible drama, high-action, and brilliant art. To top it all off, it drastically has an effect on the Marvel Universe – despite it being considered only a mini-event.

Each issue has me begging for more. With each issue that goes by, I have no idea how the series could conclude. Indeed, this series should have been marketed much stronger by Marvel.

Avengers Children's Crusade

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7 of 9
Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (pencils, cover), Mark Morales, John Livesay, Dexter Vines, & Jim Cheung (inks), Justin Ponsor (colours, cover), Cory Petit (letters). $3.99

Concluding last issue, Wanda restores the powers of the mutant Rictor from X-Factor – showing that she can reverse all of the effects done by her on M-Day. But of course, arriving on the scene, The Avengers, Magneto and the X-Men have their particular opinions to what should happen with Wanda. The Avengers want her back to normal, while Magneto wants her to herself. Surprisingly, Cyclops acts the most irrational of the bunch and demands justice for the damage she has caused.

Heinberg leaves the reader to quietly debate who has the most reasonable argument for what to do with Wanda. But for the first time in the series, we finally get to hear Wanda’s voice and her opinions. With so many voices in the story from various characters, you never feel confused on who’s who. Unlike particular Avengers books where voices become jumbled in the crowd (ie. Spider-Man & Hawkeye, Spider-Woman & Ms. Marvel), everyone in TCC has their unique personality – and it shows.

The story certainly takes a turn however, when Doctor Doom is thrown into the mix. A bit of background is finally given to “How Wanda ended up with Doom after M-Day” and it actually makes sense. To top it off, the tension in the last few pages between the Young Avengers and Doom will absolutely knock your socks off.

What else could I say about Jim Cheung’s art? He gets two months to work on this book and it shows. The intense detail given to each individual, the clarity to backgrounds, the pages with over ten different characters on it – all looks effortlessly immaculate. While my eye is not trained to identify inkers, it can be seen when they are changed in the artwork. All of it is tastefully done when involving a scenery change. As for Ponsor, never have I loved the colour pink or red so much as I have in these stories.

My only quibbles are with minute details: Cyclops acts nothing like how he would in an X-book and comes off rather ridiculous – even striking Captain America first. Of course, the other issue is Rogue’s bizarre costume-style which madam Kelly Thompson has already discussed on her blog.

It’s a shame that this series is ending in two more issues. The bigger shame is that it will still take four months to conclude.

Grade: 8.5/10

As a side note, you can see Rictor with his powers now in X-Factor #225 which was released today. If anything, this is a pretty big tip to help us figure out when The Children’s Crusade actually takes place in the Marvel Universe. (We’re not in X-Men Schism territory yet).

Speaking of Schism, please pick up X-Men: Schism #4 by Jason Aaron and the legendary Alan Davis.

X-Men Schism 4

After the Schism Preludes and three semi-lull issues of Schism itself, we finally have it: If there was any book to explain what splits the X-Men apart, THIS is it. Get on board and watch the X-Men split apart.

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Wednesday’s Reviews

I really hope everyone had a great holiday and New Years!

As for what’s new here, there will be a bit of a format change for how reviews will be done – meaning, how I review them will shorten up. By doing so, I’ll focus on key points on the book, but also do more reviews in a posting. It’s win-win, in my eyes.

Childrens Crusade

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 of 9
Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mike Morales & Jim Cheung (inker), Justin Ponsor (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor (cover). $3.99

The continuing saga of the Children’s Crusade moves forward as the hunt for the Scarlet Witch – somewhat – comes to a conclusion. Wiccan finds Wanda to discover that she does not remember anything about her past or who she was. Oh, and that she’s going to marry Dr. Doom the next day. With the both the Avengers and Young Avengers storming Latveria, an all-scale assault begins to bring Wanda Home.

Allan Heinberg is constantly kicking all other mini-stories butt with this title. Rich developments still come from each character, despite the massive cast in this story, brings this title to stand above all other Avenger’s titles. Tossing in Jim Cheung, Mark Marales, and Justin Ponsor as artist, inker, and colourist, multiple page spreads of action and wonder of Latveria generates a jaw-dropping gaze on each page. I’m still saddened that this is just a limited series, and is only out bi-monthly. Easily the best pick of the week.

Grade: 9/10

Avengers Prime

Avengers Prime #5 of 5
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alan Davis (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker) Javier Rodriguez (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters & production), Davis, Farmer & Rodriguez (cover). $3.99

The conclusion to the post-Siege Avengers mini comes to an end! The big three, Steve Rogers, Iron Man and Thor are trapped in a different dimension due to Hela and her Twilight Sword. After the multiple issues of build-up, the final battle begins with the big three, the Enchantress, and their army, versus Hela’s demon army. Unfortunately, despite its bi-monthly release schedule, no exciting conclusions were found by the end of the book – leaving the reader to ask, “why did this take so long to finish?”

Despite a great start to the series, the story began to dwindle down with real means of characterization. The first issue dealt with how the big three felt about each other and Siege – but all seemed forgotten until the final pages of the last book – making the story seem tacked on by the end. Davis’ brilliant spreads however, picked the book up from a “forget about it” to a “not that bad,” status. With Rodriguez’s bright, majestic colours on each page, the book literally shone with each turn of the page. Unfortunately, the conclusion of this book made the story not worth the wait as the story is arguably forgettable.

Grade: 6/10

Generation Hope

Generation Hope #3
Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin & Scott Koblish (penciler), Jim Charalampidis (colours), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters), Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales & Chris Sotomayor (cover). $2.99

Hope and her new mutants (not to be confused with New Mutants – capitalization is important here, people!), are in Tokyo with Cyclops, Wolverine and Rogue, battling a massive beast-mutant which is hell-bent on destroying everything for his “art.” (Yup). After a few different attack approaches, Hope comes up with a new plan to finally take the monster down and uses it to prove her “messiah” title to Cyclops.

Generation Hope has yet to really jump out at me. I mean, when I finished the book, I flipped to the cover to made sure I only spent $2.99 for it, because I do not feel like this is really happening. The book is too fast-paced with so little dialogue that I do not feel involved with these characters at all. I know Gillen can do better than this, and I’m waiting for him to show it. As for the art, individual characters really shine through. Hope versus the beast, for example, has some really great spreads of the two against each other. But that is really where the focus is. The backgrounds disappear in particular panels, while one panel with Cyclops’ visor suggests that he has eyes on his forehead. Rogue also looks like an anime high-schooler, but hey – to each their own.

Grade: 4/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!