PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Avengers Academy #1

Training Day: Most of the first issue of Avengers Academy is dedicated to characterization, and how the team define themselves in relation to the founding Avengers

With the game of Musical Avengers well underway, will Avengers Academy make it to its adolescent years?

Avengers Academy #1

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Christos Gage
Contributors: Mike McKone (artist)
Publication date: 2010-07

While Secret Avengers may replace yet another adjective-laden title, Avengers Academy fills the gap vacated by Avengers: The Initiative. Trends will tell that this game of Musical Avengers will continue, and though this book will not likely make it to its adolescent years, it's certainly not treading dollar-bin territory. Maybe just the $1.50 bin.

This decade has seen an Avengers expansion, reminiscent of the vast amount of X-Books and Spider-Man titles rampant in the '90s, sporting various qualifiers and apt descriptors. A majority of these books may be difficult to justify, especially during events in which readers are given enough perspectives of the overall story to become historical scholars in the Marvel Universe. Luckily, for Marvel, the talent pool is full of writers like Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction and possibly 20 clones of Brian Michael Bendis to carry the weight.

The clever opening of Avengers Academy provides the plight of Madeline Berry, a high-schooler with a typically low self-esteem who discovers her powers amidst her embarrassment. Framed with her disappearing powers corresponding with her own wish to be invisible, it works well despite the initial conflict ripped straight from the diary of Peter Parker. Berry is then shown being approached and manipulated by Norman Osborne. Apparently, Osborne was even busier than thought as he was doing enough to not only appear in a majority of books in the past couple years but also secured his place as the go-to flashback villain. Today, she is being told by Hank Pym that she is slowly dying, though she is told by Pym that she can trust him to save her. Thank you, guy who created Ultron and inspired comic book's most famous domestic violence case.

On the surface, it appears like any Avengers-in-training book, with the faculty featuring the likes of Pym, Justice, Quicksilver, Tigra (a character who historically serves as the foil to fun) and Speedball. They have a secret about their students, and give each other enough stern looks to imply that it's a big one. By the end of the book, readers find a twist that will have everyone talking... mostly about how it's not as good as the Thunderbolts #1 twist. Scribe Christos Gage and recent Fantastic Four artist Mike McKone did not entirely fail with this issue. Some of the relationships are certainly interesting, and some surprising developments surely inspire fascination. In theory, the issue does exactly what it was supposed to do: set up a new series that differs from other “superhero school” tales.

The main issue is that a majority of the students at Avengers Academy suffer a collective Shakespearean tragic flaw: lameness. For those who possess the better costuming, the personality entry reads “Insert Text Here.” The other aspiring heroes, the ones with any sign of development, are victims of the Hank Pym School for the Aesthetically Deficient. Never trust a guy who would actually revert back to those retro Yellowjacket threads. The cast of students is rounded out by our inner-monologued protagonist Veil (who complains about physical attributes that never made it to the Art Desk), Striker (the typical dude-with-a-'tude with lightning powers), Mettle (looking like a young Red Skull with a metal body and a T-shirt), Hazmat (the angry middle sister of the group who literally emits radiation and poison), Reptil (the dinosaur changeling who I'm pretty sure I created in third grade) and Finesse (Lady Bullseye with a different set of annoying traits).

Finesse, during a training session, is able to read the lips of their debating instructors enough to know something secretive is up. The group decides to investigate off-panel, ending with the most pulse-pounding finale of any comic called Avengers Academy. It's a set-up that at least garners intrigue, giving the second issue the chance to secure readership and right the wrongs of the arc's beginnings. What the book truly succeeds in is at least providing something different for an Avengers tale. Despite the glaring flaws, it does not recycle the formula for the typical coming-of-age, young gun romp. The book's twist actually saves the story, coercing relevance in the Marvel Universe with blunt and awkward force. Tony Stark may compare the book to a hard liquor, hoping it ages like wine. Readers may be far less cynical, though, considering any new start to be far welcomed after the ominous and trudging "Dark Reign" and "Siege" narratives invited fresh takes.

After all, it is the Heroic Age.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.