Age of Heroes #3

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kevin Grevioux, with Fred Van Lente and Dan Slott
Penciled by Brad Walker and M.C. Wyman, with Jefte Palo and Ty Templeton
Inked by Walden Wong and Victor Olazaba, with Jefte Palo and Ty Templeton
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Age of Heroes is a slightly strange mini-series. When Marvel has a new "era" to introduce, they’re prone to releasing an anthology mini-series to tie into the latest banner. With Age of Heroes, though, it’s been a strange mixture of original stories and pieces specifically designed to feed into new mini-series and ongoing series. It’s almost like getting a movie theatre full of trailers for upcoming movies, but you also have a couple of short films interspersed among them.

Age of Heroes #3 is probably the most successful issue to date, but even it has its problems. Fortunately it opens with the strongest piece in the book, a story starring the three liaisons for the different Avengers teams. It’s a simple but fun premise from Kelly Sue DeConnick, having the Absorbing Man attack Avengers Mansion with only Maria Hill, Victoria Hand, and Sharon Carter prepared to stop him. DeConnick brings the readers through an entertaining chase, and at the same time plays off the three women’s similarities and differences. This is probably the most interesting I’ve found Victoria Hand in particular, who finally has a reason for being slightly defensive when you see how Maria and Sharon treat her. (Victoria’s cold and stuffed-up-nose-accented dialogue are, for that matter, rather entertaining as well.) There’s even nice throwaway bits throughout the story, like the fact that with three Avengers teams there would have to be some sort of equipment-sharing deals going on to try and make everyone happy.

As an added bonus, Brad Walker and Walden Wong provide the art for the lead story, and having grown to love Walker’s art on Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s nice to see him here. Walker is one of the few superhero artists who makes their uniforms look like regular clothes, so having him draw a story where just about everyone is wearing normal clothes is a great fit. I like that he makes Victoria’s silk blouse look distinctly different from the more military-styled jacket of Maria, or Sharon’s full blown uniform. It’s an attractive looking story at the end of the day, and it definitely made the strongest impression on me.

Next up is a Blue Marvel story by Kevin Grevioux, M.C. Wyman, and Victor Olazaba, but unfortunately it does nothing to sell the idea to me of buying a comic starring this character. It seems the Blue Marvel has a secret lair at the bottom of the Mariana Trench and regularly has the Watcher show up and give him pep talks, and the two are on a first name basis. As an introduction to the character, it feels overblown and full of itself, taking on some of the characteristics of a Mary Sue character where this new one character has to somehow be better and more powerful than anyone else around him. If that’s not enough, the stilted dialogue between the Watcher and the Blue Marvel is painful, as if they’re reading off of teleprompters to one another and hoping a biographer is hanging around to write it all down. The rest of the story isn’t much better, and in some ways it feels more like a personal fan-fiction inserted into the back of a book from Marvel.

Age of Heroes #3 closes out with two short stories; a two-pager about the Taskmaster, and a one-page Squirrel Girl story. Fred Van Lente and Jefte Palo’s two pages barely have time to start before we’re told to read Taskmaster #1 in September; it doesn’t feel so much like a prologue as it does a two-page advertisement alerting readers to the fact that Taskmaster exists. It’s not bad, but it’s instantly forgettable. Palo’s art reminds me a bit of Duncan Rouleau’s, though, which is enough to make me want to take a look at the comic when it’s published. On the other hand, Dan Slott and Ty Templeton have fun with their one-page Squirrel Girl story, which probably has more plot than the Blue Marvel and Taskmaster stories combined. It’s a fun look at how they’ve been having her take out the heavy hitters of the Marvel Universe lately, and her relationship with the rest of the Great Lakes Avengers as a result. It’s short and sweet, but it’s a good way to round out the comic.

When everything’s said and done, I’d buy an Avengers Administrators mini-series in a heartbeat if it was by DeConnick and Walker, and Slott and Templeton make me hope there’s a new Great Lakes Avengers mini-series coming up soon as well. Only the Blue Marvel piece fails, and I do feel like I got my money’s worth. With this issue of Age of Heroes containing the least number of "teasers" so far, it’s probably my favorite issue. Less prologues and more original stories, please.

3 comments to Age of Heroes #3