I was already loving the new direction that this book was taking before this issue even happened and after this all I can say is…AWESOME! I’m a huge fan of the Avengers West Coast so I was thrilled when they brought us back to the old compound and even added Hawkeye to the faculty to give it a real AWC feel, but the one thing I wasn’t feeling was all the extraneous character that were supposed to be coming and going. Well, this issue took care of that plus a few of the other issues (albeit minor ones that is). I see this book taking the momentum that it has been building and going forward in directions that we can’t even guess about yet!
First of all, thank god we’re seeing Veil again! When she first left the team, I honestly thought it was a big set-up. I honestly thought that she was leaving but that we were still going to be following her in the pages of this title and watching while she spied on Jeremy Briggs…but then she disappeared. I mean, we saw her in the future flashes with the older versions of the team (minus Lightspeed and White Tiger by the way...) but she was the character with the most depth and room to grow, I felt, and she just appeared from the present timeline story. Now not only is she back, but she brought the Initiative kids (who we haven’t seen since Fear Itself) with her AND Jocasta, returned from faking her own death. What I didn’t count on was her coming back to steal students from the Academy with Jocasta and try to shut the school down. I mean clearly Jeremy is up to something shady, but what is she thinking? Even if she doesn’t agree with some of the decisions that come with being an Avenger, where would she be without the Academy? Slowly discorporating with no idea it was happening or any clue how to stop it, that’s where!
And as for Jocasta…talk about an ungrateful piece of scrap metal! I have no idea if she’s under Ultron’s control or not, but for a being that thinks she’s so highly evolved she has become one of the most contemptuous and abrasive robots ever. “I am not here to fight, but to disable the technology that I installed. In other words, all of it.” Last I checked that equipment was created in an Avengers lab, using Avengers supplies that were bought with Avengers funding. So where does she get the right to just take (or some might say steal) it from them? All while basically telling the students of this school that if they stay there they will not only die but ruin the world. I agree with Hawkeye’s assessment that she has been “drinking Wonder Man’s Kool-aid”.
One great thing that happened is they deflated the slightly over inflated cast of the title. I loved when they moved to the Costa Verde compound (or I guess it’s campus now) and made it into a real school for Avengers. What I wasn’t really feeling was all the extra characters that came with it, especially the ones that we never even saw. It was great that they added Hawkeye, Lightspeed, and White Tiger to the cast but then we had Butterball, Batwing, Lyra, Power Man, Rocket Racer, Ricochet, X-23, Turbo, Whiz-Kid, Hollow, and Machine Teen and Rover all joining the campus on some sort of part-time basis. Why? So they had a huge cast to draw on whenever they conveniently needed someone to fill a particular power requirement for a story? Most of these characters have been seen only once or twice in the background of an outdoor or group scene so why bother bringing them in at all? More importantly, why bring them in if you are going to have someone else take them away in a few issues (before even properly showing any of them on-panel)? And the ones who don’t leave, are they going to continue to barely be background characters or will they actually become part of them team (which will swell the cast size to be way too much. They should have just left the cast as is and added the one or two characters that they actually had plans for.
These big issues aside, the issue had a few other great moments. Veil’s reaction to Striker telling her that he’s gay was priceless: “Well, duh”, Hank’s impassioned speech about what the Avengers mean to him (which was interesting considering the mental health and personal problems his association with the team has brought), and Haz-mat choosing at the last second to stay at the Academy with Mettle were just a few of the great smaller moments in this issue. However, the crux of the entire issue was the reveal on the last page: Hank Pym (20 years later) is the mastermind behind the future versions of the Academy. What is that plan? We still don’t know, but with every single issue I wonder more and more what the hell happened to their future that’s making them go to such lengths to ensure it happens their way. Here’s to yet another stellar issue from this creative team and I can’t wait to see where they are going with this future storyline.