This book...this book...I thought it was going one way, it went another, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I thought we were going to get some expert monster hunting and traps along the way, but what Rick Remender instead delivers is one of the most piercing, hilarious satires that the industry has seen since Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E, though this one is much more a commentary on the modern rather than the past. Or is it??? This issue makes me want to give it one star just to show it who’s boss, but...then I’d be playing right into its hands! If this all sounds baffling, trust me, it’s all within the themes and tone of this book which takes a break from the brutally grim Avenging Earth storyline and takes us to a place where Mojo is simply struggling to pull in some ratings. So, of course, what’s hot right now? Supernatural teen drama. And the Avengers. So Mojo finds a way to combine the two and the results are...magical, to make a tired pun. Remender has written an issue that encapsulates and mocks so much: from media being intentionally obtuse with zero payoff (as long as viewers remain LOST and confused) to the reviewers who are too scared to admit they have NO CLUE what’s going on and over-analyze every screen grab for “clues” that may or may not exist. The book only gets away with it by being both hilarious and never truly mean-spirited about it. He tells the truth, but he’s never cruel.
Paul Renaud handles art from top-to-bottom and does a great job most all of the time, especially considering that he does it all. He has to redraw and reimagine these characters into some fairly bizarre forms, and both are equally compelling. I really can’t say enough but to mention the words “Geek Blade” and let your imaginations wander from there. The action is solid, but not really the highlight, the characters and their interactions are the highlight, and Renaud nails their body language perfectly.
There’s a comedic device called “hanging a lantern on it.” This occurs when the characters/writing of a thing point out the absurdity or unlikeliness of events occuring, thus drawing attention to and acknowledging them. This issue is essentially a protracted exercise in that, and it works almost all the time, but the issue itself admits to meaning nothing and going nowhere.
This is still an annual and, rather than being a jumping-on point, this annual decides to fly the opposite direction and go completely mad. We get to see the roster we’ve come to know and love as well as a whole new Avengers group that may be a one-off, but I for one would love to see more of (even if it’s literally the least marketable group ever assembled). This book is, ultimately, a hilarious and, at times, frighteningly accurate satire of both the comic book industry and media in general, as well as the media surrounding the media and...if I keep going on like this, am I play INTO its narrative, or am I hanging a lantern on it?