Avengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick and a large cast of artists

Avengers: The Enemy WithinAvengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally. Holy crap am I tired of superheroes who get into trouble and somehow forget that they’re members of a team, – who whine and struggle and fail alone for issue after issue.

When you read a team book, one of them rushes into the room and declares, “Kong the Immortal Man-Gorilla just landed halfway around the earth! I saw him while I was picking up old pouch-infested uniforms in Bohemivaria, and thought you guys would want to know!” Because of course if you’re part of a team and something bigger than you happens, maybe you’d give self-preservation a chance?

I mean, the kinds of heroes who go in for team membership aren’t the arrogant dicks who think they can take on all comers. They’re the slightly less heroic types who hide behind the team tank when things go sideways. You think Hawkeye has been an Avenger forever because he likes the snacks cupboard?

So in a solo book like Captain Marvel, it’s awesome to see her get dragged into working with others. Smartly, DeConnick puts Carol in serious danger, and brings in single heroes – and then the whole damned Avengers – when shit gets tough.

Love the smartass touches, and that not every character suddenly breaks character and acts like they were raised in Boston.

And I seriously love that DeConnick puts in the effort to come up with a reason (timely or no) why he’s bothering to harass Carol. There’s a lot of cosmic coming into play here, and despite seeing the Guardians movie, I’m still not exactly in love with these larger-than-human threats and characters – but the story at least keeps most of it grounded in our own reality.

What’s that you say? New York is getting threatened by aliens again? Yeesh, not gonna lie – after the Man of Steel shit show where aliens wiped out most of “New York” and Supes didn’t even bother to save any innocent lives (plus that whole Avengers thing), I’m a little tired of seeing the big American city as the only thing that aliens think is worth destroying.

Good god people – look at our planet from deep space, and you might get a clue that there are hundreds of such targets, none of which should be less likely to attack by aliens who don’t recognize Manifest Destiny.

There’s a couple more disappointing aspects to this book:
(1) The pacing of this book never quite *takes*. I couldn’t get into the rhythm of the plot, and didn’t know whether it was introspective, ass-kicking action or emotionally touching. I think in part this has to do with…

(2) The art, which is absolutely all over the map – not just the rotating artists from issue to issue, but the jarring style variations within each issue. It’s a patchwork of new styles, and in an anthology of up-and-comers this might be something I’d seek out*. In an event book? It shakes loose the feeling of a continuous story, and makes it damned hard to keep focused.

(*Note: I generally avoid anthologies like they’re infested with anthrax, but for sake of argument just go with me, eh?)

(3) oh god, and the ridiculous Objectivist villain in the final issue. I really hope DeConnick is going somewhere artful with this, because in this book it seems like she’s setting up an obviously selfish, painfully emotionally stunted Randian – not that most aren’t exactly like that, but this is setting up a pretty easy target to take down, no? It might have more resonance to for one moment write her as if she has a legitimate point of view (as retarded as that sounds) and not quite so one-dimensionally Bond villain. It wouldn’t have felt more one-sided if the bitch had opened a silver dinner cover and started carving into roasted puppy.

I am still a huge KSDC fan, and I will continue to read everything I can find with Carol Danvers – DeConnick has honed a compelling and relatable cowboy out of Captain Marvel’s jumbled history. But lordy, please make the next book more focused.

View all my reviews

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