Al Ewing (W), Luke Ross (A), Rachelle Rosenberg (CA)
Cover by: Luke Ross and Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Welcome to the second installment of “the B-List Defender talks about whatever,” where the opinions are random and the comics even more so. Today, we’re going to talk about Ewing and Ross’ Captain America and the Mighty Avengers.
This was a comic that was made up of two separate series, both iterations written by Al Ewing and focusing on the exact same characters. The first of which was just called the Mighty Avengers, the second was Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. The second was trying to spotlight the fact that Sam Wilson was on the team and now Captain America in the hopes of catching people’s eyes on the sales racks. It also succeeds at being a killer for anyone who has to type out the whole name in crummy internet reviews.
I loved both versions of this book. It starred Luke Cage and Sam Wilson, both of which are among my absolute favorite Marvel heroes. It got me more acquainted with and interested in Blue Marvel, Spectrum, Victor Alvarez, and White Tiger. All of these characters have become huge draws for me in a comic book.
The entire lineup consisted of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Sam Wilson, Blue Marvel, White Tiger, Power Man, Kaluu (a sorcerer that I was not privy to before this book), Spectrum, and She-Hulk. It also had Spider-Man and Blade for a time, but neither appeared in the later issues.
The writing was phenomenal, and the characters on the team had fantastic chemistry. The stories were always pretty weird, using villains as existential and Lovecraftian as The Beyond and Shuma-Gorath. It would also use very low-profile villains like Gideon Mace.
Greg Land was the first artist—and, well, if you know the controversy with him you’ll understand why he’s not exactly a popular artist. His art still mostly looks good, though. If you focus too hard, you’ll occasionally notice some odd things on the page.
From there, the art got a lot better with Valerio Schiti kicking things up a notch when he joined up, and his art was a definite improvement on the book. That being said, his art was also congruent enough with Land’s style that it didn’t cause a stylistic whiplash for anyone reading the book.
When Luke Ross took over though, the art became spectacular. He has a photorealistic style that is reminiscent of Mike Deodato Jr., another artist I thoroughly enjoy. He is very good at making distinct figures and expressive faces. His action scenes always look quite awesome.
The colors were always bright and eye-catching throughout. From D’Armata to Rosenberg, one could never be bored looking at the page. They did a solid job on this series, and it really helped the fun, upbeat feel of the book.
Fun and optimistic are the best words to describe this series. One of the main ideas of the comic was that anyone could be an Avengers. Simply helping out a neighbor could make one on par with heroes like Captain America and Spider-Man. The team had a hotline that would answer any distress calls, so the Mighty Avengers could help out the little guy while the other Avengers team fight massive threats. I always dig that kind of thing, I’m a huge fan of street-level heroes, and, despite heroes as powerful as Blue Marvel and Spectrum being on the team, it always felt like a street-level book.
The reason I specified the ninth issue in the title is because it was my favorite issue of the series. That’s saying a lot, because every issue in this book was phenomenal. This issue was definitely the one that surprised me the most, and it is the most memorable.
It was also the last issue of the book.
It was a Last Days tie-in to Marvel’s big Secret Wars event of that year. Of all of such tie-ins, it was the one that really captured the idea of the world ending. Every character knows, deep down, that it’s going to happen, but they try their best to keep moving. Everyone tries to stay positive, but it’s heartbreaking because, as a reader, you know that this is it. The two Earths are going to collide, and everything will end.
It opens with Luke Cage and Jessica Jones dealing with the fact that (Superior) Tony Stark is forcing them to stop using the Avengers title. They share a sweet moment with Danielle and Dave Griffith, one of their phone operators, where they in unison call Tony Stark a “poopy-head” to keep it G-rated for little Danielle Cage. It’s a nice little moment to bring some levity to the heavy events. Then Cage has to answer the call when all of the heroes have to face off against the forces of the Ultimate Earth.
From here, we see Spectrum mull over the idea of destroying the other Earth by flying at it at light speed in her hard light form. She concludes that there is no other way. However, when she is about to execute this plan, she hesitates when she sees children and how similar this Earth is to their own. This hesitation allows for Ultimate Reed Richards, aka the Maker, to subdue her in an opaque prison.
The funny thing is, the most memorable and emotionally resonant moments of the comic don’t even involve the heroes themselves. The following scene takes place at the Mighty Avengers hotline with Dave Griffith and another operator, Soraya. Soraya is about to leave to go be with her family, while Dave is continuing to on the phone. Dave is insistent on not accepting the end until it actually happens. Right as Soraya is about to go, her line rings again. She decides that she can’t let it ring, and answers. The caller is afraid of dying alone, and Soraya decides to stay on the line for as long as he needs.
Next, the comic goes through multiple scenes of the rest of the team: Sam fighting, Luke Cage and Iron Fist saving civilians, Power Man going home to his family, White Tiger protecting an old couple from thugs, Kaluu visiting Wong, Blue Marvel still trying to find a way to save everyone with his son, and Jessica Jones working at a disaster shelter.
The final scene is “you” waking up in a hospital. The attending doctor found a Mighty Avengers ID card on you and tells you that you were saved by the Avengers while you were helping kids evacuate a collapsing school. He shows you his own ID card and begins talking about how here, at the end, you and he counted. You both helped people. He then directs you to look at the coming end out the window, and the comic ends with the end of the world.
I gave you a point-by-point of this comic, but I know I didn’t capture just how moving this comic is to read. If I had been reviewing when this comic first came out, I would have easily given a 10 out of 10. It’s a beautiful read, and it shows the power of a good writer, good artists, and good characters.
I guess my point is, give this series a read if you find the TPB’s. It’s really good, and it gets my full recommendation.
Also, you should check out Al Ewing’s Ultimates title, which is running right now. It may actually be even better (despite its lack of Luke Cage).
So, I hope you enjoyed my sort-of review of this series and single issue. Until next time, keep reading comics!
Barely Retro Review #1: Hulk of Arabia
Barely Retro Review #3: Magneto #17
Review of Ultimates #7