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Avengers Academy #3

September 6, 2010

Title: Scared Straight Part One: Boyfriend in a Coma

Writer: Christos Gage
Mike McKone
Andrew Hennessy
Jeromy Cox
Joe Caramagna
Mike McKone
Bill Rosemann
Marvel Comics

The first class of the Avengers Academy has been assembled not because of their potential to be great heroes, but because the Avengers fear their potential to become villains. This issue, the kids are taken to the Raft maximum security prison in the hopes that they’ll get “scared straight” – but instead, some of them decide to use the opportunity to target the man who is responsible for making them what they are – Norman Osborn.

The crossover with Thunderbolts doesn’t really come into play until the end of the issue, though. Most of the issue focuses on Hazmat, her origin, and how her natural toxicity has forced her to live a life separate from the rest of the human race. It’s a sad life she’s forced to lead, but instead of thinking just about what a raw deal she got, you’re instead concerned that she’s going to use that raw deal as an excuse to turn bad. These kids are (mostly) brand-new characters, and each of them has the seed of villainy within them. Seeing one of them flip over to become a full-blown bad guy is far from impossible. Because of that, the reader’s reactions are confused. You can like a character and still be worried about becoming a fan of someone who, at any moment, has the potential to turn into a killer. That encourages a sort of restraint on the reader’s part that we aren’t used to, and it makes for a unique experience.

The “old school” Avengers also make for interesting characters here. Finesse’s unique relationship with Quicksilver is fodder for a lot of stories, and Speedball’s personal demons still haven’t been exorcised. It’s also nice to see other Avengers like Iron Fist, Luke Cake, and Valkyrie popping into this title as needed.

Mike McKone’s gorgeous artwork is another big plus for this book. His characters have unique styles and designs, the girls have realistic body types (especially considering the athleticism most of them display), and he sells the story through faces.

Out of the four new Avengers titles, this is the one that’s really won me over. It’s without a doubt the best of the bunch.

Rating: 8/10

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