Issue(s): Avengers #349
The Black Knight says that the skycraft malfunctioning shouldn't have happened, because it was designed by the Black Panther, but, uh, this isn't the first time that something like this has happened. At least this time there is an immediate explanation for hit. It's confirmed that the skycar has been tampered with; Black Knight suspects that the sabotage is related to the impostor Swordsman.
While the Black Knight is inspecting the ship, we get the latest in the romance subplot between Crystal and BK.
The villains of this issue are actually Ares and Hera.
Ares is apparently still stewing over Zeus' acceptance of Hercules as a god, and he convinces Hera to join him in a contest to see who can cause Hercules the most sorrow. So when the Avengers go to a charity event, visiting children at a hospital, Ares possesses Thor, "a mere mortal who through a fluke of fate has been given the powers of the true God of Thunder" (or, er, "a" true God of Thunder. Sorry dad.).
So it's a Thor/Hercules fight for a good portion of the issue, but Ares gives away the game by referring to Hercules as Herakles. I had been wondering about Ares' ability to "hold" Mjolnir, since he isn't exactly worthy, but that turns out to be a plot point that ends the fight. Hercules, with an assist from Crystal, manages to cause Mjolnir to summon lightning.
The blast hurts both of them, but it separates Ares from Thor...
...and Ares and Hera flee.
I assumed this would get the Avengers disinvited from any future charity events, but Hercules actually ends up earning the affection of Taylor Madison, a volunteer at the hospital.
Madison actually works into whatever Hera's plans are for her side of the wager with Ares.
I continue to like the Epting/Palmer art, and i think what Bob Harras is trying to do with this book is at least interesting. After a long time of interrupted runs and/or pure adventure stories, Harras is at least trying to put an emphasis on character development for the first time in a while. I suspect this comes from having seen what worked on the X-titles. But Harras' character development is almost exclusively soapy romance stuff. I don't think the angst between Black Knight and Crystal is all that interesting, and giving Hercules a non-powered human love interest doesn't seem very promising. Ultimately i don't think Harras has the writing skills to really pull this off, but i do think what he's attempting here is noteworthy.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Black Knight says that they've spent "days" searching the apartment that the 616-Magdalene disappeared in last issue. Presumably they weren't literally in the apartment for days without break (despite Dane's stubble), and it should be ok for them to appear elsewhere between issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAres, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Widow, Crystal, Hera, Hercules, Taylor Madison, Thunderstrike, Vision
I'm a big fan of Harras' AVENGERS run. You're right that it's soapy and very X-inspired, but coming to it from the X-Men, that's what got me hooked. From there, I dug into the team's history and gained a greater appreciation of the series as a whole, but it was those initial soap operatics that really lured me in (which, I assume, was Harras' intent).
Of course, the Epting/Palmer art helped too. Still one of my all time favorite art teams (along with Buscema and Palmer; plus, I definitely get a Roger Stern vibe, the focus on characterization, from the Harras run).
Posted by: Austin Gorton | March 9, 2016 12:52 PM
Looking at this in comparison with the Assault on Olympus storyline, it's clear that while the writing isn't great, the artwork is very comparable to what Buscema was doing then. And to hold up well against Buscema is a great compliment.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 8, 2016 11:29 AM
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