on 23 July 2011
This is the second volume in what is fast becoming my favourite Avengers team in many years. The story concerns the darker histories of some of the characters, namely Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, and our very own team leader, Steve Rogers.
The ressurection of Shang Chi's father, Fu Manchu (whose real name is finally revealed later in the story)is the first plot line, with the Shadow Council in full flow, bringing back one of my all time favourite villains from fiction, and also breathing new life into one of my teenage years heroes.
There is action aplenty for those who like the all-fighting storylines, with Steve Rogers even having a sparring session with Shang Chi, which is rather short, and to my mind, rather one-dimensional, but that's Marvel for you - you can't have Steve Rogers getting beaten by a good guy, now, can you?
The second story arc concerns a figure from Steve Rogers' escapades during World War 2, which brings him into contact in the present day with the first Super Soldier, a man who fought in the Civil War, World War 1 & World War 2.
This character even manages to take down Steve Rogers in hand-to-hand combat, something which I admit I cheered about, being quite tired of how Mr Rogers is seemingly able to take down any and all comers, super-powered or not.
Quite refreshing, that particular bout of conflict.
Although he is somewhat saved by the erstwhile Valkyrie, who vanquishes the bad guy quite well, and although he's bullet proof, isn't a match for a sword crafted by Odin, it seems.
Valkyrie has one of the best one-liner remarks to counter the villains surprised reaction to her sword being put to full use for once (normally she only uses the flat of her blade, but here she uses it as it was meant to be used).
This series is rather more mature than the previous Avengers titles, dealing with many conflicts among the main characters as well as within themselves, and the writing is superb, the art spectacular, and the pace rolls along at a healthy rate, which actually does leave its readers wanting more after the last page has been turned.
I am along for the ride with this series (despite Nova no longer being on the team since the Thanos Imperative story in another title), and am enjoying it thoroughly for someone who has an inate dislike of Steve Rogers in the first place.
For my own personal taste, I'd like to see more use of the other team members (such as Beast/Moon Knight/Carol Anders/Ant Man), rather than the usual focus on Steve Rogers/Black Widow as the ones who carry the day.
Yes, Steve Rogers was Captain America, and has super-powered strength and exceptional training/experience, but it'd be nice if he took a background role to the others for once, and let them show their mettle in both combat and intelligence roles, and not have to play second-fiddle to their team leader all the time.
Apart from that little gripe, I love this series, and can't wait to see how things go from here, especially if they take the King of Orphans character onboard as a team member, as he adds a good sense of mystery and usable powers to the team.