The Avengers #7, written by Mark Waid and Jeremy Whitley, gives an interesting change of pace from the high-octane, blockbuster that has come before. This issue is more character driven, with the focus less on what is going on around the team and more on what is going on within it. More than earlier issues, the reader really feels the age difference between The Wasp and the other members of the Avengers. The result is a fairly lighthearted issue that gives somewhat of a breather after the over-the-top action of the last.
So far in Waid’s Avengers, the focus has been on a small, tight-knit group of heroes. Waid has succeeded in making his book feel like classic Avengers despite not having many of the iconic Avengers team members by either having a legacy character in the place of a classic character (such as Thor and Captain America) and inserting Spider-Man into the role of Iron Man without giving him the name Iron Man. Only Vision remains in both his classic iteration and role within the team. This issue shakes it up by adding in one of the other legacy characters in the mix, the Infamous Iron Man, better known as Doctor Doom.
Whenever a new person joins any team or group, the dynamics within that group shift. Through the work on the characters thus far in the series, we have a fairly clear idea of how the existing team members interact with one another, some of which are highlighted early in this issue: some playful competition between Hercules and Thor, some inexplicable hostility from Wasp towards Spider-Man, despite her otherwise pleasantness. Adding a new element causes a new chemical reaction. Any story or book will benefit from the addition of Victor von Doom, who is in my estimation one of the most compelling characters in the whole of the Marvel pantheon. He was always more complex than just a mere villain, and his face turn in the pages of Iron Man has been one of the more interesting offerings of the All New, All Different Era. A common trope within comics is to create tension between practitioners of science and magic, but Doom’s love of knowledge compels him to master both. His introduction allows the story to explore more mystical ideas along with the science fiction elements of the last arc.
More importantly, Doom introduces an element of suspicion to the team. Outside of a few lighthearted examples, this Avengers team came out of the gate as a functional team, eschewing the initial fight that typically precedes a superhero team’s formation. Instead of introducing the conflicts within the team in the first arc and then exploring how the team works together against a big threat in the second, Waid and Whitley seem to have inverted the order. In the first arc, the team’s threat was external; here the initial threat is resolved by the end of the issue, but what Doom introduces to this team is a potential internal threat to the Avengers. The dynamic within the team, particularly Wasp’s adoration of Doom, could prove interesting depending on when and if Marvel decides to move Doom back to his villainous roots. As of now, Doom appears repentant, less like the villain playing the part of the hero as the Superior Spider-Man did.
Phil Noto’s art provides quite the stylistic break from Mike del Mundo without too much of a drop in quality. After the psychedelics of del Mundo, Noto’s art makes the story feel more grounded. I’m used to his pastel style paired with a book like his Black Widow run, so he seems like a bit of an odd fit here. Noto’s art is more accessible than del Mundo’s in that the latter’s art is sometimes hard to follow while the former is much more streamlined. The switch from del Mundo to Noto in this arc seems to fit with a story where the threats are less about bombastic time travelers and more internal and character based. Noto’s capacity for rendering character’s faces especially fits that narrative emphasis, though at times the characters seem somewhat static.
While the big ideas that characterized the first arc are still present (the main threat involves something like a seance at a summer camp), the more interesting story here is how the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will react to Doctor Doom now being among them. The story itself feels inconsequential, though it does provide a bit of a breather after the culmination of a six-issue arc. The story ends with a nice callback to the ending of the last issue, providing both a nice jumping on point while deepening the mysteries that came before. Avengers continues to be a fun ride, and the new addition of the Infamous Iron Man should make for a combustible concoction.
Avengers #7 is a fun, if inconsequential, breather issue after the epic first arc. The addition of the Infamous Iron Man should lead to some interesting team dynamics in issues to come.