After a breathless, six-issue opening salvo, this Avengers team has settled in for the second of two one-and-done stories before tying into yet another summer comic event. Just last issue, Waid introduced a new variable into the team equation by adding Doctor Doom, now known as the Infamous Iron Man, into the team. In Avengers #8, we get to see some more of Doom with at least one member of the team, but very little time is spent there. Instead, this issue finally picks back up on a plot Mark Waid began with Barry Kitson began in their Avengers #1.POINT mini. That mini revisited the early days of the Avengers, retconning in the existence of a deadly villain named Avenger X. After leaving that thread alone for a brief time, Waid and company have picked it up again, if only for one issue, to bring this new character into the present.
The story begins in media res, giving the issue a feeling of dread that resembles a horror movie. Avenger X’s power set makes her like a kind of vampire, feeding off the energy of the Avengers. This story does not fill in much of the character’s back story. Avenger X, also known as Cressida, is a mutant with the ability to drain the life force of others, empowering herself and others. Vision summarizes her simply: she is a former villain from the early days of the Avengers. That is all the back story the readers receive and, for this purpose, perhaps all we need.
Artist Phil Noto once again makes for an excellent follow up to to Mike del Mundo’s more exaggerated, epic style. His characters have much more classic, realistic looks. His strength lies in his facial expressions, which here depict a whole range of emotions. His art has a retro look with soft pastel colors. It doesn’t always fit the tone of the story, but is always pleasant to look at and he is a great storyteller.
The interactions between Spider-Man and Wasp were amusing at first, with Wasp’s irrational hatred of Spidey. In this issue, it is a bit wearing and makes Wasp a bit more difficult to find sympathetic. Spider-Man, too, suffers a bit in his characterization here. Waid had so far utilized Spidey quite well in comparison to past Avengers writers, who often barely utilize him at all, except as the occasional comedy relief. Here, Spider-Man lets down his guard to a character who, first of all, had set off his spider-sense and secondly already attacked the Avengers. It’s the kind of idiocy that is driven by plot more than characterization.
Doctor Doom as the Infamous Iron Man continues to make for an interesting addition to the team. I hate that it doesn’t feel like a bigger deal to have Doctor Doom of all people on the Avengers, but it just doesn’t. The Marvel Universe is simply too out of sorts right now to have something like one of the company’s flagship villains on one of its flagship teams. With so much else unrecognizable about Marvel, having Doctor Doom on the Avengers seems like just one more thing. When he is on the page, however, he is a delight, almost to the detriment of other characters. The early issues of this volume did a great job of distributing the workload across this small team, but in the last two issues, the focus has been largely on Doom and Wasp.
The resolution of the story is so abrupt that I had to check the solicitation for next month to make sure that story did not continue on into “Secret Empire”. It does not appear to, although I cannot imagine Waid simply abandoning this character to her fate forever. After building her up over the course of a mini and then again in this issue, Avenger X appears to be a character Waid plans to revisit later, once he is out of “Secret Empire”’s shadow.
Avengers #8 is an issue that starts off strong but hits the brakes too fast. Given both the threat posed by the villain as well as the build up to introduce the character, the conclusion feels underwhelming. After a long opening arc, the series unfortunately had little time to integrate Doom into the team before “Secret Empire” interrupts its story. After the series’s fantastic initial six-issue arc, the last two issues have not quite lived up to the hype. We’ll see what “Secret Empire” holds for The Avengers, but I worry that going into an event will hardly be the best way to gain back any momentum.
Avengers #8 brings an interesting feeling of horror in this one-off story before the beginning of "Secret Empire". Unfortunately, the action ends as quickly as it begins, with some Avengers not coming off particularly well in the meantime.