Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review # 48: "Avengers - The Children's Crusade"

"The Children's Crusade" had every reason to succeed: it thrust the Young Avengers into a prominent role in what should have been a major arc - the redemption of Scarlet Witch. It brought back the original "Young Avengers" creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung to put it together. It has an All-Star cast: the Avengers, the X-Men, Magneto and Doctor Doom. And yet it falls flat.

The big problem - and I mean BIG problem - is while Heinberg's work with the Young Avengers was awesome and - to be fair - still is, he can't write for anyone outside the Avengers for s***. He manages to completely miss the mark on Magneto, Quicksilver, Doom, Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma, and many others. Their bodies are there, but they aren't speaking with their own voices and their actions are - in many cases - completely out of character. For example, Emma Frost would NOT try to force Wiccan and Speed into leaving with the X-Men using mind control right in front of Scott. Another example: verbal spars between Magneto and Quicksilver would not be mere hissyfits. Heinberg's worst offense: Scarlet Witch's former beau Wonder Man. He is uncharacteristically friendly after having a violent break-up with the Avengers, only mentioning his disliking of their reformation in passing. (Though, Brian Michael Bendis would soon throw that out the window as well.)

The presentation problems continue: there were at least three instances where I would have to flip back a page because the transition from panel to panel made no sense. Wanda's first appearance - which should be an important moment - comes out of nowhere. Art consistency issues abound. For example: Cassie Lang goes from being giant-size one page, to somehow being in the arms of the recently-returned Iron Lad in the next. This is explained away by Iron Lad saying he'll catch her. First of all, she's already in his arms. Second of all, why did Cassie shrink? Third of all, did her feet rise up to her head when she returned to normal size?

These problems pale in comparison to what is practically an insult of a plot and a ridiculous retcon. It's implied that Doctor Doom was somehow responsible for Wanda killing four Avengers (by the way: the death of one of them is erased here) and depowering most of the mutant population. I'm willing to chalk this up as a possible editorial issue because even Wanda herself seems to brush off that bulls***, as her descent into madness was the most interesting thing to ever happen to that character. Also, before you can comment on how Victor's ultimate scheme is ripped from the pages of "Secret Wars," Spider-Man mentions it himself! While it seems to be a cute bit of self-awareness, that's washed away by Doom saying he CAN'T do something that he DID do in "Secret Wars." Ugh.

Heinberg drops the ball completely. His writing of the central "Young Avengers" cast, Wanda and most of the Avengers is top notch, I will give him that. The rest is a joke. A complete joke. If you've read "Young Avengers" and nothing else, you might enjoy it. But if you've read "Avengers: Disassembled," "House of M" or "Secret Wars" (which a lot of people have), this is a slap in the face. Wanda's attempt at redemption and the Avengers' reaction are more well-depicted in "Avengers vs. X-Men" and the only truly important thing that happens is summed up with about 100 times the emotion in a single panel by Mike Allred in FF.

This should not have stunk, but it did. Heinberg has no business getting near most of these characters again.

What a disappointment.

Rating: 3.5/10

Up next: Daredevil stars in a prison drama under the pen of Ed Brubaker.

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