Monday, August 24, 2015

Review # 173: "Avengers Assemble by Kurt Busiek Vol. 5"

"The Kang Dynasty" may be the most refreshing Kang story out there. After decades of complicated schemes where he tries to trap the Avengers in android bodies or marry Mantis or kill his counterparts from other universes, the Conquerer finally says "F*** it," blows up the United Nations building because he can, and sets all these armies he's always talking about on Earth in a global war.

And Kang wasn't kidding about being destined to rule the planet: he succeeds in his takeover attempt, destroying Washington in the process. "The Kang Dynasty" is less about a battle and more about an occupation. Kang has full dominion over the Earth, an original idea for the Avengers who spend volume five of "Avengers Assemble" by staging a resistance. Every available player from their corner of the Marvel Universe chips in, with splintered teams helping wherever they can.

Kurt Busiek gives this story a personal edge for the heroes, turning his attention to the characters he had spent a lot of time cultivating or giving new angles to. Carol Danvers kills a man in desperation in an arc that mirrors her first spotlight story during Busiek's time as writer, Wasp signs the final papers surrendering the planet and Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man see their romance blossom as they foster a resistance in a prison camp. Meanwhile, the motivations and actions of the libelous and underhanded Triune Understanding cult are finally revealed in Triathlon's finest hour. Well... Triathlon's only hour, to be honest.

If the greatest moment of Busiek's run was in "Ultron Unlimited," when Thor smashed through a wall and angrily uttered "Ultron, we would have words with thee," then second place has to go to Captain America's one-on-one confrontation with the conquerer. Kang uses his future technology to create a tangible holographic image of himself in space. It's imposing, until he turns around to discover Captain America has done the same thing. He calls Kang a "miserable jacked-up Tin Hitler" and it is ON! Sometimes there's nothing like a satisfying victory for the heroes, and this delivers in spades.

Really, I don't think anyone could ask for a better conclusion to what is - for my money - the greatest creative run in the history of "Avengers." There are brilliant callbacks to both stories and art from the first volume, which become a wonderful tribute to how far the book had come. Kurt Busiek left an incredible mark on the series. He produced the best Ultron story, the best Kang story and the best Hank Pym story. He incorporated a gargantuan amount of team history, bringing back scores of alumni with anyone's addition rarely out of place. He instigated likely the most well-executed roster shuffle I've seen, and - in his spare time with Roger Stern and Carlos Pacheco - wrote arguably the greatest Avengers story of all time.

I'm fresh out of great things to say.

Rating: 10/10

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