I was pleasantly surprised by this issue. I haven’t been following the series since its first couple of issues. I have no patience with the “The Scarlet Witch is so sorry for her crimes” storyline that just goes on and on. The early issues just seemed to be an extension of that, played out with Rogue as the voice of all the younger fanboys and fangirls who don’t understand that Wanda Maximoff was once a really good character, and that her downfall, like Jean Grey’s, had a lot more to do with male writers’ insecurity with powerful female characters than it did with those characters being inherently flawed.
I tend to pick comics by their authors these days, but I always flip through an issue that features a favorite character. So, though I’ve never read Jim Zub’s work, I was drawn by this issue which proudly proclaimed, “The Witch is back! Wanda made some covers of Secret Empire, but really had nothing to do in that plodding and over-written story. So her taking center stage would, indeed, be refreshing.
An initial flip through the book suggested just more Wanda/Rogue angst, but I’m glad I decided to grab it anyway.
One of the things I always loved about The Avengers was its pacing. Throughout its first 300 issues, the characters took time to have lives, as well as adventurous careers, and we saw them doing simple things like shopping, going on dates, sitting around the mansion shooting the shit and contemplating life. They felt like people. “Big Blazing Battle Issues” did not attract me. Stories where real lives were interrupted by cosmic events did.
Unfortunately, for decades now, the Avengers have largely been written to cater to the Big Blazing Battle Issue!!!! crowd. Way too much plot, way too little characterization, and, strangely, very little happening in any given issue. Even Mark Waid’s latest run on the main Avengers title has seemed prey to this.
But Zub, Izaakse and Bonvillain’s tale in this issue feels like a classic story from days gone by. Graviton shows up with a somewhat philosophical (if maniacal) plan, but first there’s time for the characters to pause and be people. And the anti-Wanda angst is there, but not overplayed. Indeed, the clash between Wanda and Rogue is organic, and reminiscent of the first time Graviton showed up, an issue which opened with the Vision and Wonder Man slugging it out because Vizh was dealing with jealousy for the first time in his synthetic life. Best of all, the art looks like comic-book art, and not the weird fusion of photo-realism and impressionism that’s been draining the life out of the characters in the main title.