The Avengers #35
Story: Jason Aaron
Art: Javier Garron
Colors: Jason Keith
THE AGE OF KHONSHU! An empowered, godlike Moon Knight has just saved the world from fiery ruin. Now an army of mummies and moon priests begins to reshape the world in the image of ancient Egypt. But where does that leave the Avengers? Broken, imprisoned - or on the run in the moonlit streets of New Thebes City.
It’d be simple to look at this story line as nothing more than Avengers vs Mummies. It sounds ludicrous, but somehow Aaron makes the comic work. There are moments that are just stupid fun. The team fighting zombie mummies on a train. It happens. It’s as silly as it sounds. But while the action is over the top it fits the supernatural theme of this arc.
Moon Knight has traditionally been a character that writers have focused on the mental health aspect of, Marc Spector has multiple personalities that he used to fight crime, but Aaron has taken a different approach and amped up the connection that Moon Knight has with his lunar god Khonshu. By taking the plot and examining the Egyptian God, Aaron has instantly placed the character into a new power class. Moony goes from a street level vigilante to now a character that has taken Mjolnir from the hands of Thor, went toe to toe with Mephisto, and stolen the spirit of vengeance from Ghost Rider!
This new classification of power plays as a serious threat to the team. This has the stakes of a cosmic battle as the team struggles to regroup. It might be laughable to see Captain America and Blade fighting generic mummies, but the threat of the world falling to a power hungry God is an enemy that’s big enough it warrants the involvement of the entire line up; which you can’t always say about the Avengers.
What really shines here is the motivation for Khonshu. The moon god is a paranoid and jealous diety that feels slighted by the other old beings of power in the Marvel universe and wants its moment of recognition; yet the God is also acting to keep the world from falling into the hands of the devil, Mephisto. So are Khonshu’s actions justified if all of the pain and suffering are to stop a greater evil?
The action doesn’t stop in this title. It’s an action comic and Marvel put the art chores in the right hands by letting Garron work his magic. The page layouts are perfect. The art style falls between Steve McNiven and Ed McGuiness. There are panels where the anatomy is exaggerated to the point of being cartoony; yet other panels have a more detailed look. But the comic as a whole looks fantastic. The one thing that really stands out with Garron is the panel layout. The pages and poses make the book read as fast as the plot and keeps pace with the action. That’s a rare talent that is often overlooked and never commented on. Garron is using all of his artistic storytelling tools here and the comic benefits from his skill.
There was one major mistake made by the production side. Normally I don’t pay too much attention to lettering. It’s a thankless job. When it’s done well the reader doesn’t even notice it, but here there was a page that stood out. During an exchange between Khonshu and his followers the speech bubbles read from right to left. This backwards set up was so noticeable that I had to stop and go back to read the text in the right order. Once, I would let slide, but the same thing happens again on the same page in the following panel. This start/stop to the comic was enough to get my attention and was confusing. A small thing in the scheme of things, but a mistake big enough to take away from the enjoyment of the book.
Aaron does make a few slip ups. There are moments of interaction between team members that read as a forced and stilted. While there is an attempt at witty banter between team members, it comes off as failed set ups to a joke that doesn’t land. Blade makes fun of Cap’s age. There is a joke about how Blade can smell mummies on a train. She-Hulk thinks about how bad the Knicks are as a basketball team to force herself to get angry enough to morph into her hulk-form… it’s silly, it’s corny, it doesn’t help the book stay on message about how serious of a threat the big villain is. When the attention of the book switches to Moon Knight and Khonshu the comic gets better.
There are a ton of little moments here to enjoy. Some readers will look at this arc and roll their eyes because of the concept. Again, it would be easy to call this Avengers vs Mummies; but the comic is a lot better than that. Watching Khonshu struggle with his motivations for domination, Tony struggle with the concept of fatherhood, watching Cap take on the mantle of leadership again after the character went through the wringer during Secret Empire. This is just a solid installment of the Avengers being superheroes and a great throw back to team books in general.
While this comic isn’t the next great story, it is a good time. For those of you needing a good escape this is a decent thrill ride.