Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 review

Four books into this nine-issue series and the action is immense – two teams of Avengers, Dr Doom and Magneto, all battling for the heart and soul of Wanda Maximoff, heroine turned menace.

She’s not a menace when we meet her this issue. She’s just a Gypsy girl with no memory of her former life, about to wed the man she sees as her saviour – Victor Von Doom.

That can’t be good.

But Doom tells her supposed son, Wiccan, that he’s not out to exploit Wanda, he’s fallen for the now powerless amnesiac, and keeping her happy is in everyone’s interests … for who knows what will happen should she recover her mind, and her madness?

Writer Allan Heinberg does another fine job of keeping a lot of balls in the air, supplying plenty of action while slowly doling out answers as to what Wanda’s been up to for the last while, and asking us to guess where she’ll go next (hopefully to a closet seen in an issue of Avengers, where she seemed to have locked up Agatha Harkness). Inevitably, some of the heroes on display don’t get a moment to shine – some barely show up – but those that do make quite the impression.

That’s helped enormously by the power-packed artwork of penciller Jimmy Cheung, inker Mark Morales and colourist Justin Ponsor. They give us pages blazing with energies mystical and scientific, wielded by passionate heroes and villains in a storybook setting. Cheung gains extra points for making Wanda and Wiccan resemble one another, not a straightforward task.

They look alike, except one is a gorgeous European, the other uses fake tan

I have the merest quibble, one I’ve raised previously … the artists seem to have a real problem fitting the Young Avengers’ resident giant, Stature, into spreads. This issue she pops up mid fight scene looking as if she’s kneeling in a trench, massive, passive head on display. Actually, given that she’s dialogue-free, Stature might as quit the YA and join the Legion of Super-Heroes as Afterthought Lass.

As I said, though, it’s a moan of the tiniest kind. For The Children’s Crusade feels like an Avengers epic of old, a work by such masters as Thomas and Michelinie, Buscema and Byrne. And I can’t pay a higher compliment.

4 thoughts on “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 review

  1. I'm a late arrival on this book but it is indeed an excellent book similar to the Legion of Super-heroes, team books are very difficult to write well in my opinion and right now while The Avengers books are a decent read this particular book surpasses them as it genuinly has a heart. I did't know these characters all that well but after just two issues now I actually care a lot about them, nearly everybody who gets dialogue feels like a real person and that's something even Brian Bendis can't quite achieve, not to this particular level anyway. For Kudos go in particular to Wondermans treatment, he's not a star character in this story yet nowhere has Simon Williams been as accesable as here.

    In terms of art the book is fantastic, you point out how well Cheung put across Wiccan's resemblance to Wanda but we also got a version of Doctor Doom that rivals the greats like John Byrne's version, as to the story arc I am uncomfortable with the treatment of Wolverine here. What is the message being sent here? What is this executioner doing on an Avengers team that is now supposedly back to being respectable and highly principled?

    I think the central theme of the Quest for the Scarlet Witch is only going to pay off on an emotional level by the end of the series rather than a physical one. I don't think this is going to have a shot at redeeming her (though I wish it would) rather the intention is to explore Wiccan and The Avengers emotional response to her.
    That's more than enough to make this a very worthwile series in my opinion as Alan Heinberg's ability to write fully rounded and believable characters is extraordinary. If he only wries Comics as a part time job so be it, I'd rather have the occasional series like this than nothing at all. And I most certainly will make a bit of an effort to track down his previous Young Avengers work if I can…

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  2. Aw Dave. I've been telling myself this series is leading up to Wanda's redemption and repowering, but your speculation about the series being about emotion rather than power rings true. Too insightful by half!

    I'm delighted you're enjoying this book. I'm pretty sure all the Young Avengers stories are in trades, so let's hope you got some book tokens for Christmas.

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  3. I just want a “proper” Avengers book. You know: Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man and Wasp. Wolverine and Spidey are not, and never will be, Avengers.

    I was a huge Avengers fan, but these days I just can't…

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  4. Oh, I'm so with you. Having been told by Marvel for decades that Spidey isn't Avengers material, it's weird for them to turn around and contradict that. As for Wolverine, I don't even like him with the X-Men … I just don't buy this 'sensitive, honourable killer' bit.

    It's such a shame Mighty Avengers was killed off – it may not have had the original team members, but it certainly had what I consider a classic Avengers vibe.

    (And an aside to anyone but Allan, Allan runs the most fantastic blog, Gorilla Daze – click through on his name here, or Google!)

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