As the forces of Thanos continue to murder across New York, the Terrigen Mists descend on a suburban home, giving an ordinary person the gifts of an Inhuman. Avengers Wasp, Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch are trying to protect their city, when they come across a very confused, very naked giant. Can the heroes stop bickering long enough to unravel what’s happened to the poor guy’s wife?
Of course they can! Jan, Simon and Wanda are veteran heroes. While they have their differences – Jan is unimpressed by Simon’s current ‘I’m a pacifist’ attitude because it seems to translate as, ‘you punch ’em!’ – they never lose sight of the big picture: people need help. And because they’ve known one another all their adult lives, they know what they can do, together and separately: Simon uses his ionic powers to calm the giant, Denny; Wanda deploys her probability-altering hexes to send Jan somewhere she never wished to see again; Jan applies her knowledge of shrinking and growing to rally Denny’s wife, Alice, to be her own hero.
And we get an honest to gosh happy ending in a done-in-one that uses current crossover event Infinity as a springboard for an entirely satisfying tale in which character motivates action. Writer Al Ewing, who’s just kicked off the new Mighty Avengers team in their own series, shows he’s equally adept at running a veteran unit – Simon, Wanda and Jan’s individual and collective histories are the lifeblood of an issue that should be handed out to all Marvel and DC writers as an example of short, snappy, satisfying superheroics. The tricky subject of Simon’s sudden pacifism – tricky because it makes no sense for the character – is deftly approached, while the troubles of Wanda and Jan are equally well-used. Wanda gets the line of the issue – her warning about coincidences makes superb sense as a story engine.
The Infinity business doesn’t drag the issue down, rather, it gives Ewing the chance to inject a bit of Astro City style ‘everyday folks’ stuff – I especially like that he doesn’t just introduce us to Denny and Alice, he throws in neighbour Soo Jin to make the point that you don’t need powers to try to help someone.
Pepe Larraz’s storytelling is excellent, his Avengers classic, his ordinary folk suitably ordinary and facility at finding things to hide a giant willy behind, commendable. I see a bit of Gene Colan’s style in Denny, which can’t be bad. Colourist Nolan Woodard brings the finishing touches, adding pep and emphasis as necessary. He’s especially good at using tones for facial modelling, a skill which is very hit and miss across the Marvel line. Letterer Clayton Cowles also earns his pay cheque, bringing a zip to proceedings and never going too large with Denny’s words.
I like Jorge Molina’s cover lots, it’s a shame the super-busy trade dress steals so much space and distracts the eye.
Somehow, Avengers Assemble #20 manages to be part of a crossover, while acting as a palate cleanser for those of us who can’t be bothered with the thing – an altered probability worthy of the Scarlet Witch.