Avengers: War Across Time #2 review

Fun. That’s the only word to describe this throwback Marvel comic. If you bought the first issue of the mini-series, or read my thoughts, you’ll know it’s set between issues #11 and #12 of the classic Avengers, with the team facing Kang the Conqueror after their first encounter with the time tyrant. I loved it, but feared having Kang dominate every issue would be a tad monotonous.

Why did I worry! Writer Paul Levitz continues the story here but doesn’t even have Kang appear. Because while events are motivated by Kang’s attack on the team last issue, Chapter 2 is pretty much a day in the life of the mid-Sixties Marvel Universe. Heck, it opens with a cameo by Stan Lee’s secretary Flo Steinberg as she watches the original Avengers land in front of the Baxter Building. And then…

And yes, that’s Willie Lumpkin, stalwart of early Fantastic Four stories. Thor, Iron Man, the Wasp, Giant Man and Captain America want to borrow Dr Doom’s Time Machine to take the fight to Kang. Unfortunately, the FF aren’t at home, so Iron Man uses his tech to break into the HQ, leading to the cover scene – Reed Richards was apparently thinking HP Lovecraft when he designed his unstable molecule defences.

Anyway, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes prevail and reach the time platform. They don’t have a how-to handbook, but Thor is confident he can get the gadget working.

Oops. The rest of the Avengers agree they’re onto a loser and leave, though in less dramatic fashion than the God of Pout. After they’ve gone, though, the machine does come to life, and spews out an unexpected figure.

Full marks if you recognise the creator of Mjölnir, a fierce little fella, but surely no threat to five superheroes?

You’d be surprised!

As well as Flo Steinberg and Willie Lumpkin, Levitz also gives us a Marvel star in civvies and a future super-heroine, placing us firmly in peak Stan Lee time. The whimsy continues with the editor’s notes, doubtlessly written by Levitz, pointing readers to other comics in the line. Best of all is the spot-on characterisation – humourless, pompous Thor, the teasing Wasp, insecure Giant Man, ‘I’m only a bodyguard, honest’ Iron Man and full-of-foreboding Captain America.

Alan Davis is obviously having a ball drawing this issue, conjuring up the vibe of predecessors Jack Kirby and Don Heck without subsuming his own style. Actually, his own hand has rarely been so evident in US comics, as he’s working without an inker – I can see a clear line between his 1981 Thor on the cover of a Marvel UK reprint title, his first professional Marvel work, I think, and the version here. This series has been announced as Davis’s pre-retirement project, so a bookending Thor seems appropriate.

Rachelle Rosenberg’s colours mesh marvellously with Davis’s illustrations, lending the extra pop to this Pop Art Production, while Cory Petit’s letters also add to the classiness.

The cover by Davis and Rosenberg is splendid, but I do wish there were some Silver Age style blurbs and balloons – given how busy the composition is, though, I see why not. As consolation, we get period-perfect credits on the splash page.

Levitz and Davis are veterans but they’re producing better work than most younger creators, and the Avengers are lucky to have them. There are three more issues of Avengers: War Across Time to go, and I plan to savour every one.

4 thoughts on “Avengers: War Across Time #2 review

  1. I’m having so, so much fun with this series. This seems pitch-perfect for the old-school Avengers. Alan Davis is certainly going out at the top of his game — his work here is glorious as ever!

    Liked by 1 person

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