Comics : Avengers (Vol. 5) #12

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This story is part of an Arc: "Children of the Sun"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: Jun 2013.

Background...

A while back, well back in Avengers (Vol. 5) #4, one of Ex Nihilo’s Origin bombs formed a pod in the Savage Lands. From this hatched several Zebra-like children, who latched onto Hyperion calling him Daddy. “He was the Sun and these were the first of his Children”, the issue said (which explains why solicits refer to them as the Children of the Sun). This issue revisits them to see how they’ve been getting on.

In Detail...

"Evolve"
Avengers (Vol. 5) #12
Jul 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man & Spider-Woman Appear
Arc: Part 1 of "Children of the Sun"
Editor:  Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort
Writer:  Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer
Artist:  Mike Deodato
Cover Art:  Dustin Weaver, Justin Ponsor
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Colorist:  Justin Ponsor
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Review

The issue starts with Thor praying to his father, to help mankind deal with the Universe breaking apart around them. Iron Man calls Thor to his lab to see something except it’s not really Tony, as he’s 700 light years away with the Guardians of the Galaxy, this is a remote control suit. Tony has been monitoring the Children of the Sun since they hatched a fortnight ago and boy how they have grown! Analysis shows that they don’t eat, sleep, breathe or even photosynthesise yet seem to have a limitless supply of energy. Iron Man thinks that they are truly beyond Human, maybe something closer to Thor. He also thinks there’s a problem, currently their isolated life is practically perfect but at some point the kids will need to integrate into the not so perfect world. Hyperion volunteers to teach the children some life lessons and takes a team with him.

Hyperion, divides the children into small groups each tutored by an Avenger. Spider-Man is teaching them trust. However, this being Otto in control he shows them this by displaying how to sucker punch people, teaching them not to trust so freely. Thor is teaching about bravery, glory and worth and sends his group out on a quest to retrieve a marked rock from a distant mountain. Hawkeye and Spider-Woman are teaching their group accountability. They do this by sunbathing (!) and letting the kids run about. Clint points out that they were responsible enough to put on sunscreen and so have taught the lesson. Jess is less then impressed but not enough to stop sunbathing!

Whilst this is going on, Garokk the petrified man (an inhabitant and watcher over the Savage Lands for those, like me, who are unfamiliar with him) is observing. The sight of the evolved children fills him with hope, until he remembers a spaceship parked nearby that fills him with dread. Understandable really as it’s full of nasty creatures; creatures that have just been released.

Thor and Hyperion discuss why they care so much about these children. They are not mortal men and only they truly comprehend the bad things that lie ahead on a Universal scale. They want to make sure these children are ready. Meanwhile, a team of three children are climbing the mountain. One slips but is saved by another as the third heads on to claim the rock. They return with the "finder of the rock" proclaiming triumph, however, Thor declares the "life saver" as worthy (boy he’s got good senses if he picked up on all of that on a distant mountain whilst talking to Hyperion! Well I suppose he is a God). Captain Universe appears and explains to the children how they have learnt lessons that will help them fit into a world where they don’t belong, a world where they don’t need anything. Hyperion picks up on this: whilst those that need nothing want for nothing, they can still witness the needy around them and want to help and so find their place in that world. Spidey has joined the group and thinks this is nonsense! He doesn’t think it wise to raise the children to believe they are god-like, that it is all very well to live above the food chain until a predator appears.

Just like that, one of the creatures leaps to attack the children. Fortunately, Hawkeye takes it out with an arrow, showing his accountability by being there when it matters. Jess however points out it was more luck than dependability, as they returned when Clint was starting to burn! The Avengers try to work out what the creature was: part of a pack? A hunter? a scout? Spidey knows better, it was a distraction allowing two winged beasts to make off with four children. The beasts return to their master, the High Evolutionary, who now has some new material to work with…

In General...

What a great story! I tried to review it as succinctly as possible, but could only get it down to 5 paragraphs! So why did I like it so much? I shall explain and apologise now if this goes on a bit! First off I loved the concept of this issue – how it wasn’t a spy mission or an action mission, but a humanitarian mission. A worthwhile task suitable for a team set with dealing of the Earth’s biggest problems.

I loved the use of Iron Man in this issue, he was there but equally he was not there. An excellent bit of writing to allow a character to appear in multiple comics at the same time and still be feasible within each comic’s timeline – finally continuity with other current titles, thank you! Also, the development of Hyperion was great. This is a character that stores his memories as light with virtually instantaneous recall. For him, “then” can be the same as “now”. He saw the destruction of his Earth when it collided with another. He will always see it, as it is his most dominant memory. This is why he wants to do good; he doesn’t want to lose another Earth and he wants to produce a better memory. This is why the children matter so much to him; they can be an example, they can help to do good. The use of Thor supporting Hyperion throughout this is good writing again, using an established character with similar values/abilities/traits to help endear the newer character to the reader. The mission Thor set the children was great and very in keeping with character, as was the lesson it taught. Just because you don’t complete the task set, does not mean you are not worthy. Equally, completing a task but at the expense of another does not make one worthy. It’s all about the team – marvellous stuff.

The team of Avengers used in this issue was also good. Spider-Man is usually only included for comic relief and whilst he certainly provided a few laughs, it was suitable and not just a one-liner during a battle scene. It’s not that I’m against a joking Spidey, I accept that Spider-Man is a funny guy and quips whilst fighting, that it is part of his character. But when all he is shown to do in a comic is joke, it undersells him and what else he can do. The unorthodox way Spidey taught the kids about trust was very Otto Octavius and also valid in its own right. Also his analysis of Hyperion’s teachings at the end was spot on, as was him deducing the methodology to the creatures attacking. Lovely bit of writing, once again acknowledging the status quo of another comic. Hawkeye & Spider-Woman, were well used too. Hawkeye also tends to be used mainly for laughs, and again that’s true here but in a suitable way. Sometimes Hawkeye and Spider-Man are interchangeable as the comic relief, but Clint’s funny moments were totally in line with his cockiness and his dependability. Jessica was a nice foil to his humour and helped keep him in line, I think they work well as a couple. I can’t complain that Jess was only used as eye candy (as she appears in a bikini) as Clint was dressed in a similar way. As both sexes are equally represented – alls fair!

Nice cameo from Garokk, and I’m sure readers that know more about the Savage Lands then I do appreciated his inclusion. The set up of the High Evolutionary as next issue’s big bad was also well done. (Should be good to she how Spider-Woman interacts with him as I believe he is partially responsible for her origin – she’s had a few origin stories but I think the High Evolutionary one is canon.) This is the way set ups should be handled, as part of a story. How many times in a multi-issue arc do we have filler issues in the middle that serve no real purpose but to set up another comic? This issue told a story in its own right whilst also setting up the next one. It was also nice to have a story that was told beginning to end without any flashbacks.

The art once again was stellar, it captured movement so well – from Iron Man’s helmet lifting up to Thor’s rock throwing to creatures pouncing.

What else can I say, I really liked this issue.

Overall Rating...

I didn’t think I’d ever give a perfect score but I really couldn’t find fault. I tired for some time too!

Footnote...

So there is a maths issue again, but I've decided not to take it out on this issue as I think Avengers (Vol. 5) #9 is at “fault”. When Adam said he was 47 days old, it set the first arc at seven weeks prior to issue 9. This issue is set two weeks after issue 4, meaning that issue would have to be set 4 – 5 weeks after the first arc (assuming this issue is set soon after issue 9). I find it unlikely it would have taken the Avengers five weeks to find another bomb site so I’m declaring (with no authority what so ever!) that Adam’s 47 days old status is at fault. If he was say 27 days old things fit together in a much neater way, including issue 10.

Or I could just try and forget about the maths!