The numbering of this comic dictates it is set just before the time jump comics from the "Time runs out" arc. Good, because they are frankly difficult to review on an individual nature for the purposes of this site when a Spider happens to appear! This is a one-shot story about Starbrand.
Kevin Connor was a regular kid, who wasn't anything special and was largely ignored by his classmates and everyone else. That was until he became the Starbrand and (accidentally) destroyed his town (see The Last White Event Arc). He lost it for a bit but with Nightmask's help he pulled it together and assisted the Avengers in stopping the Universal threat of the Builders and Thanos attacking the Earth.
Strange things are occurring in the small town of Gilstrap, South Carolina. A little old lady has just bought her groceries and is suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to torch the place in the name of Kolobus! Miles away in Avengers Tower, Nightmask feels this disturbance – it is linked to an ancient radiation. He asks Spider-Woman for permission to investigate. Jess points out that he doesn't have to ask, just call in for back-up if you need it and suggests he takes Starbrand.
Starbrand is in outer space, using his cosmic power to create impossible things (a Penrose triangle out of meteors for one). Adam arrives to take him to investigate the South Carolina event but Kevin doesn't want to go, thinking he is a freak and has no place on Earth. Nightmask points out that he is the planetary defence system and he has abandoned his post. Also as Nightmask is only 4 months old and was “born” on Mars, he needs Kevin's help to investigate on a planet on which he is unfamiliar.
The two arrive and use their powers to change from their hero outfits to civilian clothes, a feat noticed by a local little girl. Heading to a local BBQ diner, Kevin again uses his powers to turn his order of ribs into a burger. The little girl (Cassie) sees this too and identifies them as Avengers, asking them if they know Spider-Woman (she's her favourite). Kevin's burger trick is then noticed by the diner's owner and she kicks them out. Outside, the sheriff has arrived on scene (she is Cassie's sister). Adam asks her about the incident he sensed and apparently it is one many arsons in recent times. Kevin isn't happy as they are Super heroes and are not there to investigate menial things like fires (not realising the two are linked). Suddenly, a Kolobus possessed diner owner appears and attacks Kevin with a meat cleaver. Cassie warns him in time so only his arm is cut and Nightmask manages to sedate the attacker.
A trip to the hospital and chat with the sheriff is enough to spur Kevin on to investigate. He uses his cosmic awareness to seek out the cause and discovers Kolobus, a monster god of the cosmos. Kolobus has possessed Cassie and attacks the Avengers. Starbrand take the fight off world and frees Cassie. He discovers that Kolobus was once a star that was destroyed by another, he is now just looking for something to possess and call home! Fortunately the meteor Penrose triangle that Starbrand created earlier is just right and Kolobus peacefully possesses it. Kolobus suggests Starbrand remains with him, as is more than a person and is one of the Cosmos.
Two weeks later, Jessica Drew arrive at Gilstrap. Adam and Kevin are having a BBQ with the recovering town. Kevin is taking the opportunity to reconnect with his planet whilst helping the townspeople to reconstruct. He also wants Jess's autograph to give to Cassie and help convince her that he is a real hero!
A nice enough story, though I question when it is set. When Kevin acquired the powers of Starbrand he (understandably) lost it. However, working with Adam he managed to gain control and be an asset to the Avengers. This story (from the way it is numbered) is set after Kevin coming to terms with his power and being accepted by the Avengers, when really it fits in more after his origin arc and before he and the other Avengers set out to fight the Builders. This is a filler issue so why it couldn't be numbered before #17 (where it is arguably more suited) I don't know. Perhaps having a point 1 issue so far out from the current numbering would have been too confusing and it was “bad enough” that it came out the same time as Avengers #40 but being #34.2 was more acceptable than say #16.1. It also slots in with a Hyperion filler one-shot that was numbered #34.1. I understand that comics are set out of sync with other all the time due to the differences in writing teams and shipping dates, etc – I just find it a bit weird when continuity is out of sync within the same comic.
If I ignore the fact the story isn't really set within the current continuity, then the story itself is okay. Kevin is coming to terms with the ridiculous amounts of power he now has and is experimenting well away from where he can do any damage. The problem is (as Nightmask identifies) that by doing so he is rejecting the post for which he was given those powers. This story lets him reconnect with Earth whilst maintaining control of his powers. It was quite convenient that the nasty monster was so easily placated by the offering of Starbrand's Penrose triangle and I was also a little surprised at how long it took Nightmask to discover the problem in Gilstrap as we find out in the story that 37 incidents have occurred. What made number 37 so special? However, I can forgive a few conveniences for a one shot comic – it's not like there were several issues to write a better set up and resolution.
Character-wise, the interactions between Adam and Kevin and good and in keeping with their established friendship. Kevin's stubbornness to blend in was amusing and fit his character of angst ridden teen well. Adam's attempts to blend in by reading and over-analysing various blogs also provided funny moments. Spider-Woman's role in this is minimum and in many ways reminded me of a Captain Marvel comic with Cassie acting as a member of the Carol Corps. Jess does nothing special in here apart from serve as a connection to two new Avengers. It's a nice cameo nonetheless.
Finally the art and this issue was illustrator by an artist new to me. Bengal did a good job but I think props should go more to the colourist use of inks I thought was great, especially his use of shadow in most scenes.
A good enough one-shot, although I think it should have been told earlier within the Avengers' timeline.