Now the Universe is safe (until the next time it's at risk at least), the Avengers are assisting S.H.I.E.L.D. with the day to day issues of Earth. Earth has plenty of threats such as A.I.M.
Last time, A.I.M. island began to grow causing weather and geographical abnormalities on the east coast of America. Captain America sent Sunspot, Cannonball and Smasher to A.I.M. island to investigate, but they were attacked.
Smasher is living up to her name and trying to break out of a containment cell whilst the Scientist Supreme, Andrew Forson, and another A.I.M. agent look on. The agent comments that Sunspot and Cannonball are in their infirmary and will be treated. He then hints that they can make them useful to A.I.M. but the Andrew doesn't want this and tells the agent just to keep them under containment. The agent informs the Scientist Supreme that Izzy isn't just an Avenger but also a Sh'iar Superguardian. Andrew likes this and orders her release, saying she will be his messenger.
Meanwhile on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, Bruce Banner is briefing Captain America, Maria Hill and some other agents on the A.I.M. island situation; how it has grown considerably and whilst it's outward growth has now stopped, it is still getting taller. Bruce also states that the technology A.I.M. has is way ahead of theirs and he is still trying to figure out what kind of containment field A.I.M. has set up to hold Smasher and the others. Cap orders Thor's team to go and help.
Back on the island, Smasher finally gets out of her cell and discovers an alien looking garden outside. She tries to brush it off as nothing much; she's been to other planets before. The Scientist Supreme approaches Izzy, leading to her taking an aggressive stance, but to her surprise he apologies and says they didn't mean to attack and it was out of confusion due to the recent growth of A.I.M. island. He tells her friends are being cared for and they can leave at any time. Before they go though he wants to show her something. He tells Smasher that the island's growth was necessary to protect themselves for what is to come. As they tour the garden, Andrew says that a being that has seen the end of the universe lives there and that he opened A.I.M.'s eyes to allow them to better mankind. The Scientist Supreme's speech mentions an end to all sickness, which strikes a chord with Smasher who lost her Grandfather to illness. (We have a few pages of flashback with Izzy as a child finding a Captain Terror mask that her Grandfather has and then a bit later when she is older and he is dying.) Smasher is then stung by an alien bug and her body begins to change. Andrew explains this change is to prepare her for what is to come and they are then approached by the being who has seen the end of the Universe – the Entropic Man. He tells Izzy the truth behind all things – that everything dies. Izzy doesn't want this and the Scientist Supreme says she will tell the world of this, as their Messenger. Izzy stands ready in a new golden uniform.
Interesting issue. Those of you that were kind enough to read my review of Avengers (Vol. 5) #5 may remember that I though it was cool that Izzy's Grandfather was Dan Dare. Well even though that comic was only published around a year ago, this comic changes that fact. Izzy's grandfather is now Dan Kane, or Captain Terror as he was also known. Apparently he was always intended to be Dan Kane and the use of Dare as a surname was an error. (Editor Tom Brevoort has confirmed this himself and reprints of the earlier issue of Avengers have had the surname changed to Kane as was originally intended, so any of you that have picked up a trade copy wouldn't even have seen the whole "Dare" thing.) The use of this character makes sense as Marvel own the Dan Kane character but, to my knowledge, don't own Dan Dare. In my review of Avengers (Vol. 5) #5 I mistakenly thought Dan Dare was from World War II and met Captain America during this time, however Dan Dare was written in the 50s but set in the 90s, so they wouldn't have met. Captain Terror on the other hand, was from the WW2 era so continuity wise this correction is a good thing! Part of me does wonder if this comic would have gotten so much of Izzy's grandfather's back story were it not for the surname mistake and it's correction, after all we already knew that Izzy lost him to illness shortly after she become Smasher. No matter.
Whilst I did like this issue, it was a little drawn out. I could have easily summarised it as “A.I.M. convert the captured Smasher into Messenger” but that would have been a little unfair. Sure, there was a little bit of colour added to the story with the Scientist Supreme telling us that A.I.M. are less selfish now and are trying to better mankind (but don't all bad guys say that!). We also got the introduction of the Entropic Man (albeit briefly), but he didn't really add much apart from telling us the secret of the Universe: that everything dies (well, duh!). In addition, we got a little bit more of Izzy's history but, as I mentioned above, we knew a lot of that already. In fairness the story has moved on and it was nice to focus on Smasher, who is still a relatively new character, but did we need a whole issue to do that?
Positive things! I did like the recap page, how it was set out like a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission report – nice touch. Also the art is excellent. The use of darks to emphasise the internal helicarrier or prison scenes, compared to the light external garden scene – really good. As were the use of blurry edges to the frames of the flashback scenes and paler colours used within.
Hopefully the set up of this issue (following the set up from issue #1) will pay off.
A good enough story, progressing the overall plot a little and giving us a bit more information. However, quite a bit of this we've seen before, and not that long ago, so it scores just above average.