This issue gives us fans of Marvel Adventures: Avengers two reasons to celebrate:
Face front, true believers: Parker's making up for lost time with this one.
"Listen up, kids," says Spidey, as he kicks Wolverine in the jaw. "There was a tragic time in Avengers history recently—when hero turned against hero." In the background, Storm zaps Giant-Girl with lightning. "That's why," the web-head continues, "we want you to pay attention, so you don't go down that road. It's a cautionary tale..."
Giant-Girl, ready to crush Storm with a truck, grunts "I... wanted... pho!" Apparently the Avengers are fighting about where to go for lunch. You may think that's a pretty dumb thing to get physical over, and so do they, because they rapidly come to their senses. Returning to their headquarters, they remember why they went out for lunch: Avengers Tower is hosting a work-release program for imprisoned henchmen, and they're hogging the cafeteria. It's for a good cause, at least; former flunky Karl, who used to shill for AIM and HYDRA, is now in the lab, using his talents for good rather than evil.
Spider-Man breaks the fourth wall a second time, explaining that the Avengers faced a dilemma: "Would they ultimately save the world? or destroy it?"
"What are you doing?" asks Storm.
"I'm filming our public announcement about rage for the city. A news crew gave me tape of our embarrassing fight today! I'm going to go back and dub in my narration everywhere, since you can't see my mouth move."
Oh, Jeff Parker, how we've missed you.
In the background, a mysterious figure surreptitiously zaps the Avengers with a green ray, and the Avengers are overcome... with hate. Corncobs fly, ants swarm, backhands hand-back. Once again, it takes only a few moments for them to recover themselves, but you can do a lot of damage in a few moments if you have superpowers. Chagrined, the Avengers agree they have to get to the bottom of what is happening to them. Their first call is to Bruce Banner, on the grounds that his whole life is about dealing with anger. "And failing miserably at it," adds Ant-Man, but no one pays attention to him.
Bruce gets the point, however. He recommends the Avengers pay a visit to his therapist, Doc Sampson. Sampson gives each Avenger some time on the couch, making some trenchant observations on each. Ant-Man has a reverse Napoleon complex; Storm, a superiority complex; Spider-Man is emotionally stunted and needs a wife. (Zing!) Finally, he makes his diagnosis: the Avengers need to blow off some steam. In the absence of a villain to fight, they're fighting each other, so what they need is someone to pound on.
Cap has just the solution. One Quinjet-sub ride later, the Avengers have launched a surprise assault on a recently-discovered HYDRA base, and begin kicking the butts of various HYDRA goons, plus (snicker) the Bi-Beast. "No! That's the head that deals with rampages!" The second one, of course, "concentrates on crushing our enemies."
The Avengers have given the Bi-Beast and the goons a royal smackdown, but they're still enraged. Why? The arrival of the second Quinjet provides the answer. From it emerges... the Hate-Monger! And he's mongering the hate, big-time. With a few choice bits of gossip (he tells Storm that Giant-Girl thinks she has 'dancer' hair) he has the Avengers at their throats. A few pages of brawling and quips ensue, well worth the price of admission.
But our story needs to reach a conclusion, so the Hate-Monger's hate-ray malfunctions just in time to permit a two-page wrap-up. It's Karl under the 'Monger's cowl, of course, but he's no supervillain, just the same loveable screw-up. Reasoning that AIM, HYDRA, and the Serpent Society all flourished because they were motivated by hate, Karl was trying to give the Avengers the same treatment. Too bad hate made them less effective, not more; but that's why they're heroes, right? Well, mostly. Turns out Wolverine's healing factor kept him immune to the hate-ray all along. "Good times," he smirks.
It's been a long dry spell for this title, but Jeff Parker brings the bad times to an end with a single script. This one has it all: action, comedy both broad and subtle ("needs a wife," heh), and a guest star that's used properly. Doc Sampson is on-stage to advance the story, facilitate a few choice jokes, and departs, his job done. All this in a mere two pages! The Bi-Beast and the Hate-Monger also refuse to wear out their welcome.
If you've never tried this title before, or if you have and gave it up at some point over the past year, now's the time to pick it up again... the magic is back.
This one has it all, kids. If you haven't picked it up yet, do yourself a favour and grab it while you can.
Here's your stinger:
BRUCE BANNER, on the phone: "...I'm not coming down there, I don't want to get angry too...
"Because I just bought a new suit...
"Yes, it's purple..."