Hawkeye is back on the block, with irregular newcomer Luke Cage plus regulars Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine. For once, the cover shows an action scene that could be from the issue: Batroc the Leaper kicking Hawkeye in the chest as Spider-Man looks on.
Last month's preview of the cover included a speech bubble for Spider-Man that didn't make it onto the final version. Too bad, because it was apropos: "A guy with arrows versus a jumping French guy... Truly, the Avengers are Earth's Mightiest Heroes."
We open in media res, with a badly-drawn Luke Cage getting the stuffing beaten out of him by (I think) Thundra, who is also badly drawn. Meanwhile the other male Avengers are menaced by a crowd of angry women. All of the above are badly drawn as well. Why this fight is happening isn't clear.
Cut to two weeks earlier, when Giant-Girl, Storm, and Tigra were leaving Avengers Tower to go on vacation. The male Avengers watch them fly away in a Quinjet, and when they are out of sight, they celebrate: it's bachelor time! What does that mean? If you don't know, it means you – unlike Paul Tobin – didn't watch enough lousy '80s sitcoms. Bachelor time means no laundry, no shaving, eating pizza off of paper plates, football indoors, and broken stuff that will ultimately be blamed on the mysteriously-absent Hulk.
But the girls' absence isn`t all fun and games. With no colleagues around, Hawkeye can't get a date for "the Archer Awards", or something. Naturally Hawkeye thinks dating his co-workers is the smart thing to do. But since that isn`t an option, he logs onto "Lover's Leap," a dating website, to get a computer match-up. He's too lazy to input his own information, so he uses his Avengers communicator to upload his personal data... except he accidentally uploads the personal data of all the Avengers.
As a result, Avengers Tower is inundated with women who are eager to date celebrity superheroes. Anxious and uncomfortable at the prospect of spending time with pretty young women who find them interesting and appealing, the Avengers hustle over to the storefront offices of Lover's Leap, which is owned and operated by Batroc the Leaper! He's lounging poolside in full costume. (Poolside?) Let me paraphrase the conversation between him and Captain America:
CAP: "Batroc, take our personal information off your website."
BATROC: "Let's fight!"
Batroc spars with the Avengers for a few pages until Cap's shield knocks him down. Pointless fight over, Batroc points out he still doesn't want to take the information off the website, and he will only do it if the Avengers go on a bunch of dates with his clients, to burnish the reputation of Lover's Leap.
An allegedly-amusing montage of dating follows: crummy movies, self-absorbed women, etc. But as many dates as the men make, they can't keep up with the schedule Batroc inflicts upon them. The Avengers are finally tracked down by an mob of women angry at being stood up. This leads to another pointless fight, namely the one going on when we came in: the Avengers fighting Batroc and a few super-powered women who are part of the mob (Thundra, Snowbird, maybe some others).
Thankfully, the Avengers are able to solve the whole problem by telling the angry mob that the whole thing is Batroc's fault, and they turn on him. While Batroc is distracted, the Avengers cleanse his computers of their personal information. Feeling proud of themselves, they return to Avengers Tower, where Storm, Tigra, and Giant-Girl have returned! The women are upset at the mess.
TIGRA: "Don't you guys ever clean?"
LUKE CAGE: "We were busy."
TIGRA: "Doing what?"
HAWKEYE: "Say Doctor Doom!"
LUKE CAGE: "Going on dates."
SPIDER-MAN: "Oh dude. Fail."
There it is, folks, the only amusing bit in the entire whole issue. The actual final panel – the male Avengers tidying up while the women look on disapprovingly – is pretty lame.
"Oh dude. Fail." Truer words were never written.
The art is cartoony and rushed. The fights are contrived: there's really no reason for any of the battles in the entire issue to happen, because nothing is at stake. The comedy – which was tired when I first saw it on Night Court twenty years ago – depends on the idea that grown men find women to be oppressive killjoys, with their neatness, civility, and so forth. This is an idea that appeals to twelve-year-old boys, but of course the Avengers are not themselves pre-adolescents. They're supposed to be adults. Tobin is still labouring under the delusion that writing for kids means having the characters act like kids, and it's driving the book into the ground.
It used to be that when I got on my soapbox to preach that comics for kids could be just as entertaining, or even more entertaining, than comics written for adults, I pointed to Marvel Adventures: Avengers as my Exhibit A. It had good art, good writing, and it didn't insult the intelligence of its readers, no matter what age those readers were.
I miss those days.