The Avengers and Champions are beginning to move past the stage where they just yell at each other and are starting to listen and learn. And it is a good thing too, as they discover that every 24 minutes Earth and Counter-Earth come into phase with each other and randomly move people from one world to the other.
Which means the big bad for this story is the usually/sometimes mentally unstable High Evolutionary! (If you weren’t sure that the H.E. was mentally unstable, ask yourself, would a non-crazy person wear pink metal armor ALL the time?) As the issue starts, The Falcon and Viv Vision find themselves on Counter-Earth being hunted by raptor-riding, evolved Ani-men (a.k.a. New Men) who are seeking to capture them and bring them to god… um… The High Evolutionary.
Every time you meet the High E, you are running a crap shoot. It seems that the only constant we gets is his goal of making perfect beings. Other than that, his personality is all over the place. This time the wheel of personality has landed on super-dickish.
Speaking of super-dickish, back on regular Earth, Papa Vision puts a heavy-handed squeeze on one of the Ani-men’s brains to find out where Viv and Falcon ended up. This concerns the Avengers, since Vision promised he ditched his emotions a while ago. Either he lied or emotions are harder to debug than previously thought. Fortunately, cooler heads (a.k.a. The Champions) prevail and get information without fingering anybody’s brains.
We are at the halfway mark of this story line and the assured storytelling skills of Mark Waid are setting us up for the second half. Now the Avengers and Champions know (or at least, think they know) what they are up against they divide into two teams one to defend the Earth and the other to take down The High E himself on Counter-Earth.
But mister E isn’t just hanging out in his castle doing nothing. He’s brewing a big batch of evolvification for both regular Earth’s heroes. We get a glimpse of what he’s doing to Viv, but Waid and crew are hiding what is happening to Sam Wilson, for now. And it doesn’t seem if the High E cares because there are so many piles of skulls in his house/temple indicating past “mistakes.” (His cleaning ladies are clearly overworked.)
The story gives Javier Pina and Paco Diaz plenty of splash pages to show off their skills and they don’t disappoint. Their grace and skill keep the actions and emotions flowing where they need to go. I enjoyed their use of space and action to help hide how much of this issue is our heroes standing around and talking.
As I wrote above, this is the third chapter in the six-issue story arc and next chapter is in the Champions coming out in two weeks, before shifting back to the Avengers. I’m not really a fan of these multi-title story arcs, but Waid is handling everything very well and giving each team their share of the spotlight.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Javier Pina and Paco Diaz
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Alex Ross