Posted - January 13 & 14, 2012 | Updated : June 18, 2012 : August 27, 2015
Avengers Forever 1 : Destiny Made Manifest
What will happen if you met a much younger version of yourself?
At the very start of this incredible adventure we are shown a ruthless but very interesting army. It's an army modelled after members of the Avengers. Hammer Troopers wielding high-tech "Mjolnirs"; Repulser Troopers, each one an Iron Man; Sheildsmen patterned after Captain America but also carrying weapons together with their shields; and the Micro Swarm, whose members are copies of Ant-Man. Unfortunately, these guys are shown as a punitive force but the visuals as they go about their bloody business, is pretty striking.
I repeat, Pacheco is a fantastic artist and I'll plunk down my hard-earned for him any day, no problem. But. But. He can't draw a woman's breast at all - the females are depressingly flat-chested.
At the center of Avengers Forever is the war between Kang and Immortus. The thing is, Kang is Immortus and Immortus is Kang. It's wonderful to see the younger, hot-headed Kang scream at his older self, Immortus, Ruler of Limbo, and shout something to the effect that he'll never be like Immortus. You know, that's exactly what my younger self will say to me right now!
Rick Jones uses that rare power of his, last seen in The Kree-Skrull War, to summon Avengers from different timelines. Including two versions of Hank Pym! It's gonna be crazy.
Avengers Forever 2 : Now Is The Time For All Good Men
Avengers Assemble? These are the most dysfunctional Avengers ever (of course, Yellowjacket, hadto be here)
Let's take a closer look at this baffling set of Avenger's that Rick's power has summoned from different timelines. It's noteworthy that Rick doesn't have conscious control of the picks, his power does the selection, so he's as surprised as the rest of us.
First of all, that's the best Wasp costume I've seen. Janet Van Dyne is unique among super-heroes in that she typically changes outfits all the time. But you know, I've been thinking about it, she does prefer full body-glove type costumes.
Another Avenger pick that I consider ideal is Captain America. This iteration of Steve Rogers has super-strength! It seems that at one point, Marvel did give Captain America super-strength. I wonder why they backed out of that? That is a great idea.
The Captain Marvel here is Genis, whom Rick referred to as "the real Captain Marvel's no good son Genis" to his face! Whoa.
And of course, there is the extremely arrogant, slightly unhinged Henry Pym as Yellowjacket and the mature and grounded Henry Pym as Giant Man. These two are bound to knock heads at one point.
It's going to be a bumpy ride for this group - I can tell.
Oh yes, Songbird is here too. Apparently she becomes an Avenger in the future. In 1998 Marvel she's a villain, so the Wasp is very surprised. Up until lately, Songbird was a member of Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts, still not Avenger material (well maybe Dark Avengers).
Avengers Forever 3 : City At The Heart Of Forever
When your so tough that the only one who can kick your ass is you
This is a tale of big battles - Kang and Immortus don't do things on a small-scale. Pacheco provides impressive panoramic "shots", which must have taken him weeks to draw. The Egypt panels are particularly impressive, then there are two two-page spread panels both centered on the Avengers going into battle with wide battlefields in the backgrounds this is pinup worthy stuff.
If only the Avengers were, you know, more Avengery. But, you know, the roster is a genius choice by Busiek, because with this group you have the battle and the internal dynamics. It all spells non-boring and that's good.
All this fighting is because Kang and Immortus are having at it. Here, Kang's base is under attack. Kang is in his place of power but he's having a very hard time against his future self. No surprise. With what I know now and how wise I've become, I can pretty much have the upper hand against myself, say, twenty years ago.
Anyway, Busiek handles it just right, there is a very strong feeling of Kang starting to be overwhlemed, even with the Avengers on his side. This is balanced by the braggadocio of Kang himself, whose fighting spirit is undiminished. This subtle balance provides the "spice" that makes this tale so enjoyable.
Avengers Forever 4 : Running Out of Time
Henry Pym, Giant Man vs. Henry Pym, Yellowjacket
Keep your eye out the for the time machine patterned after the Egyptian Sphynx.
I knew it would happen but I never thought it would be so well implemented. I'm talking about the inevitable confrontation between Henry Pym, Giant-Man and Henry Pym, Yellowjacket. A lazy and derivative writer would have probably given us a fight, but Kurt Busiek is not lazy or derivative and we are shown this anticipated confrontation as a battle of the brains of sorts where both Pyms try to outdo each other in working the Sphinx/time machine's controls. Note the harsh ego driven attitude of Yellowjacket beside the calm cool of Giant Man. I consider this exchange one of the highlights of the story.
Another such highlight is a time visit to a an apocalyptic New York City. The future has mankind the victims of a Martian invasion. The last humans standing are composed of Killraven (absolutely unsurprising), the Red Dynamo, Thundra, a modified version of the Avenger Jocasta; all led by an aged Black Panther. Watch them fight the end battle against the Martians; together with our band of time-lost Avengers.
Avengers Forever 5 : Past Imperfect Future Tense
From the 50s to the Old West
What is it about my attraction to 1950s Marvel? Maybe because there is no 1950s Marvel. They were called Timely back in the 40s and they never hit their current stride until Lee and Kirby published FF 1 in 1962. But there is a group of heroes associated with the pre-FF days. You can get a glimpse of them in the pages of Agents of Atlas and you can get a glimpse of them here, in issue 5 of Avengers Forever.
Marvel Boy is here and so is the Human Robot and Venus. Only the 3-D Man is new to me. Yes, its another timejump for our Avengers.
We have another era in these pages, the Old West of Marvel where we see the Black Rider, Reno Jones and Kid Cassidy among others.
One of the best things about Avengers Forever is that the storyline gives us a mini-tour of the Marvel Universe.
Avengers Forever 6 : In The Meantime, The In-Between Times
This disparate team of Avengers are at last beginning to gel
I love seeing Giant Man use a Hulk classic : Clapping his hands together to generate enough force to create winds to repel nearby friend and foe alike.
More Marvel western goodness here as we meet the Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid. In a previous issue they also featured Reno Jones.
I notice that Busiek would build up to the critical point in a particular panel sequence, then right before the climax, he would switch scenes. This is not jarring at all, it gives the reading a roller coaster feel - adds dynamism.
A comment on a very small detail: The Black Panther's eyes are really panther eyes. I think this is a great idea - a visual cue that T'Challa has been imbued, supernaturally, with the favor of the Panther god.
Marvel historians are in for a treat. The Avengers are getting a sense that Immortus has been playing an invisible hand in Marvel history. As a direct consequence of that, we get lots of scenes plucked from here and there that should be familiar to long-time fans.
Avengers Forever 7 : Into A Limbo Large And Broad
Would you betray your friends to avoid being a loser?
This issue, the Avengers head to Limbo - Immortus' place.
It's a big move; not really a suicidal run but dangerous enough to fill both Rick Jones and Captain Marvel with foreboding. The former's recently awakened senses and the latter's cosmic awareness makes them the most sensitive of the group.
As the trip to Limbo comes underway I'm struck by just how good Pacheco's art is. Every panel is good. This is a definite labor of love on his part and I really appreciate it.
Before they actually get into Limbo, the Avengers experience cross-time anomalies that had them viewing different time events. One of those highlighted, centered on the original Human Torch's link to the Vision. This has been one of those long-running Marvel mysteries and I'm hoping that Busiek gets back to it later to clear up the question : Is the Vision the original Human Torch?
Once they're in Limbo the team gets separated and each one has a mini-adventure or encounter of sorts. My favorite is Hawkeye's tussle with Tempus, the legendary, immortal, and eternally regenerating guard of Limbo (who's sick of the job and secretly wants to die - this from Thor 281). It's a wonderful action sequence ending in Tempus being tackled by a Clint Barton reverted to his gigantic Goliath form.
We end this issue with a betrayal as Yellowjacket agrees to help Immortus in return for the Time King helping him not to end up as a grade 'A' loser. I began to laugh until it occurred to me I would do the same in Clint's place; a lot would depend on what exactly Immortus would want me to do but yeah, I'd do it.
Avengers Forever 8 : The Secret History of the Avengers
What is Avengers Forever about anyway?
At last! Things are explained, in what is perhaps the most important issue of Avengers Forever.
First, the Vision and the Human Torch. Back in the golden age, Marvel was called Timely and the big three heroes were the heart of the Invaders: Captain America, Namor and the Human Torch. For a long time it was the Torch and Namor, fire and water, who fought it out. Cap and the Submariner remain pillars of the Marvel Universe. And the Torch? He's been remade into the Vision. Right? Yes. The Vision was the original Human Torch. Mystery resolved.
Next, its revealed that Immortus is an agent of still more powerful time beings known as the Time Keepers, whose agenda Immortus serves.
Then we have the Scarlet Witch. Revealed as some sort of nexus being who is fated to have children so powerful that they'll be on the level with the Cosmic-class beings of the 616 universe. For some reason this is unacceptable to the Time Keepers and Immortus has been working to prevent such offspring from happening. In fact, Immortus has been messing with Avengers history for a long time.
For someone unfamiliar with the Avengers this is still an enjoyable issue. Heck, it's an enjoyable issue even if you don't read it thanks to the Pacheco art. But Avengers aficionados will truly enjoy this one as it will leverage there existing familiarity with the history of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Avengers Forever 9 : Break : Reflections of the Conqueror
All About Kang
All this time I thought Kang was Rama Tut and Immortus and I was right. But he's more than that. Kang is also the Scarlet Centurion - foe of the Squadron Supreme (who in turn are Marvel's version of DC's Justice League. Ha!). I thought Kang was the descendant of Doctor Doom. That may yet be right, but he could also be the descendant of Nathaniel Richards. So Reed could be related to Kang.
Every time Kang makes a move he creates alternate time branches and alternate Kangs. There is a virtual army of Kangs moving around the Marvel timestreams.
This issue is a companion issue to the previous Avengers Forever 8 in that it goes deeply into the history of Kang the Conqueror while issue 8 explains Immortus.
And thus is revealed the core of Avengers Forever. It's really not about the Avengers at all but about Kang/Immortus and his war with himself. Truly fascinating (and not a little confusing).
Avengers Forever 10 : Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
What is at the core of every Avenger?
In this issue the Time Keepers come out and explain themselves.
These Time Keepers are beings cut from Marvel's cosmic cloth - or at least, that's the way they present themselves - invincible, omnipotent and omniscient. But very quickly, Captain America and the others punch holes in the Time Keepers' arguments. Arguments that seek to justify the destruction of forty-two percent of the timelines involving humanity, causing the death of trillions.
It is in the end, a lesson for all those who would seek to do wrong things under the guise of necessity. This issue is a lesson on the terrible wages of fear. For it is fear that drives the Time Keepers, fear that justifies terrible actions done by Immortus; and this issue explains that very clearly.
I mentioned before that Avengers Forever is more about Kang/Immortus than the Avengers. That is true for the series as a whole but this issue reveals the Avengers, the core of their philosophy, by placing them against the backdrop of the beliefs of Immortus and the Time Keepers. Even the darkest Avenger here, Yellowjacket, shares the core qualities of all Avengers. And that quality is defined by the refusal to do things out of fear which the Avengers characterize as a devotion to justice, but which is something deeper - hope. Hope and trust in the future backed by compassion and faith. This truly is Avengers Forever.
Avengers Forever 11 : The Destiny War
There are more than 300 Avengers in this issue
This is the action issue! Just to show you that it is, it starts with Kang, Rick Jones and the Kree Supreme Intelligence in a giant armed-to-the-teeth june buggy. Yeah!
I have a soft spot for stories that show the good side of a bad guy and makes me root for him. The classic Fantastic Four 247 did it with Doctor Doom. Avengers Forever 11 does it with Kang. I'm with the Time Master all the way; even his alter ego Immortus shows a great nobility here - he actually dies trying to protect Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Ok, initially the fight scenes involve Kang, our dysfunctional group of Avengers, the Supreme Intelligence and Libra standing by the sidelines. The action quickly escalates as the Time Keepers bring in every single Avenger from a timeline that went bad. They're wonderfully rendered. This is Dark Avengers pre-Osborn. Now, as you can expect our good Avengers have no chance, so, right before the end, the battle is joined by every Avenger from a timeline that didn't go bad.
Action and fast pacing all the way.
Avengers Forever 12 : Avengers Assemble
Does anybody know what the Supreme Intelligence will be doing with the Forever Crystal?
My first thought when starting Avengers Forever 12 was : "What happened to Pacheco, the Wasp actually has boobs". Anyway . . .
Alright. Avengers Forever is finished and it is one satisfying read. Now stop reading this because I'm about to spoil the ending.
Damn good comics.