AVENGERS #10 left us with a lot of exciting things to look forward to. We got more than one new super team taking up some corner of the world, insight into Robbie Reyes’ learning curve as Ghost Rider, and a huge hint that Blade will be the newest Avenger. Picking up shortly after where #10 left off, AVENGERS #11 is certainly a slower issue, but it builds on multiple aspects of writer Jason Aaron’s story.

AVENGERS #11 focuses on four main points, each handled with varying degrees of attention. You’ve got Robbie, T’Challa, Thor and Jennifer, and Phil Coulson. Each of these characters takes up a chunk of the story in AVENGERS #11. Some bits are funny, others are dire. But they all add to the world Jason Aaron is building for this new team of Avengers.

Joining Aaron this time around is series regular artist Ed McGuinness and series newcomer Cory Smith. McGuinness and Smith’s styles are perfect for a lighter yet more attention-driven issue like AVENGERS #11. Their character designs are outstanding front-to-back, and they do a great job of taking us from plot point to plot point in an effortless manner.

Everyone’s Busy in AVENGERS #11

Rather than give you the sequential blow-by-blow of AVENGERS #11, I figure it’ll be easier to divvy this one up into its four parts.

The primary story of AVENGERS #11 revolves around T’Challa as he meets with other superhero leaders from around the world, such as Captain Britain, Sunfire, and Ursa Major (of the hostile-towards-the-Avengers Winter Guard). T’Challa’s goal is to concretely unite the global superhero forces. Just about everyone in attendance agrees, except the brutish Ursa Major. Ultimately, though, the meeting is successful, and it seems the Avengers now have more allies than enemies.

The second big story told in AVENGERS #11 is definitely Coulson’s. Coulson died at the hands of Deadpool during SECRET EMPIRE. Coulson’s back now, somehow, and he’s grown rather cynical. That is to say, he’s not a big fan of superheroes anymore. His former idols are now his most hated targets. He contemplates all of this as he interrogates (and eventually kills) a former SHIELD agent.

AVENGERS #11
AVENGERS #11 page 6. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The tertiary story revolves around Thor and Jennifer Walters’ date. Right off the bat, you know this is going to be stupid, but in a funny way. Thor takes Jennifer to watch dinosaurs fight in the Savage Land. Obviously, this isn’t her idea of a nice date. Before she can storm back home via teleport, though, Thor gives a heartfelt monologue. Then, as is proper, Thor and She-Hulk make out. You know, because.

The fourth bit features Robbie and Carol mulling over how Robbie needs to study up on his bad guys, and how his Hell Charger is an odd piece of machinery. This bit is mostly included for comedic effect, which definitely pays off. More material featuring both of these characters is good in my book.

Balancing the Funny with the Furious

Jason Aaron juggles more than his fair-share of dynamic storytelling in AVENGERS #11. He deftly manages to cut between four different stories — two light-hearted, one monotone and plot-progressing, and one brooding. There are a lot of story threads to follow, but it’s still obvious which are the most important.

Of course, the bits involving T’Challa and Coulson demand the most attention. Nothing too exciting happens in T’Challa’s bit, but it establishes that the Winter Guard are still fairly hostile, and that, overall, the rest of the worldwide superhero community backs each other and the Avengers.

Coulson’s story is nothing if not foreboding. As part of his monologue, we get a glimpse at Hyperion, a member of the Squadron Supreme, manhandling one of Namor’s Defenders, showing that Coulson’s team (and by association, Coulson himself) means business.

AVENGERS #11
AVENGERS #11 page 16. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Of course, AVENGERS #11 doesn’t have to be 100% serious. Nor should it be. The other two stories told, though brief, still help keep the overall tone of the issue somewhere neatly in the middle of dark and pleasant. Seeing Robbie whining like a child when he’s told to study is kind of hysterical, considering all the power he and his ride possess. And seeing the blatant failure that was Thor and Jennifer’s date was downright embarrassing yet hysterical to watch. But it turned itself around at the end, and wound up being sort of uplifting.

Overall, AVENGERS #11 handles many different storytelling strategies all at once. It really shouldn’t come together as neatly as it does, but that’s Jason Aaron for you: ready to spit in the face of storytelling standards.

Simple Yet Sensible Artwork

Ed McGuinness and Cory Smith back each other up wonderfully in AVENGERS #11. Though nothing about these pages is grandiose or strikingly impressive, there’s much to admire in the simplicity of their work.

Just as Aaron handles different storytelling angles in AVENGERS #11, so too do McGuinness and Smith. They jump between four very different settings here, which surely seems a boggling task. One moment, you’ve got a larger setting in T’Challa’s meeting, which is filled with various characters of different geographical origins (meaning they all have distinct looks to them). The next, you’ve got single, full-page shots of Phil Coulson, set to a background that consists of nothing but a blank room.

AVENGERS #11
AVENGERS #11 page 12. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Throw in a hot date in the Savage Land and a trip to the Avengers Mountain garage, and you’ve given your artists a lot to work on. And yet, McGuinness and Smith handle all of this without flaw. Not once do any of their characters look out of place or misshapen, or their settings and environments look lazy.

McGuinness and Smith handle every page of AVENGERS #11 with care, even though it’s a lighter issue overall. Really, though, I’m not that surprised. This run on AVENGERS has returned the title to flagship-status at Marvel, so it needs to look the part, 24/7. McGuinness and Smith definitely handle AVENGERS #11 like pros.

A Showdown with the Squadron Supreme Looms

I’ve been over the character of Phil Coulson for some time now. However, this new interpretation of the character might be exactly what he’s needed. He comes bearing bad news of trouble on the horizon for the Avengers, and he’s got the Squadron Supreme to back him up. I can only hope that something happens that helps him see the light. I mean, like, come on, how can someone like Coulson suddenly hate Captain America?!

Although, there was that whole Hydra incident…

Well, regardless, AVENGERS #11 is still a big win. Jason Aaron expertly handles the multiple stories he’s telling in this issue. It comes as no surprise that this all reads as well as it does. And Ed McGuinness and Cory Smith absolutely nail the artistic side of things, making what may seem like a simple issue of AVENGERS feel even better than it should.

There’s more than one threat looming on the horizon for the Avengers. Let’s just hope they’re ready for whatever comes next.

AVENGERS #11 by Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, and Cory Smith
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
AVENGERS #11 succeeds in that it takes the time to build on multiple facets in play in Aaron's story. Which is definitely required, following the events of AVENGERS #10. And not only does everything read well, but it all looks fantastic to boot.
92 %
Calm Yet Impactful

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