For a short while now, writer Jason Aaron has been teasing a new Marvel civil war. But, thankfully, this one doesn’t involve our heroes fighting each other. This one involves the Marvel Universe vampires. And their civil war has come to a head in AVENGERS #14.

Personally, I’ve never cared much for vampires, whether they be in some fantasy setting or in the Marvel Universe. This new Avengers arc, however, might just change that. It’s all thanks to the arc’s main antagonist, the Shadow Colonel. This new villain is insanely imposing, and his Legion of the Unliving probably don’t take shit from anybody.

Returning for this new, bloody arc is artist David Marquez, with colorist Justin Ponsor backing him up. I’m always happy to see these two names on any comic, and for good reason. Their smooth and crisp pages are exactly what this story needs; if there’s any guy who can make a new super group look super dangerous, it’s David Marquez.

Absolutely Nothing Bodes Well in AVENGERS #14

AVENGERS #14 opens with a gruesome scene in Transylvania. The Shadow Colonel and his Legion of the Unliving (all of which are vampires themselves) have torn Count Dracula’s castle apart effortlessly. Immediately, we get the sense that these guys don’t fuck around.

From there, AVENGERS #14 jumps around to various different scenes around the world. We see how the vampire civil war is affecting the rest of the world. Vampires are running absolutely rampant, and the Avengers have to do whatever they can to help. Thankfully, Blade just joined the team, and it’s 100% awesome! I mean, he’s got silver-bladed nunchucks. That’s pretty damn cool.

AVENGERS #14
AVENGERS #14 page 4. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Elsewhere, vampires are swarming Wakanda’s vibranium mines, central Romania, and the monster underworld beneath Manhattan. Iron Man and Black Panther are dealing with invaders in Wakanda, Captain America and Thor are handling the Romania situation, and She-Hulk and Ghost Rider are in the monster city. The latter situation proves the most interesting, ultimately, as a slimy devil appears before Ghost Rider. If you’ve been following the pre-historic Avenger adventures, you’ll know exactly who this guy is.

Eventually, the Shadow Colonel surrenders himself to Cap and Thor in Romania. They take him back to Avengers Mountain, where Blade does his best to interrogate the masked vampire. It doesn’t go well, though, as the team basically figures the Colonel meant to be captured.

Meanwhile, Sarge (the Legion’s grisly-looking hellhound) has a hellish chat with Ghost Rider, somehow compelling the Spirit of Vengeance to bend to his will. And nothing good ever happens when you get the Spirit of Vengeance turned against you.

AVENGERS #14 Balances Urgency and Intimidation

There’s a lot going on in AVENGERS #14. Jason Aaron spends a lot of time jumping from scene to scene, giving us a broad understanding of how impactful the vampire threat is to the entire world. Because of this, we unfortunately don’t get to see much of the Shadow Colonel’s Legion. However, per usual, this appears to be less than a minimal hindrance to Aaron’s storytelling abilities.

Even though the only members of the Legion we really get to see in AVENGERS #14 are the Colonel and Sarge, we’re still able to glean that these guys mean business. The moment the entire group appeared in the beginning, I knew the Avengers were in trouble. It’s easy to assume this arc is going to get really explosive in due time. I can’t wait to see more of the Legion in subsequent issues.

AVENGERS #14
AVENGERS #14 page 7. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

While we don’t see much of the Legion as a whole, the tradeoff is a better understanding of how huge this vampire civil war is. We’ve got vamps taking over planes and invading Wakanda’s vibranium mines. Those don’t sound like actions the typically-reclusive vampires would take unless absolutely necessary. It’s clear the vampires are afraid of the Legion and are willing to do whatever it takes to survive. If that means putting innocents at risk, then so be it.

So, between the brutally intimidating Legion and the overwhelming vampire threat, the Avengers clearly have their hands full. Though Aaron doesn’t go drastically deep into either aspect, we get a clean story, nevertheless.

Bloody Artwork Befitting a Bloody Story

I’m so happy to see Marquez and Ponsor working on AVENGERS again. Their work here in AVENGERS #14 is as clean as I normally expect from these two. Like I said before, these are the guys you call when you need to make a new super group look obnoxiously imposing.

The Shadow Colonel’s design is incredibly simplistic, but it grabs your attention immediately. His thick armor suggests a broad build, he’s carries a minigun that shoots wooden stakes as bullets (the ammunition for which comes from a chained-up, miniature Man-Thing), and he has these persistent red eyes on his mask. This is not a guy I would ever want to go up against. Granted, I’d never want to go up against any Marvel villains, but this guy especially.

AVENGERS #14
AVENGERS #14 page 11. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The rest of the Legion and vampires featured in AVENGERS #14 look equally frightening. Not only that, but the action featured here is as crisp as you could hope for. The scenes jump so often, but the pages never fail to impress. I give props to Ponsor for capturing the mood-lighting for each scene so perfectly.

We’ve essentially got this entire arc to enjoy Marquez and Ponsor’s artwork, which makes me very happy. If AVENGERS #14 is any indicator, we’ve got a lot of good things to look forward to.

The New Lord of the Damned

Before AVENGERS #14 closes, the Shadow Colonel declares himself the new Lord of the Damned. And though he wants to wipe out the “old order” vampires who won’t bend the knee, he still has no heart for humans. Should this guy get what he wants, it’ll be bad news for pretty much the whole world. So, you know, a typical Wednesday for the Avengers.

The Colonel is a new breed of villain, and Jason Aaron does a great job of introducing him in AVENGERS #14. He’s got a presence that demands your attention and the might to back it all up. And though the Avengers have tons of power to keep them going, the Legion have some dark magic to help them along the way. It’ll be interesting to see how this conflict pans out.

David Marquez and Justin Ponsor are at the top of their game in AVENGERS #14. These pages remind me of their work from CIVIL WAR II, which I think is some of their best. I’m eager to see what else they bring to the table down the line.

At the end of the day, AVENGERS #14 leaves me scared. There’s no telling what might happen next. I just really hope Ghost Rider doesn’t break everything.

AVENGERS #14 by Jason Aaron, David Marquez, and Justin Ponsor
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Jason Aaron does a great job balancing the scope of this new story and the presence of his new villains. The Shadow Colonel is already a great villain. And David Marquez and Justin Ponsor deliver nothing but the best with their glorious pages.
95 %
A Bloody Good Time

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