The Shadow Colonel and his Legion of the Unliving have been tearing apart the vampire side of the Marvel Universe. At long last, AVENGERS #17 sees an end to the Colonel’s bloody game. Not only that, but we also dive deep into the minds of both Dracula and Blade, giving us some further insight into this damned conflict.

Writer Jason Aaron hasn’t just established a fearsome new villain, he’s also built a titanic conflict with this vampire war. It’s grown to encompass the Avengers, the Winter Guard, and the Legion of the Unliving. And this battle has hit the Avengers harder than they could have anticipated. But finally, we get some well-deserved, and somewhat surprising, closure to the arc.

Aaron is joined once again by artist David Marquez and colorist Erick Arciniega. Their work hasn’t failed to impress at all during this entire arc. Their hot streak of artistic beauty continues in AVENGERS #17.

It’s Blade Vs. the Shadow Colonel in AVENGERS #17

AVENGERS #17 picks up back in Russia, with the Winter Guard’s Red Widow still having her demented fun with Dracula. This segment is more or less dedicated to helping us get in Dracula’s head. And even as the Winter Guard taunt and ridicule Dracula, eventually sending him to the abandoned lands of the Chernobyl wastes, the Lord of the Damned still feels oddly in command…

We then cut back to that Russian prison where the Legion is on the offensive, creating their own new vampires. It doesn’t take long for the Avengers to arrive. This is the epic, climactic battle we’ve been waiting for, and it doesn’t disappoint. Blade goes toe-to-toe with the Shadow Colonel, while the rest of the team (including Thor’s murder dog Thori) deals with the rest of the Legion.

AVENGERS #17
AVENGERS #17 page 4. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Blade and the Colonel take center stage throughout this fight, trading blow after crushing blow. This sequence is satisfyingly brutal and bloody; it feels almost unexpected for a book like AVENGERS. When things look their worst for Blade, Ghost Rider returns to the fight to knock the ever-living shit out of the Shadow Colonel.

Blade, being the vampire hunter he is, sees only one way to truly end this threat. And though Black Panther would like to avoid that, it doesn’t stop Blade from chopping the Colonel’s head clean off with the help of the Colonel’s Boy-Thing, which switched sides.

In the aftermath, the Avengers suspect this entire vampire conflict isn’t exactly finished yet. Thus, Blade decides to stick around for a while longer. Also, there’s a reason it felt like Dracula was still in command of this whole situation. I won’t exactly spoil the ending, but I’m willing to bet some readers might see it coming.

AVENGERS #17 Has a Climax Worthy of the MCU

With this whole vampire war arc now officially concluded, I can say without a doubt it’s one of my favorite Avengers arcs in recent history. AVENGERS #17 delivers on every important note a good conclusion should. Between giving us further character development (even if it’s nothing extraordinarily impressive) and an explosive final battle, Jason Aaron once again proves he understands the art of writing the Avengers.

The highlight of AVENGERS #17 is easily the fight between the Shadow Colonel and Blade. Their barking taunts and bloody combat make for a truly gratifying fight. This is the kind of fight scene you expect at the end of a good Marvel film, honestly. It even pushes the envelope quite a bit. Blade takes a wooden stake through his hand, for crying out loud! It’s awesome!

AVENGERS #17
AVENGERS #17 page 13. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

On top of that, we get to learn a bit more about what makes Blade and Dracula tick. Though this material easily takes a backseat to the action, it’s still enjoyable content to read. It both complements and contrasts the action depicted on the pages. Dracula’s monologue is a bit more intriguing; it fits the demeanor the character has carried throughout this arc. But then the ending hits, and it flips everything on its head.

Speaking of which, I’m a big fan of AVENGERS #17’s ending. Whether or not you see it coming, it’s a pretty fitting conclusion for an arc like this. It’s the kind of ending that you could/should easily see coming, but even after it happens, you’re still deeply satisfied with it. Again, it’s completely appropriate, and it does a great job of teasing more vampire action in the future. Leave it to Aaron to leave us with a gripping cliffhanger.

Ending on an Artistic High Note

Not only is Aaron’s writing on point in AVENGERS #17, but so is the art. David Marquez and Erick Arciniega gift us with even more golden pages. It feels like these two were right at home drawing and coloring this issue.

Marquez has a superb knack for drawing brutal yet smooth action sequences. His character depictions are so clean, it’s impossible to lose track of the flow of the action. Some of the pages feature the Avengers tackling huge amounts of vampires, and even those moments are crisp and easy to follow. They also look super badass to boot.

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AVENGERS #17 page 19. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Again, the highlight here is the Blade/Colonel fight. Half the reason this fight is so awesome is because of how it’s drawn. I don’t joke when I say it’s MCU worthy. The clean-flowing, bloody nature of this fight is mostly in thanks to how it all looks on the page. You feel every blow, slice, and eye zap. And when Ghost Rider shows up, you feel the power behind that punch. Not to mention, it’s great seeing the Rider knock off the Colonel’s mask, revealing the villain’s vampiric face somewhat.

Marquez and Arciniega haven’t slipped up once this entire arc, so it’s no shocker to see they nailed the finale.

From One War to Another…

There isn’t a single unsatisfying moment in AVENGERS #17. Between Aaron’s storytelling, and Marquez and Arciniega’s pages, there’s nothing not to like.

Jason Aaron, once again, perfectly blends characterization and gripping plot elements with insanely fun action. This is a textbook example of how to close out an arc. This arc as a whole, in fact, is a textbook example of good writing.

Marquez and Arciniega perfectly capture every ounce of Aaron’s exciting story, as well. This is an artist/colorist duo that needs to return to the book ASAP (since they’re out for the next couple of issues).

But just because the vampire war is done (for now) doesn’t mean the Avengers are out of the fire. If you’ve been following Jason Aaron’s THOR, or generally keep up with Marvel news, then you know that WAR OF THE REALMS is just over the horizon — which I’m sure won’t be good for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

AVENGERS #17 by Jason Aaron, David Marquez, and Erick Arciniega
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Jason Aaron has given us one of the best Avengers arcs in recent history. AVENGERS #17 is an explosive finale to a stellar arc. Coupled with Marquez and Arciniega's artwork, this is one issue you cannot miss.
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A Bloody Finale

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