One of the bigger milestones in the history of the original Avengers comics was probably when the last of the original team left for a period and a whole new line-up formed around Captain America made up of reformed villains Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye. The team quickly gelled and the idea that the Avengers would and could have a revolving membership that didn’t have to include people like Thor or Iron Man was born.
The recent mini-series Four seeks to bridge the gap between that team’s first and second issues, showing how they went from an underpowered grab-bag of people to a solid, legitimate superhero team worthy of the name ” the Avengers”.
The basic plot runs like this: the original Avengers leave Captain America with a group they handpicked, one even he’s rather dismissive of at first. They get their heads handed to them by the Frightful Four, but soonafter meet a mysterious young woman named Cressida. Cressida is from a small village in Thailand, and she’s being menaced by cosmic entity the Stranger, but she has the ability to amplify the powers and skills of those around her, and with this skill she’s able to boost the Avengers’ individual abilities (even Hawkeye’s) enough to drive the Stranger off. She quickly joins the team as a secret fifth member that they refer to by the codename Avenger X.
However, it probably isn’t much of a surprise, given this story is set in the past and she’s never been seen before on any Avengers roster, that Avenger X has a secret of some kind. Her powers don’t work exactly as advertised, and she’s hardly the sweet, innocent girl she claims to be.
That’s actually something of a problem for the book’s primary antagonist. Her motivation is rather all-over-the-place. She first claims she’s looking for revenge, but later gives another motive, and if she had revenge on her mind against the Avengers in general, we’re never told why. Writer Mark Waid is usually more reliable than that, even if he has the rest of the book down pretty well. Hawkeye in particular is portrayed as a jerk, but also the craftiest, a man who believes he deserves to be on the team even when everyone else (including Cap) are quick to dismiss him as just a carny with a bow. However, he does have a better grasp on things than many of the others, and is portrayed as something of a strategist. Waid’s longtime frequent collaborator Barry Kitson provides most of the artwork, and he does fine, though the last chapter was drawn by a couple different artists, most notably longtime Marvel artist Mark Bagley. The story isn’t bad, but felt largely unessential. Eight and a half Mad Thinker beatdowns out of ten.
NEXT MONTH: That does it for this month’s Bento box. Next month’s theme is, apparently, “Bento gets wet!” So, lots of books set in the water. Probably something with Fathom in it.