Marvel Adventures Avengers: Thor and Captain America

By Paul Tobin, Scott Gray, Todd DeZago, Ronan Cliquet, Ron Lim, Lou Kang & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5584-3 (Digest PB)

In 2003 the House of Ideas instituted a Marvel Age line: an imprint updating classic original tales and characters for a newer, younger readership. The enterprise was modified in 2005, with core titles reduced to Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. The tone was very much that of the company’s burgeoning TV cartoon franchises, in delivery if not name.

Supplemental series including Super Heroes, The Avengers, Hulk and Iron Man chuntered along merrily until 2010 when they were cancelled. In their place came new volumes of Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man.

Most of the re-imagined tales were collected in gleefully inviting digest-sized compilations and digitised; this – except for a electric version – was the case with this engaging ensemble featuring fabulous  forays starring the God of Thunder or Sentinel of Liberty and their Avenging allies: a quartet of all-ages tales from the second volume of Marvel Adventures Super Heroes (#13-16, spanning June-September 2011).

The action opens with a mythological masterpiece by Paul Tobin, Ronan Cliquet & Amilton Santos wherein plucky novice hero Nova is invited by Avenging comrades Thor and Valkyrie to accompany them on an annual errand for All-Father Odin.

In the distant past when Asgardians warred with Trolls, godling messenger Glane failed in his mission and was banished to the ghastly Fields of the Fallen to pay penance by continually battling the Golden Realm’s vilest enemies. Periodically, Thor has been sent to add new tasks to the sinning failure’s heavy burden, and this year – as the Thunderer and Valkyrie ready themselves for the trip – they invite starstruck neophyte Nova along.

However, as the trio war their way through horrific monsters and overwhelming odds, Nova finds himself increasingly uncomfortable with the sentence meted out to Glane. He even begins doubting the motives of his immortal mentors. All that changes once he meets and battles beside the convicted penitent…

Originating in MASH #14, ‘Out of Time!’ is by Todd DeZago, Ron Lim & Scott Koblish (inspired by Gerry Conway & Ross Andru’s tale from the original Marvel Team-Up #7). Here, the Lord of Storm intercepts Spider-Man after the wallcrawler is blasted high into the sky whilst battling raving maniac the Looter.

That happy coincidence occurs just a bizarre force freezes time around them. When the heroes discover that only they have escaped a devastating weapon deployed by Trollish tyrant Kryllk the Conqueror to paralyze and overwhelm both Asgard and the mortal plane, they must divide their strength to simultaneously smash the conqueror in Manhattan and Asgard if they are to set time running free again…

Captain America takes the spotlight in #15 as ‘Back in Time’ (Tobin, Cliquet & Santos) finds him battling Neanderthals with ray-guns in a National Forest after tracking down rogue geneticists who have stolen a huge amount of plutonium.

A mere mile away, Peter Parker’s girlfriend Sophia Sanduval is getting back to nature and chilling with her furry, scaly and feathered friends. As Chat, the mutant teen’s power to communicate with animals makes her a crucial component of the mystery-solving Blonde Phantom Detective Agency, but even she has never seen anything like the wave of extinct creatures which appear after Cap begins battling the tooled-up cavemen.

Soon Chat has been briefed on the deadly experiments of rogue technologist Jerrick Brogg. The villain’s ambition is to build an army out of revived extinct creatures, but she and helps The Star-Spangled Avenger frustrate those save all the beasts he has re-created from short painful lives of terror and brutal exploitation, before putting the maniac away for good.

Wrapping up the action comes ‘Stars, Stripes and Spiders!’ by DeZago, Lou Kang & Pat Davidson (based on Len Wein & Gil Kane’s tale from Marvel Team-Up #13). When a certain wallcrawling high-school student/occasional masked hero stumbles into Captain America tackling an AIM cadre stealing super-soldier serum, the nervous lad learns a few things about the hero game from the legendary guy who wrote the book. Sadly, not making that lesson any easier is petrifying supervillain Grey Gargoyle, whose deadly touch almost ends Spidey’s homework worries – and continued existence – forever…

Fast, furious, funny and enthralling, these riotous mini-epics are extremely enjoyable yarns, although parents should note that some of the themes and certainly the level of violence might not be what everybody considers “All-Ages Super Hero Action”…
© 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.