“Hell is a Freeway” (Avengers #16 Comic Review)

Avengers #16 Comic Review

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: David Marquez

Colorist: Erick Arciniega

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover: David Marquez & Matthew Wilson

Variant Covers: Greg Hildebrandt

A Fistful of Blood

“Hell is a Freeway”

What You Need to Know

The Avengers still have a huge vampire problem, but they also have to bring Ghost Rider back from the Legion of the Unliving’s influence. Robbie Reyes is in Hell and Hell has tailored itself to torment him. Dracula is collaborating with the Winter Guard to share the wealth of knowledge he has acquired over the years. The Legion of the Unliving continues to hunt Dracula while moving to the next step of their plan to rule the Vampire Kingdom.

What Just Happened

The issue begins with Robbie Reyes in Hell. Hell for Robbie Reyes is a gridlocked freeway with Hell making light of Robbie’s Los Angeles upbringing. Robbie prays to any God or Devil that is listening to let him out of Hell and someone in Hell is listening and warns him against making deals he can’t live up to.

On Earth, Ghost Rider fights Thor, Captain Marvel, and Captain America to a standstill. Blade fights with Shadow Colonel’s dog Sarge. Black Panther battles Snowsnake, and She Hulk fights The Carpathian. Ghost Rider uses its penance stare on Captain Marvel but she is able to fight it off.

In Russia, Red Widow and the Winter Guard meet with Dracula to negotiate the terms to obtain the intel that he claims to have. Dracula states he only wants personal sanctuary to live out the rest of his days. Red Widow begins killing every consort Dracula ever had in front of him until she can prove that Dracula has given her every bit of information he has.

Back in Madripoor, Sarge mentions to Blade about a paradise and kingdom the Legion of Unliving is trying to create. Ghost Rider prepares to create a penance bomb to take down all the Avengers, but Blade bites Ghost Rider, allowing Robbie Reyes to take back control. Robbie apologizes to the team and Blade advises him to go home to his loved ones before they end up getting hurt.

Back in Russia, unbeknownst to the Winter Guard, the Legion of the Unliving has rigged the prison where Dracula is kept with rat bombs filled with vampire blood. These bombs are the next part in the Shadow Colonel’s plan. Create new, worthy, vampires.

Robbie Reyes is sent home from the Avengers after being deemed unfit for duty. What the rest of the Avengers don’t know is that Johnny Blaze confronted Robbie while he was in Hell. Johnny is the new King of Hell and promises to have more than words with Robbie the next time he shows his face in Hell.

My Thoughts

Jason Aaron and David Marquez have crafted another exciting issue of Avengers. The conflict between the Avengers, Winter Guard, and Legion of Unliving continues to be action packed. Aaron starts the issue with a nice touch with Robbie Reyes tortured by his own personal Hell. Anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows that traffic can feel like Hell and Aaron makes Robbie feel this literally. On Earth, Ghost Rider shows how formidable an opponent it can be as it fights nearly all of the Avengers to a standstill. The rest of the Avengers go one on one with different members of the Legion and it was pretty cool to see an all out brawl. Blade versus Sarge was a personal highlight for me. Sarge is one cool vampire dog. I would just say that I wish that some members of the Avengers were given more to do and that some of the Legion of the Unliving have not been given the proper development as characters. I hope Blade continues to be an active member of the Avengers. Blade has been a welcome addition these last few issues. Blade biting Ghost Rider to rid Robbie of the Legion’s influence was a cool effect and a nice way to turn the vampire methodology on its head. The Avengers look to be parting ways with Robbie for the time being and I hope it is not something that becomes perfect because Robbie has been the heart of this team. I feel more of these large battles are on the horizon with the likes of the Defenders of the Deep, Squadron Supreme, and Winter Guard lurking.

Speaking of the Winter Guard, the Red Widow proves why she intimidates the majority of her teammates when she murders every single vampire Dracula has interacted with in front of him. I still think Dracula is working some sort of angle, but even the Prince of Darkness was at a loss when witnessing the ruthlessness of the Red Widow. I’m very interested in the Legion of the Unliving’s next stage of their plan and how Dracula and the Winter Guard will respond.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise for me was seeing Johnny Blaze make an appearance. Johnny is the King of Hell and he seems less than enthused with his successor as the Ghost Rider. Does Johnny have anything to do with the Legion of the Unliving’s rise to prominence?

The art continues to be strong in this issue no matter who is the featured artist. Ghost Rider’s monstrous design continues to look menacing. The art does a great job of illustrating the chaos that the Legion of Unliving has left in its wake. Madripoor is still on fire from last issue and the Avengers are fighting amongst the flames.

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Marcus Freeman

Marcus Freeman

Bay Area bred, LA livin Blerd. Avid fan of comics, video games, music, wrestling, the Lakers, and the 49ers. Constantly catching up on DVR’d TV shows. Spends a little too much money at movie theaters. Also passionate about serving my community and providing the youth with tools for success.
Summary
With Robbie Reyes stuck in Hell, the Ghost Rider is wreaking havoc on Earth. The combined might of the Avengers is barely enough to beat the beast. The Winter Guard returns, but still hasn’t learned that having a vampire prisoner may not be the best idea. Can the Avengers stop the Legion of Unliving before they begin the next stage of their plan?
Good
  • Ghost Rider's personal Hell
  • Blade vs. Sarge
  • Red Widow is a savage
  • Johnny Blaze!!!
Bad
  • Not all the Avengers have much to do (Where's Iron Man?)
  • Some members of the Legion of the Unliving need to be fleshed out as characters
9
Amazing
Story - 9
Art - 9.5
Character Development - 8.5
Written by
Bay Area bred, LA livin Blerd. Avid fan of comics, video games, music, wrestling, the Lakers, and the 49ers. Constantly catching up on DVR’d TV shows. Spends a little too much money at movie theaters. Also passionate about serving my community and providing the youth with tools for success.

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