“Strange Bedfellows” (Avengers #32 Comic Review)
Avengers #32 Comic Review
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Ed McGuinness & Francesco Manna
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales & Jason Keith
Variant Cover: Mike McKone & Andes Mossa
Earth’s Mightiest Villains
What You Need to Know
The Avengers are united once more and are focused on new challenges ahead. Unfortunately, the Avengers enemies are beginning to realize that maybe uniting against their common foe is better than fighting alone. What the Avengers and their enemies fail to realize is that they are all being played by a force more powerful than they can imagine.
What Just Happened
This issue begins with a flashback to the day Namor became king of Atlantis and a huge celebration that ensued. The issue flashes forward to present day with Namor at war with Roxxon and Atlantis in ruins. Namor drowns his sorrows at a bar deep in Atlantis. Namor is trying to avoid a war his fellow Defenders of the Deep want and a bartender at the bar suggests focusing the fight on a single enemy. The bartender suggests that Namor focus his rage on the Avengers. Namor believes the fight would be futile, and the bartender suggests that Namor look outside of Atlantis for allies that share a common hatred of the Avengers. The bartender asks if Namor knows about the vampire nation of Chernobyl.
In the Ukraine, Dracula is making vampires seeking to enter his new kingdom prove their strength by kneeling outside in the sun. Baroness Blood doesn’t believe this new vampire nation is strong enough to fight the Avengers with Blade on the team. Baroness Blood recommends that Dracula seek out allies that can help with their cause.
In Moscow, the Winter Guard returns from a mission and is welcomed by their butler. The butler recommends that the Winter Guard seek out an alliance with Namor and Dracula. Red Guardian becomes suspicious of his motives and kills him and asks the team to extract what the butler knows from his brain.
On Avengers Mountain, Black Widow asks Blade not to leave the team. Black Widow talks about her history and how the Avengers eventually accepted her as a reason for Blade to stay and that he’s earned his spot on the team. Thor brings Tony Stark up to speed on what happened in their out of space adventures and how they became the caregivers of the Starbrand. Thor announces he will be the Starbrand’s Godfather. Tony refuses to tell Thor about his adventures in the past and would rather focus on their next challenge.
Phil Coulson is on the phone with Mephisto and expresses doubts with having the Squadron Supreme of America align with Namor, Dracula, and the Winter Guard. Mephisto threatens to send Coulson back to Hell if he doesn’t cooperate. Coulson has a change a heart and pledges his and the Squadron’s loyalty to Mephisto. Mephisto reveals he was pulling the strings of all parties involved, he either took the forms of the bartender talking to Namor, Baroness Blood, and the Winter Guard’s butler, or he influenced them.
The plan seems to have backfired however as Namor realizes his allies need to be bigger than Dracula and the Winter Guard. Namor reveals he still has a fragment of the Phoenix Force inside him and he calls out to the Phoenix Force to try to channel all of its power.
A lot happens this issue, and it is the perfect jumping on point for new readers who haven’t followed this Avengers run. Mephisto continues to move his chess pieces across the board looking for the checkmate that will allow him to cause Hell on Earth. Jason Aaron lets the reader know that Mephisto is manipulating all the parties involved, but seeing it happen give the reader sick pleasure in seeing these characters march to their doom.
Namor is the first victim of Mephisto’s schemes. At this point of the issue Aaron makes it clear that something is manipulating these characters and if you’ve been following this book, you know it’s more than likely Mephisto. Namor is the King of a crumbling empire and he is desperate to return Atlantis to its former glory while protecting the oceans. Namor’s Defenders of the Deep are bloodthirsty and Namor is keeping them at bay, but Mephisto gives him the idea of uniting against a common threat. What Mephisto fails to realize is how ambitious Namor is. Namor’s idea of an ally has world breaking power.
We next check in on the developing vampire nation in Chernobyl. Dracula is putting prospective members of his new empire through a helluva initiation and yet he feels they are not powerful enough yet to come out of the shadows. Mephisto uses his influence to get Dracula to believe an alliance with Namor and Winter Guard could be beneficial.
Jason Aaron keeps us in Russia as we check in on the Winter Guard and how they are basically the Bizarro Avengers. They have their own mansion and their own butler. A butler who strangely has an idea that the Winter Guard should team up with other forces that also clash with the Avengers. The mysterious Red Widow is immediately suspicious and takes out the butler with extreme prejudice. Who is the Red Widow? Does she have any connection to Black Widow? Is Mephisto possessing people or is he shape shifting?
The Avengers get a break in this issue. They spend time bonding with the Starbrand baby (Starbaby? Babybrand?). I love Thor as the baby’s Godfather. It’s a little on the nose but it still fits. Tony Stark is clearly traumatized by his ordeal in the past, but true to his nature he buries how he feels to focus on future threats. Blade and Black Widow have a cool moment relating to each other regarding their pasts and how people perceive them. One of the OG Avengers giving Blade her blessing as an Avenger who has earned his place on the team was a cool moment. Especially as a Blade fan that feels he has been criminally underused. Can we please get a Blade ongoing Marvel???
Agent Coulson shows just enough humanity when interacting with Mephisto that makes you feel that he can be redeemed. Then you see Mephisto easily put him in his place and it makes you realize he really is a servant to evil. I wonder how the Squadron Supreme of America will feel about aligning with the Winter Guard, Dracula, and Namor. They have already crossed paths with some of these factions in the past and it did not go well. Also the Squadron is fighting against their programing and this may give them that extra push towards independence. There are so many plot points that can be picked up from here on out and I’m excited to see where Jason Aaron takes us next.
Ed McGuinness is back for this issue with Francesco Manna along for the ride. McGuinness mostly thrives in issues with heavy action but his art still works well for this subdued issue. Hulking warriors such as Namor, Thor, and Hyperion benefit greatly from McGuinness’ art. Jason Keith’s colors also brings McGuinness’ larger than life artstyle to fruition.
Summary Trouble is brewing for the Avengers. Their enemies are plotting independently, and are also being manipulated into joining forces to take the Avengers down. Meanwhile, the Avengers are regrouping after being trapped in space and in the past. Worst of all, the enemies seen in this issue aren’t even the next crisis the Avengers will face.