REVIEW: Avengers Academy #17 by Christos Gage and Sean Chen

Avengers Academy #17
Written by Christos Gage
Drawn by Sean Chen

Despite being a fan of the book since launch (although mildly bitter it took the places of the fantastic Avengers: The Initiative) I think with this issue Avengers Academy has finally come into it’s own niche. Previous youth centered titles like Runaways or Young Avengers both, in their own ways, dealt with the idea of a power vacuum. In the case of Runaways it was the one left after the Runaways took down the Pride and their continued reluctance to adopt roles as heroes. Young Avengers on the other hand, opened up with the vacuum left after Avengers disbanded and their wish to step up to the plate and fill the gap. AA seems to be approaching the idea of heroism through the lens of a wholly different gap – the one between the old vanguard of heroes and the young.

This is something we’ve seen in stories before, most prominently in Kingdom Come where the next generation of heroes is reckless an amoral, something that almost seems heavy-handed the more one really reflects on it. Here, in Avengers Academy #17 we see our heroes dealing with the fallout of the Washington Blitzkrieg and the all too popular message board debate of whether or not heroes should kill.

Hazmat, Mettle and Veil all spend the issue coming to grips with actions they took during the battle. Hazmat, while not explicitly sure she killed any of Sin’s Nazi-Mech riders, doesn’t seem too phased by the idea that she probably gave a few cancer. Both Mettle and Veil are a little more shaken by the lives they took but the issue is presented in a way much more reasonable than I’ve ever seen in a superhero comic. What’s shaking them to the core doesn’t seem to be the fact that they’ve “failed as heroes” as many of our favorite characters have lamented over the years after taking a life, whether accidentally or in a moment of anger, they’re as shaken up as anyone would be after taking a life. Unless of course they were a complete sociopath.

Or Finesse, who doesn’t seem to know how she feels about what happened during the battle. Of course given what we’ve seen about the character in the past, it wouldn’t be shocking for her to give one answer to merely hide her truly detached presence in the world. It’s highly possible she doesn’t care at all or it’s possible that she really doesn’t know how to feel, both states that a well adjusted person wouldn’t really be in.

Styker is a little more glib about the way his kill made him feel, which is perhaps a little worse than Finesse, definitely a little more villainous, but something about his attitude rings true. His viewpoint highlights a definite difference in the way a hero would feel about their everyday run-ins with Hyro-Man or The Spot versus “Yeah, Dr. Doom/Korvac/The Kree/Skrulls/Baddoon/whoever are here to destroy everything we hold near and dear to our hearts”

Of course all this musing is interrupted by the intrusion the newly empowered Titania and her beau, the Absorbing man who had decided the best way to hurt Hank Pym is to kill all his students and destroy the Infinite Mansion (something I’m personally upset about because I think it’s one of the best Avengers HQs ever)

Final Thoughts: As you can tell I really really really do love the idea of heroes discussing the idea of killing without getting all angsty and remorseful. The characters of AA seem to acknowledge that they’re more than just heroes representing ideals, they’re soldiers, and soldiers do their duty as best they can whenever they’re needed to. Oh, and then there’s the fact that Hazmat and Mettle are officially a couple now. How did I miss that?

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