Review: Avengers Academy #39 by Christos Gage and Tom Grummett

Avengers Academy #39
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher, and Chris Sotomayor

The short of it:

It’s all been building to this, as the book flat out opens with the Academy kids letting their faculty advisors know that they’ve been aware since day one that they were the dangerous potentially evil kids!

Yesterday is where the story goes from there, as we get to the resolution of our various sub plots in this, the final issue of Avengers Academy. X-23 confronts Finesse for using her like a weapon to kill Jeremy Briggs, and while she manages to not decapitate her friend…what she does is just as painful. Veil is helping Striker prepare for a prom, really, just helping him maintain his self esteem despite the nasty scars now crossing his face…which don’t bother his date at all. Hazmat and Mettle, however…they’re once again cursed in their current forms, but you would never think that given that they still have each other.

Really, it’s expected hook up central as just about everyone gets a little bit of romance in the night before the pages that began the issue. We find out what pissed off Hazmat enough to blurt out the dirty little secret, we find out which team members had no idea, and we find out…just how absolutely insane they were to believe that the Avengers still viewed them as potential threats.

That’s right, it’s a happy ending where the only confusion comes from Hank Pym making explanations wayyyyy too complicated. These kids are the Avengers of tomorrow, every last one of them…except for Veil. Without her powers it’s back to a normal life for her and the book ends just the way the very first issue began…only with a brand new attitude.

What I liked:

  • The book goes right back to where it started by reminding the reader that they’ve never actually bothered to confront the staff about the initial hook. So in other words, these kids have had the chip on their shoulder for thirty nine issues and are just now getting it off of their chests. Such a great way to start the issue.
  • Hook up central didn’t bother me in the least. I’ve been waiting for Julie Power and Karolina Dean to get together since they met back in Runaways.
  • Finesse was my favorite character in this book, and this isn’t a happy one for her. Her severe disconnect has made friends and relationships difficult, if not impossible, and this issue we really saw how it hit her. She actually showed emotion with realizing how much she had caused herself to lose, and it broke my heart a little bit.
  • Hazmat and Mettle get a happily ever after until Avengers Arena.
  • The symmetry of this book is great, the first issue opened with Veil walking through high school all wallflowery, only to be picked on by the popular kids and not know what to do about it. Seeing her beat the crap out of, essentially, the same kids? Great way to make me smile as the issue ends.
  • Tom Grummett may have capped off the series by drawing the final issue, but every artist to have tackled it deserves credit. It’s been one of the most consistently good looking books at Marvel since its inception. It features the rarity of teenagers looking like teenagers, even when side by side with adults. That doesn’t sound difficult, but I’ve seen many teen books struggle with it.

What I didn’t like:

  • Seriously, this is like….if Batgirl ending was a ten, this is a nine. I love every character in this book, and the only ones I know I’m going to see again for a fact are all going to the Battle Royale with Arcade book to become potential fodder.
  • With all of the hook ups that happen I’m a bit bitter that I won’t get to see how they pan out. Reptil is heading to Arena, but White Tiger seems to be heading for limbo. Striker is most likely heading to limbo as well with Julie Power and Karolina Dean. So Mettle and Hazmat will be the only remaining couple we’ll see in a book…but they’re going to the Arena as well, and we already have preview art of X-23 trying to slaughter Hazmat there.

Final thoughts:

When was the last time you saw a book thrive like this? Thirty-nine issues with a cast that banked on Hank Pym as it’s biggest name for the first two years, and eventually picked up Hawkeye and X-23. That’s the name value; Hank Pym, Hawkeye, and X-23. When this book was first announced I couldn’t wait to buy it, but at the same time, I expected it would be fortunate to last twelve issues. Now I’m sitting here upset to see it ending after lasting over three times that long, and I can only imagine if not for Marvel NOW! we might still see the book continue under Gage’s hands.

I’m going to miss Finesse the most of all. Of every character in this book, and I loved all of them (yes, even White Tiger and her “Do it for the Latinos” attitude), she’s the one who has had the best character arc, and have the most potential infused into her. The potential daughter of Taskmaster, she’s incapable of feeling but you always get the feeling that it’s not quite the case. She cried in this issue, and it made me cry. She pushed everyone away and left herself alone, playing the role of the villain, just because she did what she felt was logical.

I would kill for a Finesse ongoing by Gage, maybe even one where she teams up with Taskmaster.

So with Jan back in Avengers, are we ever going to see mention of Hank and Tigra again? They’ve been a good and organic couple, even the kid that is essentially his but isn’t because it was Skrull Hank’s.

Man, now I miss the Initiative. Are all my beloved Academy kids going to wind up in the same boat as Cloud 9 and Hardball? I can’t remember the last time I saw Cloud 9!

If Marvel did a full series omnibus for this, I’d pre-order it. And this is with my current stance on just getting reprints and collections digitally. I would kill to have this book all in one place and not have to assemble my single issues.

I guess I just want to end by saying thank you to Christos Gage for writing one of my favorite books over the last few years. Thank you to Marvel for not cancelling it or trying to drum up added interest to with shock value that never helps anyone. Thank you to the artists that gave us teenagers who look like teenagers. And thank you, again, to Christos Gage, for creating Finesse and giving me a character that I will miss most of all.

Overall: 10/10

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