Review: Avengers Assemble #14AU by Al Ewing & Butch Guice

Avengers Assemble #14AU

Written by: Al Ewing
Pencilled by: Butch Guice
Inked by: Tom Palmer
Colored by: Frank D’Armata
Lettered by: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel on Comixology.

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts on the day Ultron took over the world. Black Widow was enjoying a rare day off sitting in a coffee shop with her old friend Stuntmaster and his agent. Stuntmaster is trying to convince Natasha to help him set up a stunt where he jumps a motorcycle through buses juggled by the Hulk. Despite Stuntmaster’s Stark-designed prostetic hand (FORESHADOWING), Widow is enjoying “just being normal.”

People around them start to panick as word of a terrorist attack in New York is coming across people’s phones and tablets. MOre cities are being hit. Widow tries calling the Avengers, but the signal is bad. She believes someone is launching nukes. She tells Stuntmaster they need to get people someplace sage from fallout.

Suddenly, a squadron of Ultrons descend on them. The agent is killed. Widow and Stuntmaster go into sewers. Stuntmaster’s Stark-assigned prostetic hand causes him to get taken over by Ultron.

Widow is hurt pretty badly by Stuntmaster, losing an eye in his attack before she manages to kill him/

She flees through the city and finds Moon Knight also trying to survive. She takes him to one of Fury’s safehouses, which is where we find them in Age of Ultron issue 1.

Review: That is just about the least subtle cover ever. Was the giant BW taking up 1/2 the page really neccessary?? Bad enough the Avengers Assemble logo, and the Age of Ultron and Marvel Now cover dress already shrink the art, but the rest of it is taken up by a giant BW. I know this is a petty complaint, but it really annoys me every time I look at the cover of this book.

This issue did an awesome job of showing how deep a character Black Widow is and how much history she has. It reminds us that she started as a villain, talks about her time as a Champion, and how the other heroes tend to look at her now (badass super spy). We also see how she ended up teaming with Moon Knight, and also how she got the scar on her face, which was a genuinely sad story.

Another thing I liked about this book is that it actually takes the time to reconcile its continuity. Age of Ultron issue 1 has said that Black Widow was on a secret mission when Ultron struck. This issue reveals that isn’t true, BUT, she did tell that to Moon Knight to help keep him focused on her as a badass agent, and not as a girl who occassionally has days offs to have coffee with old teammates.

Also, I am finally glad to see a story that tells in some detail what happened when Ultron attacked! This is the story I’ve wanted to read since Age of Ultron began, and Ewing and Guice told it perfectly. The book shifts from a fun little walk through Black Widow’s history to kick it into full action and drama. I really never thought I would read a comic where I would feel an attachment to Stuntmaster!

There really isn’t enough good things I can say about the art of this book. I’ve been a Butch Guice fan for a real long time, and Tom Palmer is a legend in the industry. I especially loved the opening montage which introduces why Black Widow loves the city of San Francisco so much.

And it makes a hell of a bookend with the “Submit or perish” panel later on.

Frank D’Armata does a great job swapping the palate to go from “peaceful lunch with friends” to all out war with the Ultrons. I had complained in our Superior Spider-Man column that it didn’t feel like it was set in the same world as the rest of Age of Ultron, but this book really matches up well visually with the core mini.

So far all of the Age of Ultron tie ins have surprised me. They have told deep stories that really establish the characters or the setting. This one did both. I loved the opening of this book where we see the softer side of Black Widow, and the horrible decisions she is forced to make to survive and save others was just brutal. Age of Ultron is set in a pretty shitty version of the Marvel universe, and the right stories show why this has the potential to be one of the best crossovers I’ve ever read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Final Score: 8.5: This might be the best Black Widow comic I’ve ever read. Not that I’ve read a lot with her, mind you…

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