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Avengers #5: Review

Feb 2013
Jonathan Hickman, Adam Kubert

Story Name:

Superguardian

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #5 Review by (February 10, 2013)
The translation of Adam's Builders machine code word to his name Blackveil appears at first sight to be a simple letter substitution code, because the Builder-code word has the same number of symbols as Blackveil. The fact that the L's are represented by 2 different characters may belie this, or it may be a mistake. Such transliteration would have honourable ancestry. DC use it for the Legion's Interlac. The Avengers appear to use Manifold to get them to the outer space battle, not the Shi'ar stargate. But maybe he just hops them to and from the gates. I shouldn't think he could really jump interstellar distances. Izzy's grandfather's name Dan Dare may be an in-joke, referring to the Pilot of the Future in the old UK Eagle comic. But then he does say Izzy has a birthright passed down through the generations.

The Imperial Guard was of course based on DC's Legion of Super-Heroes. The revised organisation of Superguardians and Subguardians mentioned here overcomes a problem I have long had with the Legion. A large number of characters in both teams come from a world where their 'super-power' is the norm. But in general only 1 person from that world presents themselves to the Legion, and their power is then treated as something special. This issue sets out a more reasonable approach, where several people from a world bring their common power to the Imperial Guard, and become Subguardians. The best of them is made the current Superguardian of that time. The system is tweaked such that Guardians with a specific power needn't all come from the same world. The idea of a Superguardian Elite was introduced in the storyline including NXM#122. The term was also used by an alternate reality Imperial Guard in Exiles #87-88. But I believe this is the 1st actual mention of Subguardians. There are 2 different old Smashers involved in this story. The one in NXM#122 was the original, Vril Rokk, who went on to be killed by Vulcan in Uncanny X-Men #480. There have been several replacements since then. The latest version, Galin, was introduced without fanfare at the end of Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard, made a brief appearance in Thanos Imperative #1, and now he's dead too.

This is the 2nd of 3 origin issues. Next time it's the turn of Captain Universe. The Avengers roster board just highlights Captain America, Falcon, Hulk, Manifold, Smasher and Wolverine, the team that goes to the Shi'ar moon. The Lilandra flashback is the battle on a Shi'ar spaceship in (New) X-Men #122, Immundra's only appearance. There Smasher (Vril Rokk) left the field in Iowa and went on to warn the X-Men that Cassandra Nova had taken over the Imperial Guard and the Shi'ar spaceship and is on the way to kill them. Smasher's exospecs were shown to have the download capabilities in NXM#122. I have described the Guardsmen seen in the Lilandra flashback and the initial moon battle in the body of the synopsis. When our Smasher arrives on Chandrilar we see in Gladiator's throne room G-Type, Oracle, Starbolt, Warstar and someone I can't identify. When Gladiator comes to the rescue he is accompanied by G-Type, Mentor, Neutron, Starbolt, Titan and a mystery (to me) female. The final interrogation scene includes, as well as Gladiator, Manta and Oracle, someone who looks like Ulik the Troll



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The now-usual 'previously' page of recycled images this time just summarises Tony Stark and Steve Rogers' expansion of the Avengers. This issue concerns the origin of new member Smasher, and there is very little about the ongoing plotline.

A proper flashback shows Empress Lilandra and some of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard losing a battle. As Guardsman Immundra dies, Lilandra sends the original Smasher to warn Earth. He lands in a field in Iowa, and a bit of a lens from his mask falls out.

The lens fragment was later found by Isabel Dare, who lives on the Iowa farm with her father and grandfather (Dan). She studied Astronomy and 'other space stuff', but came home to help out when her mother died.

Later the lens fragment used Izzy's telescope to access Shi'ar transmissions via a cloaked stargate the Shi'ar have in the Sol system. It created a complete pair of exospecs, and then the rest of a Smasher uniform for Izzy. Then it downloaded lots of Shi'ar tech.

Izzy flew via the stargate to the Shi'ar homeworld Chandilar, where Gladiator of the Imperial Guard was now Emperor (since the end of War of Kings). While there she was inducted into the Guard as a Subguardian. (It turns out there are lots of Smashers in the Guard. Only one of them gets to be the Smasher, member of the elite Superguardians.)

A month later she returned home, to find her grandpa dying. He told her she had a special 'birthright'. And gave her an Avengers card, with a message from Steve Rogers promising Dan help whenever he needed it. We are to take this as leading to Izzy's Avengers membership.

Now, in Avengers Tower, Cannonball and Sunspot come to Tony Stark to find out where the rest of the team have gone. Stark has been learning the language of 'Adam' (from #3), and has found that his name is really Blackveil.

Smasher has been called to the aid of the Imperial Guard, and has taken some of the Avengers (Captain America, Falcon, Hulk, Manifold and Wolverine) with her. It is the scene from the preamble to #1, with (some of) the Guard (Manta, Oracle, Warstar and the current Superguardian Smasher) being 'broken on a dead moon'. They and some Shi'ar warships are vastly outnumbered by an attacking force. Warstar is down and Smasher is dead.

Cap sends out his troops. Hulk and our Smasher go smashing spaceships. Manifold joins them by teleporting one ship into another. Cap and Wolverine (and Oracle) take on the ground troops, with Falcon (and Manta) as air support. They hold the line until joined by Majestor Gladiator and other Imperial Guardsmen arrive.

After the battle is over, our Smasher is promoted to being Smasher of the Superguardians, the 1st human member of the Imperial Guard, to replace the dead one.

Later, back on Chandilar, interrogation of the enemy reveals that they weren't actually invading the Shi'ar Empire. In fact they were fleeing from someone else.


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Adam Kubert
Adam Kubert
Frank Martin
Dustin Weaver (Cover Penciler)
Dustin Weaver (Cover Inker)
Justin Ponsor (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Falcon
Falcon

(Sam Wilson)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Wolverine
Wolverine

(James Howlett)

Plus: Adam (Nightmask), Cannonball, Gladiator (Kallark), Imperial Guard, Manifold (Eden Fesi), Smasher (Izzy Kane).