Avengers Academy is probably one of the best new series to pick up, particularly if you’re looking to get into Marvel Comics, and are confused where to start. Like it’s philosophical predecessor Avengers: The Initiative, Academy uses a cast of new, young characters training with veteran characters, as a way of creating an easy in-point on Marvel history both past and present.
Here, the hook is that this class of super-powered teens aren’t necessarily the next Thor, or Captain America – they’re the next Doctor Doom, or Loki. Heavily damaged by Spidey’s arch-nemesis Norman Osborn while he was running the American secret forces (way too long to explain here how that happened), each of the students has the potential to be the next great Avengers villain. Instead of letting that happen, the Avengers set ‘em up with a few teachers who have also walked the dark path, and pushed through. The teachers train the students to use their powers, but also offer object lessons in how to do the right thing.
Problem is, it’s so much more fun to do the wrong thing.
Here’s a rundown of the members of the team, as well as the staff:
Has photographic reflexes, and is kind of a robot. Not literally, she just studies everything that happens and deals with it logically, rather than emotionally. May be the daughter of Avengers villain Taskmaster, which we’ll be dealing with soon.
A regular surfer dude, who one day had his skin peel away, revealing the red, metal body beneath. He can’t feel anything, and is super strong. No, I don’t know how his eyeballs don’t fall out.
Probably the most heroic member of the group, Humberto Lopez can shape-shift into a dinosaur, or just turn his limbs into dino limbs. He’s kind of stuck in with these possible villains, with no clear way out.
He’s the cocky rich kid of the group, sure of his own attractiveness, powers, and most likely to get everyone into trouble.
Able to turn into a puff of smoke, Veil is slowly dying because of her powers, and will eventually disappear into nothingness. She’s a naïve Midwestern type, but bitter about the potentially short lifespan ahead of her. She also has a huge crush on Justice.
Vance Astrovik, former Avenger and New Warrior; he went to jail for killing his own father, but reformed, and was paroled.
Also a former New Warrior, Speedball used to be jokey and fun, and then he blew up a school accidentally. Now he’s just kind of bitter and weird. He has bouncing powers.
Tiger-lady with a young tiger-baby, she has a feral side that comes out sometimes, and a short temper that comes out all times.
Pym is best known for hitting his wife, the Wasp, which he can’t seem to get past. He’s in charge of the school, a scientist, and keeps screwing up, big time.
The son of Magneto, Quicksilver runs fast, and is a total a-hole. He’s directly responsible for destroying nearly the entire Mutant race, but pretended it was a shape shifting Skrull who did it. Oops.
So basically, everybody is close to being a head case. Fun times! But really, fun times. There’s a good sense of humor in the book, despite the generally dark proceedings.
That said, here’s where we are now: Tigra was beaten up by a bunch of supervillains, who videotaped it. To get in Tigra’s good graces, a few of the students beat up the villain in charge – The Hood – and videotaped that, uploading it to YouTube. Tigra wasn’t pleased: she had just gone on national television and announced she was opening a program to help victims of violence, and the students reveled in it. So she kicked ‘em all out of the school.
That’s pretty much all you need to know! There’s some ongoing soap opera elements, but writer Christos Gage does a great job of getting you caught up in each issue. And yes, there’s a sprawling cast of characters, but each issue tends to focus on developing a few, rather than, say, one page with each character and then you’re done. For new Marvel fans, and old, this is a great pick-up, with some complicated storytelling that doesn’t shy away – or trivialize – big issues. And that’s your Five Minute Recap!