I’d almost forgotten that there was a second run of Marvel Action: Avengers books being published, as the first issue in this run came out way back in March – which, as it’s 2020, feels like it was a few years ago at least. Luckily, this book doesn’t rely much on readers remembering the previous issue, and instead stands on its own as a fun, solo adventure.
Like the previous issue, this one deals with one of the members of the Avengers as they take a day off from hero work to unwind. This issue focuses on everyone’s favourite member of the Greatest Generation, Captain America. Never one to idly spend time doing nothing, Cap decides to spend his day at a local school, where he wants to talk about the benefits of being a hero for Career Day.
Being the fastidious man he is, Cap comes prepared with lesson plans, and handouts for the children; but his plans are quickly thrown out when he finds out he’ll be spending the morning with the Kindergarten class with another hero, Squirrel Girl. Together, these two very different heroes try their best to keep the kids entertained, but things take a strange turn when one of the elderly teachers turns out to be the retired villain Paste Pot Pete, who’s determined to show he’s still ‘got it’ by taking down the star spangled man.
This second wave of Marvel Action: Avengers books, written by Katie Cook, is definitely the more fun of the two. It doesn’t rely on real levels of threat to challenge our beloved, costumed heroes, but instead feels a lot more like the comics being produced in the Golden Age, where they were wacky adventures aimed at kids. As such, the book has a level of charm and enjoyment that tends to be lacking in the more adult-focused hero books, and is comparable to the campy fun you’d get from shows like Batman ’66 or Batman: Brave and the Bold.
The villain for this book, Paste Pot Pete, is played like one of those joke villains from the comics your grandparents would read, where they never tried to hurt anyone, and challenged heroes just to prove that they could, rather than being part of any larger scheme. This is why the villain here decides to take on Cap and Squirrel Girl: to prove that the older villains are better than the evil ‘Super’ villains of today, that a man with a tacky costume that shoots glittery glue at people might be silly, but they’re still capable. It’s great how Pete is never played as a ‘bad guy’, but instead treated as a man trying to recapture his glory days, and the heroes see this and treat him kindly because of it. It shows the nice side of being a hero, that sometimes it’s about showing compassion as much as it is throwing a punch.
I’m sure there’ll be some among you who read this issue and feel let down, hoping for big superhero action but left disappointed by a campy adventure. But there are dozens of comics designed for you published every month; this is something aimed at a very different audience, one that often gets overlooked, and this book gives them something great to sink their teeth into.
Marvel Action: Avengers 2.2 is out now from IDW Publishing.