Review by Ian Keogh
This is very much a thrown together collection linked by writer Al Ewing and the 2015 Secret Wars crossover at Marvel. It contains the final two chapters of Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, continued from Open for Business, two chapters of Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders, which are a form of alternate universe variation, and a single chapter tying in with the 2013 Age of Ultron (no relation to the film).
Ewing’s comics are generally fun, and this is no exception. His preferred writing technique of stringing together snippets as if placing pieces of a jigsaw onto a board then uniting them isn’t ideal for shorter material, so he adapts. What follows is a countdown toward Secret Wars as the incursion of other Earths is now public knowledge, but with ethical issues underpinning both chapters. When is it right to kill? Is acting in secret the wisest course? Do the public have a right to know? There are several fine moments, not least the indignation and fury of Steve Rogers as the book opens. Mighty Avengers, even if it’s seemed otherwise at times, has always been about helping ordinary people, and a scene of two of them facing the end of the world is the best moment in the book, although there is a better story.
Luke Ross (sample art) illustrates everything in his pseudo-realist style, which is ideally suited to the tone of the chapters. His figures sometimes stiffen during action sequences, but these are few. The same applies to the Captain Britain sequence. Full-on action has always been a strength of Alan Davis’ art, but there’s little opportunity, and neither creator seems enthusiastic about Secret Wars and its chocolate box selection of alternate societies. There’s a halfway good idea in constructing a civilisation much like that overseen by Judge Dredd, and a very good one in reconfiguring War Machine as another early 2000AD favourite, but overall it fills pages instead of providing something worth re-reading.
The Age of Ultron tie-in, written a few years earlier, turns out to be the best story in the book as beyond attaching itself to the circumstance of the world being run by artificial intelligence Ultron, it’s relatively complete within itself. Captain Marvel arrives in the UK, there are some great primitive versions of Ultron, good art from Butch Guice, the Brian Braddock version of Captain Britain, and an interesting twist.
Both collections of Captain America and the Mighty Avengers give the impression that had Ewing been left to his own devices and free to follow his own plots through it would have been a better series overall.