Narrated by Striker, Avengers Academy suffers only from a lack of Tigra, who merits just two scant panels this issue. But the story’s still worth your coin and time.
Striker turns out to be the child of a celebrity-hungry woman, the Marvel version of Donna Rice, with whom Presidential hopeful Gary Hart had an affair. The appetites of Striker’s mother usher him into a life without love and childhood. In other words, no friends. No playing like a kid. Striker instead sought the next acting gig.
The mother’s passion for vicarious stardom unwittingly leads Striker into the hands of a child molesting agent. Here’s where the book could have gone completely off the rails. Gage could have let the molester succeed and instilled in Striker a hatred of humanity or deep, dark, brooding angst. Instead, he, Molina, and Hennessy temper the potential tragedy with comedy.
In the moment Rick the molester makes his move Striker discovers his powers. The crackle arrives in four beautifully timed panels. We see inside the limousine where it’s clear Striker has no way out. The molester occupies the foreground, a position of power. In the next panel, Gage and Molina frame a poignant shot of the limousine from a wide angle–the horror is conceived solely through the viewer’s imagination. In the subsequent panel the car undergoes a Jeromy Cox lightning attack and, in the final panel, the car dissolves into a smoking shambles.
A little more camera time focusing on the car would have resulted in an increase of tension. Did Rick triumph? Is Striker a victim? The immediacy of the lightning indicates Rick failed. The wreckage suggests Rick is dead. The entire scenario details the hilarious end of a loser who picked the wrong child to molest.
Other scenes weave seamlessly into a compelling story. In the opening Striker has an unusual, amusing encounter with Jocasta, and she serves as a silent listener to Striker’s biography. The tale consists of flashbacks, but not all are set deep in Striker’s past. The present segues into a recent encounter with Steve Rogers. He cleans the Cadets’ clocks and gives them practical tactical tips.
Striker’s attempts to hook up with Finesse and Veil fizzle and offer the reader more mirth. The Cadets cross paths with a classic Avengers foe and acquit themselves well in battle. Vance Astro proves that he still falls prey to his old jerk nature. Ultragirl can do way better. Here’s some friendly advice–when you’re making sweet monkey love to your chosen one, lock the door.