Last issue, the Cadets found the Hood living free and clear on the outside. They then beat the snot out of him as payback for what he did to Tigra. Tigra didn’t thank the Cadets. Instead, she expelled the students from Avengers Academy. Tigra is tough love.
Avengers Academy #9 sports 32 panels of terrific Tigra moments. She catalyzes the plot and the subplot. Her repressed feelings over the Hood’s assault directs her actions. As a result, she verbally attacks dullard Vance Astro (Justice) for his inappropriate, docile acceptance of Veil’s attraction. Her insults are cut as superbly as her claws. Tigra then crosses swords with Pietro, and he surprisingly becomes another voice of reason.
Tigra’s mere presence does not earn this title a perfect bullet score. Writer Christos Gage continues to do something brilliant with a noisome slice of continuity forced upon Tigra by Bendis. Gage considers Tigra’s feelings about the developments. Tigra’s not wrong, but her nuclear reaction toward the kids originates from her guilt. She secretly relishes watching the Cadets hand the Hood his ass. Who wouldn’t?
In Tigra’s opinion, a superhero should be above such primitive behavior, but she is not. That’s why she’s so quick to judge the Cadets’ actions and at one point so willing to resign her post. Tigra’s afflicted with a conscience. Part of her wants to continue breaking the Hood’s gang one by one and capping her revenge by eviscerating the punk himself. The better part of her wants to be a superhero.
Gage also looks at the far reaching consequences of Tigra’s decisions. Finesse takes advantage of her expulsion. She seeks Quicksilver’s help to track down the man she thinks is her father. It’s no surprise that Finesse believes the Taskmaster to be the guilty party.
If Mike McKone’s version of Tigra wasn’t so perfect, if Rebecca Buchman’s inks on her fur weren’t so lush or Jeromy Cox’s colors so exotically tawny, you might just forget about Tigra and concentrate on a visceral toe-to-toe battle between two near equal matches.
The art team’s partner in crime scripts choice dialogue that reflects generational characterization and really frames the personality of the Taskmaster; his strange admiration for fighting heroes conflicts with a desire to be a master criminal. Gage conceives of an intriguing limitation for Taskmaster that also explains why he remains a villain. A rational being really should stay on the straight and narrow. Taskmaster would indeed make an excellent hero, but he’s missing a component in his physical makeup that will always return him to the dark side.