The Age of Heroes mini-series continues with preludes to upcoming series and quick look at minor characters from Dark Reign stories. Gravity tries to leave his costumed life behind him, but a young villain reminds him of the need for heroes. The armored American Son makes an unexpected comeback, and a young reporter is determined to prove it’s Harry Osborn. Avengers Initiative trainer Gauntlet joins Marines in Afghanistan. And the Young Masters stand around talking for two pages.
The Young Masters section is the weakest of the four. I’ve never heard of these kids except in their handbook entry. Apparently, they’re the children of super-villains who tried to be the darker version of the Young Avengers. But all we get from this book is:
Some of them have the same names of old Avengers foes.
One of them is crazy.
One of them is seeing a Young Avenger.
They’re worried they may be seen as villains in the new heroic age.
A lot of potential ideas, but it doesn’t quite come together as a premise. We learn more about Gauntlet in his one page throwaway strip.
By the way, speaking as a member of the armed forces, I’d like to thank Marvel for making those free comics given away at the BX and PX stores. But these “soldiers are the real heroes” stories in comics are getting old. If you really want to show your support of the military, offer something more substantial. Like special subscription discounts to servicemen. Or sending free comics and TPBs downrange. Even small bases have libraries and morale centers.
I don’t follow the Spider-Man comics, but I know how Harry Osborn was offered the role of American Son and ultimately refused. This prologue about a new Son sets up the upcoming mini-series nicely. A young reporter is determined to learn the true identity of American Son to further her career. Spider-Man is disturbed by the hero’s violent methods. It’s a good introduction to and a good hook for the story. My only complaint here is Ben Urich is drawn too young. I’ve never seen him with brown hair, not even when he was introduced in the 1970s.
But the real star of the book is Gravity’s story. It shows why puts his costume back on and it’s for the noblest of reasons. Even in a world full of superheroes, there’s always need for someone else to help. His fight against the villain isn’t neat. Two people die when Gravity underestimates his opponent. But instead of felling guilty over it, he presses on to defeat the villain and rescue other people. It’s a dramatic and emotional new beginning for a compelling character.
The villain, incidentally, is part of a new team of young villains called the Bastards of Evil. They’re the, “unwanted sons and daughters of super-villains.” Which makes the Young Masters redundant as well as confusing.
I like the format of Age of Heroes. It’s an anthology series that has stand alone stories that also tie into other series. The art styles differ greatly from each other, but they’re all good. The Young Masters story felt like a waste of time. Gauntlet’s single page fells like a cheat. We’re led to expect a complete story, and basically just get a Marine PSA. Overall, this is a solid book I’ll be following to the end. I won’t be picking up any of the follow-up series though. My budget’s too tight. I’m entertained enough by what’s here, and I hope Marvel continues to publish series like this in the future.
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