If you haven't been reading Avengers Academy, you're out of luck. This review reveals the identity of the mystery villain from last issue. So, if you don't want to know, read no further than the following. It's another beautifully written, richly characterized, gorgeously illustrated issue of Avengers Academy with enough Tigra coverage to please any fan.
This Beats Spoiler Ahoy Any Day
Way back in Rom Spaceknight, Rogue got her first literal taste of goodness. Rogue kissed Rom to absorb his power, but Rom lacked superpowers. Rom possessed absolute altruism, and that's what Rogue absorbed.
After her encounter, Rogue threw in with Rom to fight a half-human/half Dire Wraith abomination called Hybrid. Mystique intended to leave with her Sisterhood of Evil Mutants while Rom and Hybrid battled to death, but Destiny foresaw an abhorrent future in which all the superpowered women of the world became Hybrid's unwilling breeders. Mystique had no choice. She and Destiny combined forces with Rom and Rogue to decimate Hybrid.
Rogue latched onto Hybrid and leeched as much power from him as she could. Rom then banished the hobbled creature to limbo, and it looked like he went in pieces. I haven't the foggiest how Hybrid escaped certain death, or certain banishment, but last issue, the Avengers rescued an orphaned mutant that turned out to be Hybrid, a fact known only to Reptil, who has his own scheme in play.
One of the things I like about this issue of Avengers Academy is that Hybrid's agenda hasn't changed an iota. He still intends to kill every lifeform on the planet except the superpowered women. As in the past, he plans to rape and sire offspring with them.
There's a helluva lot of this type of scum in the Marvel Universe. The Purple Man, The Mandril and Starfox all have this sleazy ability to bend women to their wills, and they use their powers exactly how you might think. Fortunately, it's difficult to hold in your laughter when gazing upon the awesomeness of the Purple Man and the Mandril. I mean, yeah, in the real world, however they looked, they would be dangerous, but in the safety net of comics, the Purple Man and Mandril are absurd.
Originally, Starfox was a benevolent alien Kree God from Titan. His creators never, ever intended for his powers to be abused. Dan Slott's to blame for that one. Hybrid though is a different animal. If you could see what a rapist's mind looks like, you would see something that looks like Hybrid. Truly, this is one of the ugliest things ever created for the Marvel Universe, and it may be the ugliest thing ever created in the history of comics. Furthermore, we glimpsed what Destiny saw, and it ain't pretty. Just the thought of any character making it with Hybrid makes you recoil. I wouldn't even wish this on the Chick Red Skull, and she's second generation Nazi.
Hybrid's focused plan in short offers numerous challenges for writer Christos Gage. First, he can't allow Hybrid to succeed. If Gage were going to address rape in Avengers Academy, he certainly wouldn't use Hybrid to do it. So, instead, he plausibly establishes that Hybrid suffers from low batteries. This flicker of power may refer to the outcome of the original battle against Rom and Rogue. Hybrid's diminished strength gives Gage a little breathing room. Hybrid is still wickedly powerful. The horror still wishes to rape and breed with all the superpowered women and kill the rest of the world, but he hasn't got the power to do it.
The Once and Future Reptil is a Real Bastard
The Reptil you see in Avengers Academy isn't the current Reptil. Reptil is from a possible future, and he fights the flow of history for the sake of his yet to be child. Reptil aids and abets Hybrid, but he also limits the tumor by deciding who lives and who dies. At first, I thought Reptil was blind to the fact that should he help Hybrid, he's stamping his approval for the rape and unwanted pregnancy of his yet to be daughter, but then I realized that in his timeline, somebody will encounter and kill Hybrid. Else, he would never risk it.
Reptil The Power Broker
Reptil lures each Avenger to Hybrid's quarters, and these scenes could in lesser hands become repetitious. However, Gage precludes such deja vu by making the dialogue and behavior for each hero distinct. This is especially true for the new White Tiger.
I was never a fan of the original White Tiger. I thought he was okay, more visually striking than characteristically interesting. We already had Zorro, a hero to all not just Hispanics, and White Tiger wasn't as resonant. The Powers at Marvel presented Hector Ayala as a stereotype Puerto Rican. The amulets originally belonged to the multiracial, multigendered Sons of the Tiger martial arts team. Ayala didn't earn them. He took them from the garbage when the team discarded them. Tamora Pierce and Phil Briones created a new White Tiger, and they impressed the hell out of me. Angela del Toro, an atypical Latin hero, was superb. So, I really questioned the need for another White Tiger. Tom Grummett, Corey Hamscher, Chris Sotomayor and Christos Gage make me reconsider my initial assessment.
Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright
Any heroine that can take down a dinosaur and give Hybrid something to think about is a-okay in my book. The creative team also force me to reassess X-23.
Tigra Cool? No, but Pretty Awesome
This hindsight all can be attributed to the perfect fusion of art and writing. I mean, X-23 was a joke. She was a younger version of Wolverine with B-cups, and there were also some lesbian undertones thrown in for kicks. Marvel was essentially creating a character to appeal to a narrow, perceived demographic, not for comic book readers in general. Gage however treats his characters like people. Sure, there are some lapses in judgment like that horribly written Captain America a few issues back, but by and large, when you read Avengers Academy you end up involved in a story that centers on characters that demonstrate a wide range of emotion and depth. In fact, if you replaced Hybrid with an original, less resonant villain, Avengers Academy would still be entertaining.
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995,
Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.