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Avengers Undercover #2

Hopeless, Walker, Beaulieu

SPOILER ALERT!

I will most certainly be SPOILING!

Few things can throw off a rescue mission quite like a lack of forethought. So when six super powered teens suffering from different forms of post traumatic stress syndrome decide to rescue one of their fellow survivors by diving headfirst into a community of super villains, you can imagine how things are most likely to turn out.

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The opening scene of Avengers Undercover tells a different story all together. Instead of the drama of rushing into epic battle to save their comrade Bloodstone, the Survivors accidentally draw the attention of several nearby villains when they dive into the chasm that Bloodstone disappeared into on his video, and proceed to break a lot of faces, arguing amongst themselves and pitching quips along the way. Amidst the combat, which feels oddly nonchalant for some characters, almost as if the violence held no meaning, the next bit of intrigue is dropped in our laps. Masque and Constrictor are discussing the Survivors from what appears to be a mentorship role.

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With the battle over, the team makes their way to Arcade’s old bar, and Anachronism makes the same mistake a second time, no plan but rescue Bloodstone. Once more, in dramatic fashion, a flashy confrontational entrance goes unrewarded, with Bloodstone actually saving the Survivors from being overwhelmed by teeming crowds of villainous youngsters. The team discusses things with Bloodstone, revealing his reason for being there; he has decided to be a villain. He quotes the freedom that he has being a member of the Masters of Evil, the lack of fear, shame, and pity on the faces of the other people in the bar.

 

Five of the Survivor’s rescue team start out resisting everything around them, but slowly they find reasons to be curious at least. For Anachronism, the reasons are hope and loyalty. The same goes for Hazmat. Chase is taken in by simple lust. Nico is drawn in by an offer to learn more about her powers coming from Daimon Hellstrom, the son of Satan. His pitch is aided by Bloodstone showing off his new mastery of his demon. This could explain his demon-form being controlled by Hellstrom in the first issue, or subvert the entire story. A cute boy, who defends her honor from some super scientist, even though she just shot him with her cannon a few hours before, takes in even Death Locket. The most unsettling part of this whole scene is Bloodstone’s smirking declaration:

“…I’m a cold-blooded weapons expert who hates people and periodically transforms into a ten ton indestructible man-eating beast.  I was always to be a villain.”

Cammi is the only person who isn’t even remotely interested. She ushers everyone out of the club, and condemns the rest of the teams behavior over the last four hours. She demands that they leave, since Bloodstone is not in any need of saving. Bloodstone offers a change of destination, and the threat Cammi spews impresses Constrictor and Masque who are watching once more. Hellstrom teleports the group in a burst of flame … to some kind of banquet hall.

The survivors are all dressed to impress, as someone making a speech to introduce some guest of honor. The bewildered Survivors ask Bloodstone what is going on. His answer becomes heavily apparent when their tormentor, Arcade, appears in a whirlwind of blue flame. The Survivors are here to kill him.

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There are three highly compelling elements to this month’s issue. First, the PTSD is subtle but still in attendance in most of the characters. Hazmat’s nonchalance during violent combat and Death Locket’s acceptance of lethal force offhandedly are major displays of it’s continued presence. Nico and Chase’s continuing argument show a resentful anger between the two, and Bloodstone’s single-mindedness in hunting Arcade, even to the point of becoming a villain, really showcase the extremes of what the Survivors are experiencing.

 

The second element is the inclusion of Constrictor and Masque. The idea that the Survivors are going to be groomed to be villains because of their actions inside Murderworld has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what Hopeless will do with it. Finally, the slimy feel of the whole “Master’s of Evil” community strikes a chord with me. No different from a drug dealer offering the first hit free, or a cult empathizing with someone they are trying to convert, the club is such a warm and cuddly place to be, that you can almost smell the rot underneath. I for one can’t wait to see just how much more our Survivors can survive!

My rating: 5/5

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