Avengers Forever Part 2 (Kurt Busiek & Carlos Pacheco)
Despite finding the first part of Avengers Forever quite enjoyable I found myself struggling with the story’s second half. Like the first part on the whole I enjoyed it. It is just those niggling problems I had with it Part 1 coming to the surface in a big way during the entire length of Part 2. The continuation of the time warping and mind bending tale of a mix’n’match of Avengers from various points in time is a hard thing to take in at the best of times but when I had such a big gap between reading Part 1 and 2 even with the recap at the start of the volume, it became a confusing mess. It still had that big stupid action feel to it but around a third of the way through I had given up on caring about both the overall story and the characters.
For me to not care about either the story or characters when reading a comic is pretty big deal. I find ways to attach myself to even the most despicable characters but in Avengers Forever Part 2 it felt like a pointless endeavour. I knew nothing happening here would matter and I knew that there would not be any real ramifications for the story long term once it finished. I guess that is the problem with these big time travel stories, they always undo themselves right at the end.
Apart from not caring about anything that was happening in the book the other main issue I had with it is that it fell into that age old trap of creating an all powerful but ultimately weak big bad in the form of the TIme Keepers. Their whole agenda is basically,
“The Avengers may mess up our future in some divergent time line from our own therefor they should all die across all time and space.”
Boring and lazy. Why not go for something grander to fit the scale of the events of the book? Why not a future incarnation of the Avengers themselves being behind it all or some long lost enemy who has been pushed to the side?
Still the book have a few things going for it. Carlos Pacheco’s art is full of life and colour (so many colours!). He can convey and make even the most hectic battle scenes epic, full of detail and easy to understand. Some of the double page spreads towards the end when everything comes to a head and it is all the good incarnations of the Avengers versus the bad, your jaw drops at the sheer scale of what Pacheco has drawn. The actual team assembled in the book continued to be somewhat likeable despite my growing apathy towards them. Captain America has his crisis of faith annoyingly at the forefront of his characterisation here but the rest all contribute something to the team and the overall story. Even Rick Jones shows us that he can be an interesting character in the right hands. It also made me wonder why Marvel has pushed him to the side so much in recent years.
The story is a weird mix of great ideas and moments that are sullied by random deviations from the main thread, pointless exposition and so many pointless battles/mini-missions for the Avengers team featured in the book. It quickly becomes annoying whenever they achieve something only to have the rug pulled out from under them yet again. They are on the back foot the whole time just being taken from set piece to set piece with the story happening around them rather than too them
Overall I feel that if I had read this when it first came out I would have loved it but reading it from where (or is that when?) I am now and with what I know, the story rang hollow because I knew within five minutes that none of this crap mattered in the slightest. I love me some time travel stories and events but they have to matter. Showing me the universe then undoing it all by the final panel does not endear me to your story. More than anything it makes me feel like I have wasted my time.
Avengers Forever Part 2 is made up of issues #1 to #6 of the 1998-1999 limited series. It is available digitally via the Comixology/Marvel Comics Digital websites and apps or in trade via Amazon and the Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection.