First review for tonight? The most recent issue of one of my favorite series, Avengers Academy. Unfortunately the charisma black hole known as X-23 is joining this book, but I am mildly optimistic that Christos Gage is talented enough to do what, thus far, no other writer has been able to do... Make X-23 into an interesting character that does more than grunt one word answers to everything and act all angsty all the time. Here's hoping the rest of the great characters in this series don't get pushed aside...
Avengers Academy #23:
Summary: This issue starts off introducing X-23 to the other Academy cadets. Everybody seems rather impressed, with the exception of Reptil, who is still future Reptil, but in the body of his younger self, meaning all of these events are past history to him. Reptil does reveal that he was sent back to the past for a very specific reason... To make sure a certain event comes to pass... What event is that? Well, you'll have to read on to find out. From there Reptil, since he knows how things are supposed to turn out, begins to subtly manipulate events to make sure they turn out the way they did in HIS timeline. As such, he ends up getting Striker and Lightspeed to talk, at which time we find out Striker was gay(!!?!!), as he feels comfortable telling Lightspeed who is openly bisexual. From there, Reptil steps in and plants some seeds of jealousy between Hazmat and X-23 concerning Mettle, before Reptil's moment of truth arrives. The Avengers get word that those damn idiot Purifiers were attacking a telekinetic mutant. The Academy faculty assembles and Reptil asks to join in to help, which the staff allows. From there, we head to the scene of the fight and the Avengers and Reptil make relatively quick work of the Purifiers, who surprisingly erupt in flames at the end of the battle, something the Purifiers weren't known to do. Reptil suggests to the Avengers that the Purifiers probably had suicide switches built into their costumes, which the Avengers figure was probably the most probable explanation(it's not!). From there the Avengers bring the telekinetic kid, Jimmy Marks, back to the Academy Compound to decide what to do with him. Pym is pondering keeping Jimmy with the Academy or sending him to the X-Men(presumably Wolverine's faction), but Reptil suggests they ask Jimmy himself what he wanted to do. Pym concurs with that and Jimmy choses to stay with the Academy. With that settled, Reptil offers to take Jimmy to his room and help him get settled in. Upon arriving in Jimmy's room, Jimmy changes to his true form, that of the Dire Wraith known as Hybrid(!). Hybrid, being a telepath, tells Reptil that he couldn't fully read his mind due to the magic surrounding Reptil's powers, but has deduced that Reptil was a time traveler. Reptil admits to being from the future and tells Hybrid that he'd allow Hybrid to do whatever evil, nefarious thing he wanted at the Academy, as long as he allowed certain people to live. Hybrid seems receptive to this so Reptil tells him he'll hand him a list of who couldn't be killed. From there we head to the future and find the futuristic versions of the main Academy cadets. Reptil and Finesse's daughter(!) gets into their lab and is confused as to why her father(actually the younger version of Reptil trapped in his future body) was trapped in a containment tube.
Thoughts: This was quite the interesting comic book. The funny thing is that while it was interesting, it wasn't exactly the best issue of this series that I've read lately.... Let me try to explain. A LOT of stuff happened here! I mean really, a whole lot of stuff! So much stuff that after I finished typing up the review I literally didn't know where to start or what to mention first here in the thoughts column! I guess I'll start with the biggest surprise(to me at least), Striker coming out here. I did NOT see that coming for a second! Striker is my favorite Academy cadet in this series(he has been since the start), so yeah, finding out that he was gay was quite the shocker(pun intended). The best part was that on the letters page, Christos Gage stated that Striker was always gay, and that he left several hints throughout the series, even telling us which issues to check out. Needless to say I now want to dig through my back issues to see if I'll sit back and go, "Huh." or if I'll sit back and go, "Hmm...". So kudos to Gage for planting the seeds for this as early in the series as he appeared to do, and kudos for him handling Striker's confusion about his sexuality as well as he did. The scene with Striker and Lightspeed read very well and didn't seem forced or anything. It was very awkward, as you'd expect it to be. Instead of the tried and true, "Hey, guess what? I'm gay now!" scenes that we've gotten in the past(NORTHSTAR!), or a happy couple like Wiccan and Hulkling with Wiccan's uber-accepting parents, you could see how conflicted/disturbed Striker was about the whole situation. Now the question is, since Striker is so obsessed with his image, does he tell his teammates or hide DEEP in the closet around everybody but Lightspeed? My guess is the former. But I'll definitely be interested to see where Gage goes with my favorite character in this series. On top of that, I'm curious to see how other fans of this series view this turn of events. Me? I liked it. Next, X-23. Gage did exactly what I was hoping he'd do. He brought her into the series, explained why she was here, and then didn't go about shoving her down our throats every single page(like what happened when she joined Academy X). From there we'll hit on Hybrid. While Hybrid's appearance here was kind of spoiled for me, it was still a bit of a shock. Granted, I don't know all that much about the character, but from what I did read(a back issue of X-Man) I liked the character. He was just the right mixture of uber-creepy and ultra powerful. I can see Hybrid being an awesome foe for the Academy to have to combat down the road. Finally, we get to the mystery of the future Academy members... We don't know why future Reptil has commandeered his younger self's body, expect that the timestream was in flux and that “he” had recommended that the future Academy members make sure their version of the future came to pass. We don't know who “he” is(a future version of Pym maybe?), nor why “he” feels Reptil had to go back in time to assure the “right” future happens, but apparently it has to do with Hybrid killing certain members of the Academy, while leaving others alone. So as you can see, as I stated earlier, A LOT went down in this one. This was definitely a set-up issue, but as far as set-up issues go, it was a hell of a good one.
Score: 8 out of 10.“A nut is a nut is a nut. Good riddance I say.”... God do I love Hawkeye!