by Miller C. Lashbrook
Over the past few years, as I consume more and more Comic Book based media and read more comics, I decided to go back and read a lot of old Marvel comic events. The most recent of these that I read as I made my way through Marvel canon is that of the 2016 event, Avengers: Standoff by Nick Spencer. For those not familiar with Marvel Comics events there are two main types: the big events that have their own mini-series that ongoing series tie in to and then there are smaller events that happen in the ongoing series, often bookended by “Alpha” and “Omega” issues to kick-off and close out the event. Avengers: Standoff is one of these smaller events. Often times with these smaller events I find that the event can be hard to follow if you are not already reading all of the ongoing series that connect. In this event, I did not find that to be the case, however. I had only been reading three of the seven ongoing series that tied into this event, but I understood the event pretty well.
This event is mostly anchored to Nick Spencer’s Captain America: Sam Wilson series in addition to All-New, All-Different Avengers by Mark Waid, and Uncanny Avengers by Gerry Duggan. In terms of the marketing reason to do events of this nature, to get readers to jump into ongoing series they are not already reading, for me this event was successful; it made me want to continue with Nick Spencer’s Captain America books, start Thunderbolts, and jump into Uncanny Avengers.
Story-wise, I know many Marvel Comics readers are not fans of this event or Spencer’s run on Captain America as a whole. His run includes the infamous panel of Steve Rogers says, “Hail Hydra” as well as the panned event Secret Empire in 2017. My hindsight I think gives me an interesting perspective while reading this, however. I know about all of those things coming, so I am seeing the seeds being planted and will not be surprised when they come. Thematically Avengers: Standoff, across all of the tie-ins, is a story about mistrust in the government and the corruption of the prison system. In a universe where issue-by-issue you have heroes apprehending criminals and handing them over to the authorities, this is an intriguing thing to look at. The commentary on prisons is a little muddied by placing the blame all on Maria Hill. It makes it seem like the issues with our prison system are not systemic, but can rather be based on a few bad apples.
I do really enjoy what Nick Spencer is exploring with Sam Wilson. The idea that the mantle of Captain America is different for him than it was for Steve and Bucky because he is Black is interesting. It creates a unique dynamic between Sam and Steve that the MCU won’t really be able to explore with Steve now absent.
The other narrative choice that I enjoyed was that the event seemed to function as a way to unite the various Avengers teams into one larger unit, rather than the separate factions they had been since the end of Secret Wars (2015).
For my final thoughts, I think this event tries to do a lot and succeeds at some of those things. It is fun and has some interesting things to say about the government agencies of the Marvel Universe.
3.5/5 Cosmic Cubes 💎