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Published on June 5th, 2012 | by Mike Harding

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Marvel Graphic Novel Collection Issue 12 review

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Continuity, in the minds of some of today’s writers, it is something to be feared, and occasionally completely ignored.  Over the years we have seen glaring contradictions in stories such as the Black Knights ebony blade during New Excalibur, DC’s approach of forgetting everything that ever happened every time a Crisis occurs.

There are however, writers who embrace the concept of continuity, and use it to make their stories stronger, which makes that inner child inside every fanboy cheer every time some random character from many moons ago appears, or a writer references something that most people under the age of twenty have never heard of.

This week sees the release of part one, of a two-part story (its in two parts as it’s a bloody long book).  Full of references to past events, and even clearing up a few points as it progresses, this week I proudly review Avengers Forever part one (issues 1-6).

Avengers forever was originally released December 1998, it was a 12 part story written by Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern, with artwork provided by Carlos Pacheco (at the time had ben draining my wallet, with his work on Excalibur and X-men).  Interestingly the writers were originally meant to craft a story called Avengers: World in Chains, however, the story was felt to be too similar to the Havok led book called Mutant X (remember that one? Bloodstorm was brilliant).

The story itself starts in the distant future with a race of aliens being frozen in time and then decimated by an army based on the classic Avengers.  Three mysterious figures are watching and remark that “this will not do at all, steps must be taken”.  We then travel back in time to find that the Avengers have travelled to the Blue Area of the Moon (former home to the Inhumans), in order to seek assistance from the Kree Supreme Intelligence to help save the life of former Avengers sidekick Rick “who haven’t I partnered” Jones.  See Rick had taken a bit of a beating from an apocalypse controlled Hulk, as a result (and after a long time) he developed an unknown illness, with no apparent cure.  Rick eventually slipped into a coma and that’s when the Avengers decided to step in to help.

For those not in the know the Kree Supreme Intelligence is basically a large computer, that is made up of the minds of the most intelligent beings on in the Kree empire.  Upon someones death, their mind is transfered into a computer.  Originally the Kree created it to help them build a Cosmic Cube (that’s the tesseract to those who have only seen the Avengers movie).  As expected the Supreme Intelligence (also known informally as Supremor) refused to help the Kree, and for a long time, replaced the Kree government, ruling the empire instead.  Despite being overthrown about a dozen times, Supremor is worshipped by many of the Kree (and is currently in the Avengers Vs X-men crossover in the Secret Avengers tie-ins).  Following the events of Operation Galactic Storm the Supreme Intelligence escaped in a spaceship where he travels to Earths moon, which becomes the starting point for the 1998 the Avengers line crossover, Live Kree or Die!!!

It is following this story that Avengers Forever begins, Ricks in a coma, and S.H.I.E.L.D. have the Kree Supreme Intelligence on the Moon, and in the future the Avengers army is slaughtering people. The team reluctantly agree to leave Rick alone with Supremor, and that is when things begin to get really bizarre.  At this point a mysterious cloaked man enters the story, being very cryptic, he speaks with Supremor then disappears.  Watching all this is the villain Immortus, who sends an assassin to kill Rick. The assassin is stopped by another Avengers villain, Kan the Conqueror.  Right are you ready for this? Kang is a younger version of Immortus, who is determined not to become his future self who he considers to be a weak withered husk.  The obligatory fight breaks out with both Immortus and Kang using their ability to control time to make it a massive event.  During all this Rick somehow wakes up, and our cloaked figure returns to reawaken Ricks Cosmic Destiny powers (he had them once before in the Kree-Skrull War), Rick uses these powers to summon help in the form of the Avengers.

These aren’t any avengers you have seen before though, as they are taken from various points in the timeline.  The team consists of a very disillusioned Captain America, who is pulled from an adventure in which he discovers a high-ranking government official is the leader of the Secret Empire; Yellowjacket (Hank Pym),  from a time when he is mentally unbalanced and unaware that he is Henry Pym; Hawkeye, from just after the conclusion of the Kree-Skrull War and war; Giant-Man (also Henry Pym) and the Wasp from the present, while Captain Marvel is pulled from a few months into the future (although never actually joins the team in any book I have read), and Songbird is also taken from the future.

The team, must join forces with Kang, to defeat Immortus, and more importantly to protect Rick Jones.  Our cloaked figure returns and reveals himself to be former Villain Libra from the terrorist team Zodiac.  The team escape to Kang’s home named Chronopolis, but Immortus once again fights them, and seemingly wins transforming all of Chronopolis and those inside it, into the Forever Crystal (obviously the Avengers have escaped).  From there we get tim hopping travels, with cameos galore from the marvel universe, with this part of the book, ending with the team, working left with more questions than answers.

What makes this book so good?  The combination of writers, the artist assigned to provide the settings and characters.  Everything about this story works well, even if it gets a bit wordy at times.  Is the book good value for money, sadly once again this collection proves not to be worth the money, as you can buy the hardback version of the entire story for £16 online.

So “Extra Features” time, we have the obligatory “What you need to know” section, which once again is well produced.  We get a biography of Kurt Busiek, which, in fairness, covers most of his career in some considerable detail.  There is also a nice article about Carlos Pacheco which, whilst not as detailed, is still pretty good.  There are alternative covers for issue four by other Marvel artists, and part one of the team roster.  This particular bit, I really liked, as, even though it is explained briefly in the story, it is still nice to see the reference work done regarding some of the team.

Finally as always the upcoming book reveals.  With this story as book 14, one of this weeks reveals is a bit obvious with part two of the story revealed as book 15.  Also announced is Marvels which will be book 13 of the collection.  The other books in the recommended reading are Ultimates books, with Pacheco doing the artwork.

Incidentally we have to wait three and a half months for the second part of this story, which is not bad considering we are still waiting for the second half of the Spider-man tale that was in the first book.

The next book to be released is The Amazing Spider-man: Kraven’s Last Hunt by J.M DeMatteis and Mike Zeck; which was one of the first Spider-man stories I ever read as a kid.

So with this book added that leaves the list now looking like this….

*Titles in BOLD have already been released*

Book 01: Iron Man: Demon in a bottle

Book 02: Uncanny X-men: Dark Phoenix

Book 03: Captain Britain: A Crooked World

Book 04: Wolverine

Book 05: The Mighty Thor: The Last Viking

Book 09: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Birth of Venom

Book 10: Spider-man: Kraven’s Last Hunt

Book 11: The Incredible Hulk: Silent Screams

Book 12: Wolverine: Weapon X

Book 13: Marvels

Book 14: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part one

Book 15: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part two

Book 16: The Mighty Thor: In Search of Gods

Book 21: Spider-man: Coming Home

Book 22: Spider-man: Revelations

Book 25: Spider-man: Blue

Book 26: Wolverine: Origins

Book 27: Captain America: The New Deal

Book 28: The Ultimates: Super-Human

Book 29: The Ultimates: Homeland Security

Book 36: Astonishing X-men: Gifted

Book 37: Astonishing X-men: Dangerous

Book 40: House of M

Book 43: Iron Man: Extremis

Book 44: Captain America: Winter Soldier

Book 45: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 1

Book 46: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 2

Book 47: Fantastic Four: The End

Book 50: Civil War

Book 53: The Eternals

Book 51: Fallen Son: Death of Captain America

Book 52: Thor: Reborn

Book 55: World War Hulk

Book 56: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters

Book 57: Wolverine: Old Man Logan

Book 59: Captain Britain & MI13:Vampire State

Book 60: Siege

 

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