Introducing: The Squadron Supreme of America!
|Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Ed McGuinness.|
Tie-in issues are always hit or miss if you ask me. They can either be a fun diversion from the normal storyline of the book, give some more insight into the event as a whole or if you're not so lucky, feel rather pointless and contrived. I can understand creators having some difficulty when it comes to these tie-ins. They're basically asked to put whatever they were doing in the book on hold and write a story that fits in a much larger whole, one that might not even really fit with what they were doing in the first place. The characters they are writing for might also have a heavy roll within the event and as the stories are usually written concurrently they might not be aware of all the specifics and a disconnect between the two can occur. Some creators manage this better than others. Some can use these mandated tie-ins to their own advantage and craft a story that is relevant and interesting to their own work and still fit into the event. Avengers #18, part of the 'War of the Realms' event from 2019 is such a book.
The main focus of the book aren't the Avengers themselves, they have no involvement in the plot other than a mention. No, the book focuses on the Squadron Supreme, or rather the 'Squadron Supreme of America', which were teased a few issues earlier and this book servers as their formal introduction. The issue starts with a showing of the members of the team in their civilian identity moments before being called away to stop the invasion of Frost Giants, giving some insight in their lives, their thoughts and how they're dynamic as a team is. While this is interesting on its own, this is the first good look were getting at these characters, this isn't the reason why this issue works so well. The issue has been out for almost a year now, at the time of this writing at least, but I'm still not going to spoil it here. I really think that works best when you experience it yourself, but let's just say that the narration earlier one makes it clear that the Squadron Supreme of America isn't what it appears to be.
The twist itself also serves as more than just a narrative device to set apart this new version of the Squadron to the once that came before it but also give some interesting commentary that readers can pick up on. For those who don't know, the Squadron Supreme is a pastiche of the Justice League. Their three primary members; Hyperion, Nighthawk and Power Princess are basically just Marvel's version of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman respectively. The commentary might come off a little bit like pot-shots fired at DC comics, which they kind off are, but when you put this together with the book's twist and the history of the Squadron it all comes together to form a quite nifty bit of storytelling if you ask me. The whole is definitely better than the sum of its parts in this case, though the individual parts aren't bad either.
I've talked a lot about the story itself, that is the most interesting part of the book, but the rest of the issue holds up quite nicely as well. The level of writing is good, the action sequences are dynamic and help underscore each characters fighting style, the pacing is well done and the art and matches the tone of the book perfectly. I do have a minor nitpick about the colouring though, mostly because of one character. During her introduction, Zarda's, A.K.A. Power Princess, has a noticeable darker skin-tone than the rest of the book. It’s probably an error or meant to invoke different lighting, but it still confuses me to this day
|As you can see, Zarda's skin-tone is noticeably different throughout the issue.|
Instead of going the traditional route when it comes to writing a tie-in issue, Jason Aaron instead chose to use the event as a backdrop and focus on further developing a side-plot. Combine this with an interesting concept that works on multiple levels and you have an issue that works as both a part of the War of the Realms event and as in (unmissable) part of the larger Avengers story.