Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artwork: David Marquez, Ed McGuinness
Colors: Justin Ponsor, Erick Arciniega, Frazer Irving, Matthew Wilson & Giada Marchisio
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 14th November 2018 (Comixology)
Publicised as a “heroic 700th issue”, and shifting enough copies to make it the ninth best-selling book in November 2018, Jason Aaron’s narrative for ‘The Battle For The Right To Be Called… Earth’s Mightiest’ certainly shouldn’t have caused much disappointment for its 77,715 readers. For whilst the oversized, thirty-two page periodical debatably plods along somewhat at the beginning as the Soviet Super-Soldiers are reformed under the leadership of Dmitri Bukharin – the newly appointed Minister of Superhuman Defence – and Steve Rogers makes it crystal clear to an agitated General Ross that “the Avengers don’t work for any [one] country”, its plot soon throws together a truly breath-taking roster of the Marvel Universe’s most formidable heroes and villains.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more crowded confrontation this side of Secret Wars or Civil War than that depicted at the international undersea biosphere known as Hydropolis, as King Namor’s Defenders Of The Deep, the Avengers and the new Winter Guard all cataclysmically collide with one another over the future sovereignty of the planet’s oceans. Admittedly, some of the Sub-Mariner’s troupe, such as the Piranhas, King Crab and Manowar, aren’t widely regarded as some the Marvel Universe’s biggest hitters. But a battle which incorporates at least three deities, the Avenging Son, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, She-Hulk and Captain America should not be treated lightly.
In addition, almost all of this impressive cast are given a moment to shine within Aaron’s script, whether it be Perun and Chernobog’s fragile alliance swiftly breaking down over which is to strike Namor’s final blow, the increasingly intriguing Red Widow monitoring her team-mates’ performance so as to recommend any terminations, or Ghost Rider’s utter astonishment at facing zombie sharks. Perhaps unsurprisingly however, it is the monarch of Atlantis himself who receives the greatest share of the spotlight, with Aaron penning the underwater hybrid as a complete homicidal maniac who openly threatens to kill Black Panther in front of the biosphere’s scientists, and even momentarily looks set to lethally attack his old World War Two comrade, Captain America; “I’m right here. Come kill me. Old friend.”
Adding tonnes of tension to these sense-shattering shenanigans is the artwork of David Marquez and Ed McGuiness, delivering some wonderfully impactive panels reintroducing this book’s audience to the likes of an ever-eager Major Mikhail Ursus and the fatalistic former KGB operative Bukharin. The famed Superman illustrator seems to take on the lion’s share of the work, piecing together an incredibly fast-paced patchwork of punches, kicks, shield throws and explosions, the majority of which occur with the combatants waist-deep in water.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]