Having been born and raised in the Great Lakes State, you come to expect a lot of things. You expect great college football. You expect really cold winters. You also expect lots of rural areas in between the big, or semi-big, cities like I grew up in. What you don’t expect are superheroes patrolling your neck of the woods.
Marvel put an end to that when they brought together the Great Lakes Avengers. This was a quirky little book but it was quite put together. This particular issue revolves around the leader of the group, Mr. Immortal so my focus in this review will be his story.
We start off, after a funny little PSA from Squirrel Girl and Monkey Joe, with Mr. Immortal at birth. From there, we learn some bullet points of his life story, how he continually gets to see a creature named Deathurge who over the course of the issue brings people that he loves into the afterlife. Craig Hollis, Mr. Immortal’s real name, sees Deathurge as more of a friend at first which puts him into some funny situations, like playing patty cake in the middle of the road or thinking some alligators behind a fence are doggies. (Funny of course because nothing happens to him.) The fun stops when Deathurge encourages him to play with matches under his home and his father is killed, brought to wherever he is taking people.
Craig is brought to live in abusive foster home where he happens to meet the woman of his dreams, the real daughter of the abusive foster father. When they grow up they escape and move out on their own. But we get to a point where we see Craig come home one day to find a letter. After reading the letter, he tells us his love is gone and we see he tried killing himself by throwing himself out the window.
Well, that didn’t work. He rises, his neck clearly snapped, but he is none the worse for wear. He tries a few more times until realizing that hey, this is a superpower and decides to become a hero. His one and only instance of trying it alone ends with the criminals shooting him in the head. Once he gets up, he realizes that maybe he’d better off in a team so he puts an ad in the paper and the Great Lakes Avengers are born.
They fumble through some basic little adventures where we see the general public either take them as a joke or are frightened of them. When they finally encounter a big problem with enemies that are running amok at a convention center, they ride into action only to find the Real Avengers have shown up and they are relegated to being spectators.
Just as Craig contemplates ending the group, the improbable happens. The real Avengers break up. AND real supervillain shows up in town for them to stop. The Great Lakes Avengers show up to fight Maelstrom.
Craig is the first one attacked. His girlfriend, who in the group is called Dinah Soar, because he is a walking, talking dinosaur (they could have done better with the name), comes to console him but then the writer decides to hit us over the head and take a sharp left with the story. Dinah is killed. Craig is devastated. From there, we flash back to his old girlfriend. We find that she didn’t leave a Dear John note, she left a suicide note. Deathurge comes to take Dinah. Mr. Immortal somehow has a gun handy and the last image of see of him is of him holding the gun to his head.
I like where they’re going with this story. Maybe I would have written the piece a little more organically and explored some of the characters before I got to this point but being that we’re talking about a bunch of second rate heroes, I can get why they chose to skip to the good parts. It is quite jarring to go from goofy little comedic piece to the brick in the face suddenness of the emotion and reality of the story but they make it work. For Mr. Immortal, we know enough, and care enough, about him by this point that when he is faced with the death, again, of a woman he loves, you understand why he breaks down and tries to off himself.
The art work was fantastic. Especially at the end when Deathurge is taking Dinah away and we see Mr. Immortal, small in the frame, reaching out and begging to be taken to wherever Deathurge is taking the people that Craig loves. The desperation in the frame just pulls at the ol’ heart strings.
The little PSA with Squirrel Girl at the beginning was drawn particularly well too. I remember it mainly from an early Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons but they cribbed it from Frankenstein I think, but the PSA with her on stage gave off the same vibe. The little bits with Monkey Joe are funny as well.
Compared to other titles from Marvel, this is a quirky piece. It’s not meant to rival any of their titles in the big lines they run. You’ll never see The Great Lakes Avengers mentioned alongside Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, or The Avengers in terms of popularity. But it is a nice character piece of average people and how they would react if tossed into the mix that the superheroes typically deal with. The story with Mr. Immortal is especially well done, albeit a little jarring for how the piece was setup. If you keep in mind that you’re not reading a typical superhero story but a story involving a guy who just so happens cannot die, you will get the most enjoyment from the story.