DC’s Greatest Heroes In Avengers #18

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

The United States has its own superhero team again, and they are the Squadron Supreme of America. They are Hyperion, Power Princess, Nighthawk, Doctor Spectrum, and the Blur, and they all work under Agent Phil Coulson. When the War of the Realms brings the Frost Giants to Washington D.C, the Squadron Supreme respond with extreme prejudice. However, all is not as it seems with the Squadron; Phil Coulson is keeping more secrets than they could ever imagine.

Avengers #18 cover by Ed McGuinness and Val Staples
Avengers #18 cover by Ed McGuinness and Val Staples

Avengers #18 is the first issue of the title to dip its toes into War of the Realms, and it does so while expanding on this new iteration of the Squadron Supreme we’ve seen in prior issues of this book.

Avengers #18 is also as subtle as a sledgehammer. The Squadron Supreme are a jingoistic band of borderline-psychotic killers. They don’t even know to what degree that they are just puppets of Coulson–even Nighthawk, who thinks he has one up on his handlers.

I don’t know if this version of the Squadron has any relation to the team that was flying around on 616 not long ago, but they don’t seem to be the same version.

Even by Squadron Supreme standards, Jason Aaron really drives home the fact that this is Marvel’s Justice League, but it seems to be taking more aim at the movies than DC’s comics. Something in how ridiculously violent this Squadron is mixed with the fact that Coulson is pushing them to be like this screams more DCEU than simply DCU.

The final twist of the comic had me laughing out loud–but in admiration instead of ridicule. This comic is not subtle in its inspirations, targets, and what it thinks of either. It’s kind of amazing, but I’ve always been able to appreciate a more blatant allegory as much as the more subtle ones.

Avengers #18 art by Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor, and letterer VC's Cory Petit
Avengers #18 art by Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor, and letterer VC’s Cory Petit

Ed McGuinness returns as artist in this issue, and it really is the perfect issue to bring him back for. McGuinness has always excelled at rendering characters in a larger-than-life fashion, and that’s just the treatment this Squadron Supreme needs. Mix that with some excellent inking from Mark Morales and color work from Justin Ponsor, and you have a downright gorgeous comic.

Avengers #18 introduces us to the Squadron Supreme of America, and damn if it isn’t a first impression that will stick with me for a while. It’s ridiculous, insanely violent, and not aiming for an ounce of subtlety. It’s a great read, and it gets a recommendation. Check it out.

Avengers #18 comes to us from writer Jason Aaron, artist Ed McGuinness, inker Mark Morales, color artist Justin Ponsor, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artist McGuinness with Val Staples, and variant cover artists Alex Ross and Paolo Rivera.

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