When originally announced, Avengers Academy was amidst a sea of Avengers-related launches, and as it had a cast of all-new characters as the focus, it kind of got lost in the hype of other, "bigger" books. It's a real shame, because Gage has done an amazing job with this book, and has packed much more action, adventure, and even pathos, into this book than likely both of Bendis' Avengers books combined. Each issue makes you feel like you got your money's worth, as Gage fleshes out the young superheroes who make up the cast of Avengers Academy. It's the spiritual successor to The Initiative, and it is chock full of excellent character beats, not just for the new kids, but also for the teachers of the Academy.
When a major crossover touches down and engulfs your book, it's easy to get lost in the whirlwind, but Gage has managed to write some excellent tie-in issues in this book, where the characters interact with some of the larger set-pieces of Fear Itself, yet their personal stories aren't lost, instead they are heightened. This issue has a lot of great moments, from the team finally learning to work together AS a team while fighting in Washington DC, to the quieter moments in the aftermath of their fight, when the very real issue of taking a life is addressed and discussed. Gage doesn't shy away from examining the psychological repercussions of the last few issues, and the characters manage to grow and have more depth as a result. The Absorbing Man/Titania battle against those who would oppose them continues to be engaging, and I like how personal Absorbing Man is taking his feud with Hank Pym, given their last encounter. Can't wait to see what next issue brings.
The artwork is handled by one of my absolute favourite artists, Sean Chen, who I originally became a fan of in the late '90s when he handled the Heroes Return Iron Man relaunch. His artwork is clean, crisp, and definitely doesn't skimp on the action. He also can handle the quieter scenes exceedingly well, as he shows the slight alterations of facial expressions with ease. You believe the emotions these characters are written to be experiencing because thanks to Chen, you can see those emotions on the page.
Once again, a fantastic issue, which is pretty much status quo for Avengers Academy at this point. It's the underdog in the Avengers family of titles, the unappreciated little guy who deserves so much more recognition. Don't miss out on this fantastic read. Highly Recommended!