Avengers #11 has all the components of an interesting, short-term change in direction to keep the book from getting bogged down in giant international and even cosmic events. A one-and-done that still services the longer story Hickman has been spinning out, this issue has several members of the team go undercover in an overseas resort to find out what AIM is up to and discovering that they are getting ready to auction off a superpowered weapon in a particular form. It allows the characters to show some humor, demonstrate how they play off each other when they’re out of costume, and try to deal with an independent nation-state that has diplomatic immunity when the team is not in a position to just use their powers and let loose.
So Avengers #11 really has all the hallmarks of a cool, quirky, one-of-a-kind issue, and that is good after several issues of giant stakes and a lot of bombast. However, it is also bad, because Avengers #11 also bears the hallmarks of Justice League International #16 from August, 1988. Where members of the team go undercover in an overseas resort to find out what Bialya is up to and discovering that they are getting ready to auction off a superpowered weapon in a particular form. And they show humor while demonstrating how they play off each other out of costume. And they try to deal with an independent nation-state. That has diplomatic immunity.
Seriously: there are about a half-dozen obvious parallels between Avengers #11 and Justice League International #16 and #17. And hey: these things happen. There are no new ideas under the sun, and I take it as a given that any similarities between these two books is either a matter of parallel thinking or simple homage, because while I think Hickman’s writing is often clinical and bloodless, I have never seen it be anything but relentlessly original. And I will therefore try to review Avengers #11 on its own merits as much as I can… but that will honestly only go so far. Because the fact of the matter is that my entire experience of reading this book was colored by that feeling of familiarity, to the point where the first thing I did after finishing it was to dig out my Justice League International trades to find the issue to see if my instincts were right (if you’re curious, the issue is in JLI volume three).
So yeah: I’ll try to review Avengers #11 on its own, but it’s gonna be like reminiscing about a high school misadventure with an old buddy over beers: it’s fun to revisit, but it’s not like you can forget living it the first time, when you were young.