R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 8/10
I just read this for probably the fourth time and it still stands up as one of my favorite Avengers stories. Definitely NOT for the casual reader, AVENGERS FOREVER requires readers to have a good amount of Avengers history under their belts to be really enjoyed. Kurt Busiek is at his wordiest here, with many pages taking extra time to read. Sure, some of the peripheral dialogue can be skimmed, but there’s such a large chunk of story exposition that demands attention.
When I first read this in 1998-99, I was blown away. The love has dwindled a little (only just a little!), but it still stands up to be a solid tale. My favorite issue was always #8 (“The Secret History of The Avengers“) but I now find the long-winded retconning delivered by the Space Phantom a little forced; loose ends from the past are conveniently tied together a little too neatly for my liking. I think my favorite issue now would be #9 (“Reflections of the Conqueror“), which delves deep into the history of Kang the Conqueror. An interesting character study that doesn’t seem at all forced.
The team here is comprised of seven time-displaced Avengers and I think they are all smart choices, with the exception of maybe Songbird, who doesn’t really seem to have much of a purpose and is mostly just posing in the background throughout the story. I really appreciate Busiek’s attention to detail in the dialogue, intentionally making Yellowjacket and Hawkeye seem like they are really pulled from Marvel’s Bronze Age: lots of campy, over-the-top repartee. It makes it that much more fun to read.
Carlos Pacheco’s artwork is at its absolute best here, and he does a masterful job whether drawing a single character in the frame or throwing in dozens (which happens often).
The final two issues are full (and I mean FULL) of Avengers battling one another all over the page, and although this is visually stunning, the book loses a point or two here for the fact that it’s primarily just eye-porn filler. Overall, Avengers Forever is maybe not quite a perfect 10/10 but it’s certainly worthy of at least an 8.
A must-have for any Avengers fan.