Source: Marvel: Avengers Assembly #1
After she ruins a few buildings during some superhero fights in Jersey City, middle schooler Ms. Marvel is invited by her idol, Carol Danvers, to train at the Avengers Institute. There she teams up with new best friends Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Squirrel Girl. But can they learn to work together to pass the decathlon at the end of the semester?
Avengers Assembly: Orientation imagines popular new heroes like Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, America Chavez, and Miles Morales as middle school students who need to train at a special institute to develop their superhero skills. It is told in a multimedia format, with chapters switching among blog posts, diary entries, fan fiction, text messages, and comic strips. The concept will likely appeal to comic book lovers and reluctant readers. However, the multimedia format is not used to great advantage and the story line ultimately falls flat. I wanted to love Orientation because it features so many of my favorite heroes, but the book is simply not well executed.
One of my main critiques with the book may admittedly not be shared by young readers: the book makes very little sense. The multimedia format means that Kamala Khan and her friends are constantly sharing top-secret information about their identities and their superheroing over unsecure sites. They text openly about their secret identities, keep details of fights online (on “private” blogs that could easily be hacked), and publicly share videos of mistakes they have made like recognizing their best (non-superhero) friends in the middle of a battle. Apparently Kamala and her friends are extremely naive about online privacy. Maybe their new institute should address that?
Even if readers are also unconcerned about online privacy, however, the story line is rather lackluster. Most of the book is really just Kamala attending a new school and making friends. [Spoilers] But there is sort of side plot involving a truly ill-conceived plan to harm another student so a villain can time travel. The plot is purposely ridiculous and even the other villains do not understand it. The plan is so poorly designed that it never takes place. The villains are basically foiled within two pages by their own incompetence. Exciting? Not really. The whole thing feels like a slapdash attempt to add something more to a book that would otherwise just be Ms. Marvel attending school, but the concept is never properly integrated into the story.
Avengers Assembly: Orientation stars with an exciting concept of having beloved heroes all attend school together. But the plot is not well executed and the story ultimately fails to deliver. I had looked forward to this new release, but I, unfortunately, am not impressed.