The first thing I need to say is that Shadow Avengers by Carrie Harris is the second book in the Crisis Protocol series from Aconyte Books. I didn’t know that when I started reading it. But it didn’t matter as much as it might in other series as I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the story. There were a few times when events from the previous book were referenced (which is how I came to realize it was part of a series) but it didn’t leave me confused. Nor did I have a hard time following what was currently happening in the series.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Aconyte Books for the purpose of this review.]
I loved this book so much that I now plan on reading the first book, Target Kree by Stuart Moore. I also plan on reading and reviewing the next book, Into the Dark Dimension, in the series when it comes out. If however, you want to read this book and only this book then you’ll be just fine. The story is strong and well presented with a good ending, making it a perfectly fine stand-alone adventure within the series.
[Warning: My review of Shadow Avengers by Carrie Harris contains some spoilers!]
The Shadow Avengers
The Shadow Avengers is a group Doctor Strange has put together to protect the multiverse from Dormammu. Dormammu is an extremely powerful sorcerer that wants to enslave the entire multiverse. This assemblage of heroes includes himself, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and Black Panther. They are all very committed to protecting Earth against the threat of Dormammu, the only problem is they aren’t very used to working as a team.
Doctor Strange keeps forgetting that they are all strong leaders in their own right and alienates a few of them at the beginning. Thanks to some pointed talks from Wong he remembers why he brought these particular heroes together against Dormammu and trusts them to each play to their own strengths and work towards their common goals together. This trust ends up being the tipping point in their battle. If he hadn’t trusted them to each do what was needed on their own the Shadow Avengers would likely have failed and Dormammu would have enslaved not just their own world but the entire multiverse.
The evil plan of Dormamu
Dormammu’s villainous plan is really pretty genius. The villain has been banished from our universe so trying to come here isn’t easy. He knew that Doctor Strange would be looking for signs of him and his magic so he sends in proxies to do his work until he can fully enter our universe. He enslaves Asgardians from another universe and sends them here to ready a portal that will be strong enough for him to travel through. Loki is one of these slaves and he manages to also enslave Venom for the Master, as Dormammu is called by his slaves.
Another Earthling he has helping him is Norman Osborn. Norman thinks he’ll share in the spoils of universal domination but he wears a magical necklace that Dormammu can use to control and punish him, just like all the other slaves. Norman brings all of Oscorp and its immense resources to the table for Dormammu as well. Here’s where his plan’s fatal flaw comes in: trying to control that many people at once is extremely difficult. The more he tries to do it, the harder it gets. Eventually, things begin to slip passed Dormammu. Our heroes take full advantage of this and use it to ultimately save the day.
A toxic mess and the best mentor ever in Shadow Avengers
I wasn’t totally sold on the toxic green sludge that Dorummu uses as part of his evil plan. Somehow the chemists at Oscorp found a way to take the remains of Praeterus, a dead planet, and fuse them with Dorummu’s magic. The resulting compound somehow helps open portals. Other than just being present I’m not sure how it helped. I guess maybe it focused the magical energy but the portals opened above or near the sludge, not directly where it was at. It also felt weird to me to fuse magic with science. It just didn’t make sense to me. But it seemed to make sense to the Shadow Avengers.
My favorite part of this whole book is the relationship between Spiderman and Ms. Marvel. Ms. Marvel is a sweet, somewhat inexperienced hero thrown in with all these very powerful men and she unsurprisingly feels rather inadequate. None of the other heroes are hostile towards her, but none of them take the same interest in her as Spiderman does.
He treats her as a little sister but in the best way. He is always trying to help her but he gives her room to figure things out on her own. This is a really wonderful and rare thing, providing the scaffolding for someone to grow without jumping in and taking over. It’s a fine line and Spiderman walks it perfectly, which really allows Ms. Marvel to flourish. It was a completely wholesome and perfect example of what all mentoring relationships should be.
Final thoughts on Shadow Avengers
So as I said at the beginning, this was the second book in the Crisis Protocol series from Acontye Books. I didn’t realize this until I was done reading. Although there were a few times where it was obvious there was a back story I was missing, it didn’t keep me from following the story in Shadow Avengers. The characters are also well written. They were each very strong but they managed to work together well. They all had time to show internal struggles and weaknesses, which made them more relatable and likable.
There was a time when superheroes had to be perfect but I like them to be human. When there are conflicts, mistakes, moments of doubt, and most importantly moments of clarity, realization, and growth, that’s when we can really connect to the characters and learn from them. That’s when they become heroes. All of the Shadow Avengers have these moments that boom and it really made it great. Carrie Harris really nailed the humanity of these heroes and I highly recommend their story to anyone.
Shadow Avengers: A Crisis Protocol Novel by Carrie Harris and Aconyte Books is currently available at most booksellers. Have you read Shadow Avengers? What did you think of the novel? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter!
If you haven’t already, check out my latest review from Aconyte’s Marvel line, Three Swords, a Legends of Asgard novel by C.L. Werner!