Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Review # 19: "New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Volumes 1, 2 and 3"
I've mentioned in earlier reviews that the Avengers line rarely focuses on its biggest names. So when "New Avengers" doesn't do anything to forward the identities of Wolverine, Spider-Man and The Thing, it really doesn't have to. Witty barbs from those three, though? These books have those in spades. They're great. Meanwhile - under the radar - characters most people haven't heard of like Jessica Jones, Victoria Hand and Squirrel Girl are given a chance to grow a bit as near-relentless action propels the books forward.
Well.... near-relentless action that's somehow at a bit of a slow pace.
I can definitely understand a month-to-month buyer getting pissed off at how Bendis moves stories along at a crawl. Take volume one for instance, which focuses on a spiritual invasion that involves several members of the New Avengers - now being led by Luke Cage - getting possessed. After an excellent opening issue where Cage (with Danny "Iron Fist" Rand's dollar) buys Avengers Mansion from Tony Stark and forms a new team on his terms as the new threat emerges, things seem to slow down a bit as the plot stretches over six full issues. Comic to comic, that can be annoying.
As a collected trade, though, it works. The idea is exciting, the art looks great and while it's not in the upper echelon of material, it's definitely better than the other Avengers book he was writing at the time. I agree with critics that Bendis could fit the same story into three issues, maybe less. In the 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's I would agree. Instead, we get treated to larger art spreads by Stuart Immonen and is that really a bad thing? With more people buying collections and fewer fans grabbing a stack of thin prints from the comic shop every Wednesday, it's embracing the growing medium.
The collection isn't earth-shattering, but there's a lot to like. First of all, Mike Deodato takes over on art and - while I like Stuart Immonen - Deodato is a perfect match for Bendis' action movie-like vision. Also, Jessica Jones as a full-fledged hero alongside her husband is great to see. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is used perfectly. His wisecracks are on point, and it's cool to see him being built with Wolverine and The Thing as this team's version of the "Big Three."
All that said, I much prefer this series to the main line if only because it's more like the original "New Avengers." New teammates, new situations, new adversaries. It's what Bendis did best.
Rating(s): 7/10 (Volume One), 7/10 (Volume Two), 6.5/10 (Volume Three)