Monday, October 28, 2013

Review # 68: "'Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5' and 'New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5'"

And so Brian Michael Bendis' time with the Avengers comes to an end. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

While he had injected new life (and money) into the franchise with the launch of the original "New Avengers," BMB had clearly overstayed his welcome. It may not be entirely his fault. With the ungodly amount of Avengers issues he was tasked with writing, he was due to suffer creative burnout and by the time his run was over with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the well was getting really dry. These two collections are prime examples of what happens when that's the case.

"Avengers Vol. 5" contains two stories. The first details Wonder Man's misguided attack on Avengers Mansion and Avengers Tower with several lesser-known anti-heroes (including the incredibly bungled original Venom. Funny moment as not even Spider-Man recognizes him.) The second is the resurrection of the Wasp, whose "death" is explained away as her shrinking down into an entirely different universe.

They are both terrible. Completely uninteresting cliche drivel. Would it surprise you to learn the tiny dimension is ruled by a tyrant? Of course it wouldn't. Because we've all seen the same plot a million times. The execution is OK, but ending on such a "Point A" to "Point B" story is a real disappointment.

But, oh yes, this isn't really the end of Bendis' time on the Avengers. That actually comes in "New Avengers Vol. 5" which ties in closely with "New Avengers Vol. 1." Unfortunately, it's a little too close. Brother Voodoo's brother has begun possessing people in an attempt to get revenge on the team, blaming them for the death of his sibling. Battling possessed Avengers is a cool concept. However, it had been done ONLY FOUR VOLUMES AGO. It reaches a satisfying conclusion for Doctor Strange, but... that's it.

I suppose there have been worse exits for comic writers. Unfinished stories, discreet goodbyes, etc. But given that Bendis was just moving from title to title, this is weak. I suppose you could argue that Bendis' true exit came with the "Age of Ultron," but that didn't exactly light the world on fire either.

In the end, I'll say this about Bendis' time with Earth Mightiest Heroes in the Heroic Age: skip it. Bendis did some great things with the Avengers. His peaks during this era were merely good, while the rest slides into mediocrity or - even worse - is completely forgettable.

Ratings: 4/10 ("Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5,") 5/10 ("New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5")

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