"Revolution: Part Two"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Leinil Yu (p & i), Dave McCaig (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This is one book which has really benefitted from the fallout of Civil War. The story of the New Avengers has gained a new sense of immediacy as a result of the group's status as outlaw heroes, pitting them not only against their more traditional comicbook villains, but also against their own pro-registration brethren, giving the team an "outsider" vibe which makes them more attractive and more fun to root for. The loss of Captain America has allowed Luke Cage to really come into his own as team leader (he's one of the few characters that I never get tired of under Bendis' pen), and the newer cast members such as Dr. Strange, Jessica Jones, and the mysterious new Ronin all get some fun moments here.
Bendis' storytelling is stronger than in previous issues, dealing with multiple-timeline story strands which allow him to explore the formation of the newest incarnation of the team at the same time as he shows us the group in action, working to save the life of Maya Lopez who has been abducted by the Hand in Japan. After showing the aftermath of the Avengers' escape from Elektra and her ninjas in the present, Bendis flashes back to New York for a fun sequence which shows just how difficult it is for the anti-reg superheroes to operate on a day-to-day basis, and also establishes their new base of operations as Dr. Strange's hidden Sanctum (amusingly disguised as a still-under-construction Starbucks). Tying up one of the loose ends from last week's Initiative one-shot, the team is lured onto the Raft under the false impression that Captain America is still alive, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the Mighty Avengers, setting up a throwdown between the two teams which has come along surprisingly quickly.
Leinil Yu again shows off his immense artistic talent here: his Spidey, Luke Cage and Wolverine are fantastic, and he accomplishes the crowded scenes which are part and parcel of any team book with apparent ease. His exaggerated style lends humour to the sections of the book which demand it, but isn't so cartoony that the more serious sections can't carry weight too, and he manages to infuse his panels with a real dynamism despite the lack of many big action sequences in this issue. Bendis' writing is fun and energetic again, showing the kind of amusing touches of detail that have made his work so enjoyable in the past (the password to Dr. Strange's hideout suggests that the writer has been spending far too much time playing the Marvel vs. Capcom videogames - and do I detect an Incredibles homage in the sequence in which the police attempt to arrest Luke Cage?), and the story moves along at a fair old pace, promising two almighty battles for the next issue.
Yes, there are a couple of minor irritations - Bendis obviously doesn't intend to exploit the full extent of Dr. Strange's powers, and there's a silly bit of business with the Silver Samurai watching Lindsey Lohan movies - but if you can overlook these small flaws, then there's a lot to like about the book. Thinning the New Avengers down to a loose group of rebel street-level heroes has made the book more compelling and exciting than it was in previous issues, and Bendis even has the good sense to downplay the "Who is Ronin?" schtick this time around, rather than making it a central mystery for the story. I hope that the creative team keeps the standard up for this arc and beyond, because even if it still isn't the Avengers in their classic form, this feels like the book that New Avengers should have been all along.
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