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Mighty Avengers #13

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Brian Michael Bendis
Alex Maleev
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Mighty Avengers #13 arrives in stores tomorrow, May 7.

So it looks like the titles The Mighty Avengers and New Avengers really aren't going to mean much for the duration. Instead they're apparently going to equal Secret Invasion chapters and provide back and side stories for the Big Event. Since, you know, both teams are off in the Savage Land facing off with Skrulls (or are they?) as we speak.

But guess what? I don't care. Some will. Some will complain that this book is called The Mighty Avengers, but where are the Avengers? They should be here.

Well, you're just going to have to get over that or stop reading now. Save some money. Go see Iron Man instead, if it's that big a deal. That's money well spent.

For me, having Bendis working with Maleev again is enough of a joy that I don't care if they called it The Mighty Morning Dump, I'd at least want to take a look at it and see what they'd been eating. Their Daredevil run is one of my favorites of all time and each hardback has a place of honor on my shelf, so I'm predisposed to at least want to like whatever they do.

And this time out they don't pull a Millar/Hitch FF fumble and instead are putting together an interesting little piece of work focusing on Nick Fury, recently of S.H.I.E.L.D. (of course, recently is a relative term, as, according to the recap page, "Recently, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury staged a secret war," and that was published in 2004-2005 and involved events that happened at least a year prior to that story). It's not spotless, mind you, but this issue is an economically paced "origin of a super-team" story that follows Daisy Johnson (have we seen her since Secret War?) as she rounds up a bunch of super powered next gens of various heroes and villains along with one fellow whose heritage we don't yet know.

Bendis' writing here is pretty much typical Bendis. All the characters sound pretty much the same. The pacing of dialogue is all pretty much the standard staccato rhythm of Bendis-speak. Everyone is pretty much clever with banter back and forth that we can pretty much expect. If you like it in his other work, you'll probably like it here. Me, I didn't dislike it enough to be a problem, but it pretty much knocks the book down a bit in my evaluation.

There also seems to be a pacing issue with the entire story. Daisy is rounding up five recruits, or "caterpillars" (as Fury calls them), and each character gets less and less face time as the book moves on. I won't go into who each character is, as this is an advance review and spoilers should be at a minimum, but the first gets five pages of attention, the next two get four pages each, then we get one page of a character who doesn't join, two pages of our fourth new face, and then one page for our last newbie. It seems rushed by the time we get to the last page.

And we don't even know what the last guy's powers are. He's just a big guy who punched a cop. I guess there'll be more info later. To be honest, though, none of the characters seem all that interesting at this point.

So, essentially, there's a fair amount of story here, but not a lot of story all at the same time. It could have used a few more pages to really flesh everything out effectively. This is a direct result of how Bendis paces his dialogue. The attempts at naturalistic pauses, repetitions, etc. that are supposed to create believable-sounding speech, comes at a price. Bendis sacrifices page count for verisimilitude and this time it ends up hurting the amount of narrative that can fit into the limited number of pages he has to work with.

Luckily, (for me, anyway) he's got Alex Maleev on art chores, and while the story ends up skipping along awkwardly, it still looks great. The first time I ever saw Maleev's work on Daredevil all those years ago, I was hooked. This was believable people in believable costumes running around doing believable violence to one another. I loved it.

Here, we don't get much by way of costumes, or action, either. There are a few dynamic moments as powers manifest or are demonstrated, but the rest of the book is Daisy talking to a bunch of people in a variety of settings around the world. It could be boring (and I'm sure some readers will find it terribly so), but Maleev crafts each panel meticulously and orchestrates the movement from panel to panel like a cinematographer. This is a Nick Fury/superhero adventure as filmed by Martin Scorsese in his prime.

All in all, this is an interesting bit of narrative movement in the Nick Fury saga, if not the most efficient. The new faces all have potential and I appreciate the fact that it didn't take six issues to gather them up and get the story started. I think I like the Bendis/Maleev take on Nick Fury more than I like The Mighty Avengers, so it gets 3.5 bullets from me. It's a little bit of a step down from last issue (which I really enjoyed), but still keeps the Secret Invasion story moving. I'm curious to see where this goes.







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