Luke Cage still has a job to do. He still has friends and family. He still wants to keep them safe. He’s just not sure if he wants to go back to working for Steve Rogers, so the former Captain America gives Luke the run of Avengers Mansion and leaves to assemble his own team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Now I’m really disappointed in the Avengers. You figure with all their monetary means through crime fighting and selling $3.99 comic books that this conglomerate of heroes could afford a real moving company.
As usual, it’s do-it-yourself, with brawny show-offs such as Luke Cage and the Thing holstering their hide-a-beds over their left shoulders. One could only imagine.
Now what does this have to do with anything? Promotion, of course. Marvel loves to solicit the heck out of solicits so why not bolster the revenue of yours truly’s only claim to funds? I won’t do it here, but at least another Atlas, I mean, ahem, super group does it every month their book is released.
This was a fun book. This first issue of the second volume of New Avengers continues many of the threads, with many of the same liberties, as the ever-so-successful 64 issues of the first series had. Luke Cage is running the team thanks to Captain Super Soldier--and, unsurprisingly, many of the same Avengers from the Avengers join the New Avengers.
As if there weren’t enough Avengers.
Thankfully, writer Brian Michael Bendis adds a lot more to the story than just dinner-time quips and Heroic Age rejuvenations. One of the New Old Avengers most potential-leading stories is continued here--with Doctor Strange and Daimon Hellstrom overcome by mystical means with eyes towards the Eyes of Agamatto and the looming death (?) of Doctor Voodoo.
By no means is that a spoiler, as this is a Bendis book; this is comics, and it’s sure to be revealed that the Sorcerer Supreme was overtaken by a negative zone timeline in an alternate reality. In other words, expect a lot of magic.
It boggles me each time I write these reviews when I leave the art comments last--for these Avengers books have never looked prettier. Even if you can’t stand Bendis-speak, Marvel’s in top shape with Alan Davis on Prime, John Romita Jr. on the adjectiveless Avengers, and Stuart Immonen staying here on New.
Immonen might just be the best of them. Reading this comic was almost like watching a really good straight-to-DVD Marvel cartoon, as these pencils were as live as it gets. Even if you are starting to see several heroes on several books (Bendis does a nice job fourth walling it with Wolverine), Immonen’s take on them adds new dimension.
Now, if only the New Avengers hired me to do all their moving, I could surely use the hours . . . or the dollar tip (thanks Tony!).
New Avengers offers just about everything a reader could want from an Avengers book--a fun and accessible story, impressive artwork, a compelling lineup of characters, and pitch-perfect humor.
From the very first page, it is obvious that Bendis plans to continue spotlighting the mystical side of the Marvel Universe--to which he similarly devoted the previous volume of New Avengers during its latter half--and, with the introduction of a flagship Avengers title, this arguably narrow focus finally begins to feel a bit welcome.
Stuart Immonen continues his stint as penciler while Wade Von Grawbadger and Laura Martin join him to provide inks and colors, respectively; the result is an often-beautiful book. From the crowded and bright opening scene practically bursting with background cameos to the dank and ethereal sequences of mystic warfare, the art team turns in uniformly impressive work. Whereas his style never quite felt natural within the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man, Immonen is clearly in his element with New Avengers, and my hope is that he enjoys a lengthy run on the title.
I am not yet convinced that The Thing will be an effective addition to the roster, but the remainder of Cage’s choices are extremely promising; Ms. Marvel and Iron Fist are particularly pleasing “hires” given the respective cancellation and hibernation of their solo titles. Victoria Hand, meanwhile, should serve as an adequate foil for our nonconformist band of heroes, and she may very well be the wisest decision Bendis has made in respect to this title’s cast.
While Doctor Voodoo’s apparent (and notably off-camera) death is announced at the issue’s conclusion, I am no more convinced of his passing than I am willing to believe his title’s cancellation a product of meticulous plotting rather than crap sales. Ah, well--one can certainly hope.
In stark contrast to the recent debut of Avengers Prime, this script presents Bendis at his very best. The characters’ voices are congruent with their personalities and histories, and the frequent banter (such as Wolverine acknowledging membership on three separate teams, or Rand’s attempts to claim partial ownership of the value menu-priced Mansion) never sounds “talky” or contrived.
Finally, I want to reiterate from my recent review of Prince of Power #1 the appreciation I have for the various backmatter that Marvel is now offering within several of their $3.99 books. The added value is tangible for the reader, and it goes a long way toward establishing good will amongst fans of this increasingly expensive hobby. Bendis’s “Oral History of the Avengers” is unique and engaging, and I for one look forward to following along throughout the coming months. Marvel: Please continue this trend!
In short, fans of the Avengers and/or particular members of the cast will find plenty to like in New Avengers. It may not break any new ground for the genre, but what it offers is solid writing and art from beginning to end.
Okay, I did not see that coming. I was cynically waiting to see how Bendis was going to cope with the decidedly jarring sounds of something called the Heroic Age--which just seemed outside his skill set of darkness, violence, dark violence, cursing, and locker room put downs. But now I get it. Now I know how he’s going to do it.
He’s going to bring the funny. He’s actually never been a bad joke teller (even considering some of the best weren’t always told on purpose). If Avengers is going to take over from old New Avengers with the Big Three, and Academy is going to pick up what was going on in Initiative, while Secret sort of offers us a Defenders-style version of Mighty, then new New Avengers can be the comedy team.
Because that’s what we’ve got here, and damn if it isn’t amusing when:
- Luke tells Cap what he can do with his return.
- Cap tells Luke whom he can have on his team.
- Tony sells Avengers Mansion to Luke for a $1 (yep, just like that, years and years of ruins wiped away with “newly restored;” do they get Jarvis, too?).
- Victoria Hand applies for a job with a fully loaded rifle aimed at Luke’s (non-Skrull) baby.
Hand is perhaps accepted a trifle too easily, but Bendis has laid the groundwork for the quirks of this character in Dark Avengers. We’ve seen why she chose to work with (not against) Osborn, what drove her to take her own maverick trajectory through he ranks of S.H.E.I.L.D., and that she’s actually sorry for how things went down. She even swears she was about to take Norman out when he lost it himself, and even Wolverine believes her (by smell).
She’s basically Marvel’s very own Tea Bagger, setting herself up to call everyone on the carpet at any provocation she thinks worthy, and operating with no allegiances to any political or moral pole other than her own. Everyone’s become an Objectivist these days (with a charming innocence that only gets them into trouble), and we might as well study how one works under the watchful eye of some of the more pragmatic Avengers.
It’s also good to see Luke embedded in his support system (Danny and Ben Grimm, for a serving of the usual and the why not?), as well as the ongoing intimate bickering that comprises how Luke and his old lady work things out (and I’m very curious to see Jewel actually live up to her promise as a hero after years of not feeling worthy of the uniform).
Bendis even offers a contrasting subplot (well, it waits almost a whole issue until it becomes the A-plot, which is kind of a record for BMB) of deadly sorcererous seriousness involving Hellstrom, Stephen Strange, and Brother Voodoo,and his . . . brother.
Here we might expect to find some unintentional humor, but even the proven weakness when it comes to Marvel magicians has a bright new polish. This time Bendis is actually referencing respectable sounding English-translated spells to explain the particular magickal hi-jinks, rather than resorting to the fakey non-linguistic babytalk that so marred the “spells” used in Dark Avengers.
The Pratfall Avengers? With this cast and this artist, bring it on!
I admit my bullet score for this issue is in equal parts due to Immonen’s brilliant artwork. It’s a rare artist whose anatomy is the equal of his design sense and his ability to render believable emotions. There’s also the fact that he is actually symbolic continuity for these characters, as he knows them from all the way back to the Busiek days. Did I mention his timing with all the jokes?
The Stooges Avengers! The Bert & Ernie Avengers? The Lenny Bruce Avengers!
Unlike some of my Comics Bulletin colleagues, I was actually quite fond of Brian Michael Bendis’s post-Civil War version of New Avengers. Month after month, the witty banter between a makeshift super-team on the run that was in over its head proved reliably entertaining.
With my roots as a comics fan more firmly planted in DC lore than in Marvel’s, it never bothered me that these weren’t the “real” Avengers. Truth be told (and at the risk of ostracizing myself among my fellow reviewers), my lack of prior exposure to the franchise made Bendis’s group feel more like “my” Avengers than any other incarnation.
Now that good once again reigns over evil in the Marvel Universe, as indicated by the Heroic Age banner plastered across multiple covers, it no longer makes sense for the publisher’s premier team to resemble a ragtag band of outlaws. Thankfully for folks like me, the spirit of New Avengers lives on in its second volume.
I’ll admit up front that the premise behind this book--the fourth Avengers ongoing series to debut in the past month--is a bit contrived. Even the many self-aware jokes peppered throughout the script can’t mask the oddity of a second assemblage of Avengers in New York City--over a third of whom actively serve on other teams.
Granting Bendis a smidgen of creative license, however, there’s a lot to like here. These Newer Avengers possess all the charm they once did just a short time ago in the previous series.
First and foremost are the wisecracks and self-deprecating one-liners that the Bendis-era Avengers have become known for. Critics of the writer’s sense of dialogue are quick to forget that it is genuinely funny more often than not--nowhere in this issue more so than when Steve Rogers tells Luke Cage which heroes are off-limits for his new team.
There’s also the continuation of the New Avengers tradition of having the characters stumble into adventures rather than actively seeking them out. Once again, this team is embroiled in a conflict involving Earth’s present and former Sorcerers Supreme--harkening back to a story arc from the original run.
To top it all off, Stuart Immonen is still on board as artist--putting on a clinic when it comes to bold superhero imagery. Amongst the many things he regularly does well, the shadows he casts over the eyes of the villains this issue are particularly indicative of his mastery over the medium.
That Bendis persists in winning over his old fans is of little surprise. Now that New Avengers no longer bears the burden of being its line’s flagship book, perhaps it is time for yesterday’s naysayers to also give it a shot.
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