Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Avengers: The Reunion #1 Review

Written by Jim McCann
Art by David Lopez

In the desire to be open and honest with you guys, I'd like to preface my review by saying that I was sent a review copy of New Avengers: The Reunion #1. I'd like to believe that I will still be impartial and avoid any kind of bias when reviewing this issue, but you deserve to know that I did, in fact, get this from Marvel for free.

That said, I had not even planned to pick this issue up prior to being sent an advance review copy, but, after having read it, I liked it enough that I will be going out and buying my own copy (I have a digital version) on Wednesday.

Hit the jump for the rest of the review and be warned, there are spoilers (but nothing too shocking) within.

This mini-series actually continues from the Dark Reign: New Nation one-shot that featured previews of multiple upcoming projects, including Secret Warriors and Agents of Atlas, to name a few. You won't need to read the introduction in New Nation to understand The Reunion, but it will help set the stage for what's going on with Hawkeye/Ronin and Mockingbird post-Secret Invasion.

For a quick recap of New Nation, though, Clint and Bobbi had a fight and she left their hideout at Captain America's loft with 'vital information' on something Skrull related. The story ended with her leaving a voice message to an unknown person using her SHIELD Agent 19 call sign.

The Reunion picks up shortly after these events with Mockingbird breaking into a hospital. However, before she can get into too much trouble, Ronin was quick to catch up to her. McCann does an excellent job with the chemistry between these two characters. It's clear that they still have a spark between them, but the recent events in their lives - Clint back from the dead and Bobbi back from her Skrull abduction - has left a void in their relationship and, while Clint is all gung-ho about getting back together, Bobbi can't seem to reconcile between what's real and what's not between them, as evidenced by her numerous, brief flashbacks to her Skrull imprisonment.

After meeting up with Mockingbird, we are treated to a flashback of how Ronin tracked her down. This lead to one of the best scenes in the issue - the confrontation between Clint and Bucky, the new Captain America. Clint has always butted heads with the original Captain America, so it was quite entertaining to see him meet up with the successor, a role he turned down when Iron Man offered it to him and something he even throws back in Bucky's face during the heat of the moment.

While there was no cliched superhero fight between the two, it was heated confrontation that ended with Bucky giving some very sage and Steve Rogers-like advice and a seeming respect between the two characters shining through that was the highlight of the issue for me.

With the flashback taken care of, we were given some action as we find out exactly why Bobbi was at this particular hospital. It turns out it was actually a front for AIM biological research and she is hunting them down. Our required action sequence plays out, along with some playful dialogue between Mockingbird and Ronin before the duo escape, having found out the weapon they were looking for has been shipped off site already.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the issue, but it wasn't without its problems, either. While it's understandable that Mockingbird would have some pyschological problems post-abduction, we're never allowed into her mindset long enough to really understand just what is driving her to her current actions. Add in we're intentionally kept in the dark about the nature of her Agent 19 business (SHIELD is dissolved at this point, so is it Nick Fury or not?) and the fact Mockingbird appears fine in New Avengers (her text boxes indicate she's happy just cracking skulls and content where she's at in NA#50) and it's as if we have two versions of the same character going around or the timelines aren't clearly defined, but that latter problem is more a problem with writers using the same character on different books than the fault of McCann.

Verdict - Check It. McCann doesn't knock it out of the park on his first big foray into writing, but, to continue with the baseball metaphor, it's easily a solid ground rule double and enough to have me come back again next month to find out more.

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Matt Ampersand said...

I'm curious, what format did Marvel send you the comic in? PDF?

Eric Rupe said...

You know, every time I see this a voice in the back of my head screams "GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY!"

Kirk Warren said...

@Matt - It was a pdf.

@Eric - Ahah, now I can't get that idea of GA&BC out of my head.

Andrenn said...

This series looks interesting but from the preview I have zero interest in it. I read the whole Clint/Bucky talk and to me it was really poor/petty of Clint. That's just how I saw it. Good review though.

Cat said...

Glad to hear it's at least a "check it" Clint & Bobbi have been my all time fave marvel characters since the Hawkeye mini by Mark Gruenwald back in the 80's.
Thanks for the review!

Steven R. Stahl said...

My local comics shop will probably have pulled a copy for me, so I’ll be reading it today, but the only thing that matters is whether McCann came up with a way around Mockingbird’s death in AVENGERS WEST COAST #100. From what I saw in a CBR interview, he didn’t. Citing trickery by Mephisto is a non-answer to a question. McCann sets up a steep slippery slope: If Mephisto lied about her death, what else did he (it) lie about? Everything he’s ever been involved in? Is the entire history of the Marvel Universe false?

If Mephisto is to be a usable character, then the reader has to assume that plot points involving him are valid, unless the writer who pens them establishes otherwise, solidly. Having another writer claim, about 16 years later, that her death was false is the antithesis of solidity. The story is a fraud.


Steven R. Stahl said...


What McCann had Barton say happened when Mockingbird died in AWC #100 did not happen. Far from it. She died in Hawkeye’s arms, fatally injured by the brimstone Mephisto spewed. She did not turn to dust, and was buried conventionally. McCann’s approach of ignoring what happened was worse than claiming Mephisto used trickery.

McCann had Barton idolize Cap like Bendis did in NEW AVENGERS, but the opposite was true. Barton resented military authority and was a natural rebel, a pragmatist, and a master of improvisation.

S.H.I.E.L.D.’s role in the Marvel Universe as a high-tech intelligence/law enforcement agency/was far different from its role in “Civil War.” McCann ignored that in claiming that Morse was abducted years ago. It was odd to see Barton saying how he’s mourned Morse’s death for years and to have McCann claim that intelligence matters would lie unresolved for years, waiting for her to come back.

A.I.M. was not a “terrorist” group prior to the Bendis-verse being formed. Marvel shouldn’t claim that it was.

McCann is apparently familiar enough with action-adventure and spy fiction to get the tone of the story right--the Barnes-Barton sequence was pretty good--but the continuity was a disgraceful mess, so the story was a disgraceful mess. “Continuity” must be a curse word around Marvel these days.

I realize that it’s tempting to just give in, to look for things to like about the new versions of Morse and Barton and to go forward, but that’s an endorsement of incompetent, or absent, editing. There’s not just one right way to write a story, but McCann and his editor, Schaefer, chose a wrong way.


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