Friday, July 23, 2010

New Avengers #2 Review

New Avengers relaunched with a new #1 last month (which I reviewed here) and this second issue shows us what happens after Luke Cage gets his hand on the Eye of Agamotto. There’s plenty of mystical craziness and lots of fighting but is it actually a good issue, you’ll have to hit the jump to see what I think.

New Avengers #2
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by Stuart Immonen
Inks by Wade Von Grawbadger

The double splash opens up with us seeing Luke Cage clutching Dr Strange’s old bling in his hand and he’s filling the room as he expands. I don’t know why he’s expanding, none of the other characters expanded, it never mentions why this happens, but it sure makes things uncomfortable. He’s not fitting in the room and it only take one issue and a few extra pages for this team of Avengers to break their abode. It’s a pretty tired schtick and there’s no freshness breathed into it here.

What proceeds are a fair few pages of everyone fighting, punching, stabbing, clobbering, mugging for some panel time, and just generally stumbling after the Eye of Agamotto like it’s a bar of soap in prison and everyone wants to be the new guy. The pace of this comic tears across pretty fast and nearly everyone gets something to do, except I don’t really get why Mockingbird raced off to get an iPhone to film the fight in the park. Is she the team videographer now? Is this for post-fight analysis and breakdown? Was there a double rainbow in the background? Maybe we’ll never know.

The demon possessing Cage seems to be having fun at the expense of the humans around it but then it finds a more appropriate host, the person holding the Eye at that very precise moment. Just because the Thing has a line that he should have seen this coming doesn’t excuse it for being a pretty terrible series of events. These Avengers pretty quickly get caught off guard and then well schooled.

With the Eye gone, all of the mystical characters seem pretty upset. Were it not for the tears on their faces I would not have taken this scene seriously at all because the lead up fights and flights were so ludicrous and pun riddled that the entire issue was a big It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World pastiche of slapstick and spandex. To then flip this entirely on its head and try to make it seem like these men are truly seeing the end of days coming seemed a little confusing. But this did not detract from the end of the issue setting up the next one in a pretty great way; the Eye is gone, as is one New Avenger, and the skies are opening up in a big bad way.

The vibe I’m getting is that Bendis is having a blast writing this story, and it sure as heckfire is fun, but is he creating anything great? And then the question needs to be asked, in New Avengers does he need to create anything great or does he need everyone involved to have fun? This is either like when Queen and David Bowie got together in the studio and we got Under Pressure out of it or it’s like when the whole crew met up to make Ocean’s 12 and it didn’t go so well or it just might be like Jeph Loeb on Hulk and it’s just fun for the whole family. Perhaps you need to decide.

My major distraction, and the first time I’ve really come across it, is that I am finally seeing/hearing the Bendis voice. I know this is a team of pretty kooky characters (Spider-Man, the Thing, even Iron Fist has been known to produce a chuckle) but I don’t want everyone hamming it up completely. Ms Marvel should be a soldier not a muckraker in the midst of battle and I certainly don’t want Wolverine being verbose. He’s like the Punisher, the less you make him say the more he says (you know what I’m saying?). Instead, Bendis has Wolverine cram his mouth full of all sorts of multi-clause sentences. I mean, why couldn’t those lines have gone to poor old Clint Barton, he only gets one line, and about as many panels. Wolvie just shouldn’t sound like the rest of the crew; in fact, none of them should really sound the same. Spidey was an individual because he’s the funny one, now everyone’s making with the yucks and I find it distracting, though I know this isn’t a new complaint about Bendis, it just is for me. It is nice to see Wolvie also get a few ass kicking scenes that seem in keeping with his characterisation, though.

Immonen’s art, as usual, is pretty damn fine. He draws this series like it always should have been drawn, and each character looks just like you want them to. His fight choreography is snappy and fun and he makes each page seem like it’s zooming past you in motion. I have no real complaints here because to delve in would be to nitpick and I don’t want to do that, even though I’ve probably already done it far too much this review.

Just as the previous issue introduced the team, kind of, and then set up a bad guy against them, this issue gives us the good guys versus the bad guys and by the end of the issue things are made worse. It’s just what you expect early in an arc and I am interested in seeing where the next issue takes things. From the cover we can see Wolvie, Strange and Iron Fist will play a large part of the proceedings so I’m probably in for that.

Verdict – Check It. It’s not perfection but if you kick back and sip on a brew with this issue you’ll probably be happy with a massive fight that leads our heroes into a situation that does not look completely promising. I’ll wait this arc out but then I’ll just say Iron Fist will be getting his own ongoing/mini from Fred Van Lente and I’ll have somewhere else to get my monthly Rand fix.

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twobitspecialist said...

Dang it. I didn't even know this was out already. I have to go back to my LCS.

Matt Duarte said...

I haven't read this issue yet, but it seems that Bendis is intent in continuing to piss off older Marvel fans, especially Doc Strange fans. How the hell is the Eye of Agamotto doing all this again?

Anonymous said...

i know there are a ton of complaints, and i agree with the bendis speak, but whatever, i had too much fun reading this. so far this is my fav avengers title, as it reminds me most of the buseik/perez era (avengers i grew up reading). where as the main avengers title is chaos in the way i can't follow what's going on, this title is chaos with structure. good times.

Steven said...

Now that you've heard the Bendis-speak, you'll never read another book by him without hearing it. You won't even be able to reread old stuff without hearing it.

The book is fun and better than Bendis' other Avengers book, but despite the great art, Bendis cannot write action scenes. And Immonen can only do so much. Compare his action work in books like Nextwave with well written action. This is a big ol' cluster#$@k. Badly choreographed and ridiculously compressed to boot. The whole issue was an under 5 minute long fight scene.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Yeah, the voice threw me off but it was a fun issue. I'll kick along with it purely to see where Iron Fist went but don't think this will be a title on my forever pull list, especially not after some of the other announcements this week.

Deicide The Everliving said...

I really liked how Bendis handled magic this time. Usually he just makes a character says gibberish and something unexplained happens and we readers are meant to accept that it happened and that's it. This time, whenever a spell was cast, the "narrator" would say the spell's name, origin and purpose. It's a lot better to understand and accept it with that technique.

Anonymous said...

the book does not have a purpose yet it it is still fun . sick and tired of people bitching about this

Anonymous said...

"Verdict - Check It. It’s not perfection but if you kick back and sip on a brew with this issue you’ll probably be happy with a massive fight that leads our heroes into a situation that does not look completely promising."

What part of that is "bitching". Every comment has been relatively positive too.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 7 and 8

stop trying to start arguements

I love the book

twobitspecialist said...

I wish I hadn't found out about the "Bendis speak."

I went ahead and bought this issue. I chuckled and greatly overall.

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