theavengers_fcbdOn the first Saturday of each May, the North American comic book industry gives away truckloads of comics in order to draw folks into shops and hook new fans. This year, Marvel offered an exclusive, full length Avengers story for the event. Better yet, the story focuses on SPIDER-MAN, the greatest superhero that ever lived! Ergo, it warrants a review.

And the review warrants your comments!

“The Way Things Are…”
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Jim Cheung
INKS: Mark Morales
COLORS: John Rauch
LETTERER: Cory Petit

Spider-Man, the greatest, most super-duper awesome guy ever, swings around a snowy NYC in time to watch Ymir, the frost giant, KO Thor. Our plucky hero summons the Avengers, who fight futily until the Dark Avengers arrive. The two teams punch each other a bit until Iron Patriot demands they cooperate against the greater threat. Ares leads the combined Avengers to a frozen castle in a dimension between those of God and Man, where they plow through a swarm of winged goblins to a mystical sword that can defeat Ymir. They succeed, but Osborn tries to arrest the good guys despite their help. Thor intervenes, and the two teams separate, waiting for the inevitable day when they must do battle for real.

A free promotional comic should gateway new readers into the Marvel Universe while hopefully entertaining established fans. Obviously, I fall into the latter camp, and from that perspective I give this issue a thumbs up. The clean, on-model and vibrant art alone looks worthy of a full-priced book, but I also enjoyed the story more than most of Bendis’ New Avengers run to date. The Avengers actually go out to do things and fight people instead of watching TV and eating takeout Chinese. While not a pivotal story, a comic only attainable on a single day shouldn’t be.

Only Brian Michael Bendis’ irritating Spider-Man voice mars my reccomendation to Ebay shoppers. Bendis’ depthless, unfunny, ADHD take on Spider-Man has blemished New Avengers for years, but this time he narrates the whole issue in that persona. Spidey sounds like an ejaculating fanboy geeking out at every turn, delivering running commentary like “That’s Norman Osborn. NORMAN OSBORN! That name ring a bell? It should … he’s only THE GREEN GOBLIN!!” Twenty-four pages of that gives the experience an air of forced excitement.

Writing Spider-Man is a balancing act. Make him upbeat but introspective, good-natured but irreverent, not a teenaged valley girl on crack.

Thankfully, the narration tones down as the action ramps up, and overall we get a sufficiently entertaining adventure. For a writer known for meandering, multi-part stories written to fill trade paperbacks, Bendis can write a decent single when he wants to. If Marvel made every issue of the for-profit New Avengers series this satisfying, this fun, and this pretty, I would not buy them so grudgingly.

3.5 webheads out of 5. Worth a mild to moderate level of effort to obtain.


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