Reign drops keep falling on my head.
THE NEW AVENGERS #55
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Stuart Immonen
INKS: Wade Von Grawbadger
COLORS: Dave Mccaig
Brian Michael Bendis takes a page-and-a-half to recap the thirteen-page fight from issue #50. Afterward, the Hood bickers with his goons while Chemistro examines the busted Stark Tech power drainer the Avengers left behind. Chemistro takes the drainer to Jonas Harrow, who promises to reverse engineer this "nuclear bomb in the war on powers." The Hood, hospitalized by Doctor Voodoo, never shows to the gang’s next payment meeting, causing dissent to roil. Harrow argues that the Hood, with his unexplained intel and resources, must have made a deal with Norman Osborn behind their backs. Though upset like the others, Harrow acknowledges the advantages to having a powerful ally to keep them out of jail. With the new power drainer, they no longer need the Hood to get Osborn’s attention.
It’s not New Avengers without a long dining room chat. Spider-Man wants no one to call him "Peter" out loud, Bucky can’t get a word in edgewise about the mess in his appartment, and Clint Barton announces his intention to kill Norman Osborn. Spidey accuses Clint of cracking because he lost his cushy Avengers Mansion life to become a street level fugitive whose every attempt to set things right backfires. Clint can’t take being Peter Parker.
A Times Square Chemistro rampage cuts short the debate. The Avengers leap into battle in time for Chemistro to engulf them in power-draining vapor. The Avengers lose both their organic abilities and the use of mechanical enhancements like Spidey’s webshooters and Bucky’s arm, and they fall unconscious.
Though he never lived up to Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man, Stuart Immonen fits New Avengers like a pair of form-fitted spandex briefs. His bold style looks drastically more "cartoony" than those of the artists usually assigned to this title, but it vibrantly conveys the large, colorful cast and keeps the story engergetic throughout Bendis’ pages upon pages of dialogue and the brief action sequence. The spread of Captain America iconically leaping across the rooftops before landing in his trashed apartment with Wolverine snoring on the couch demonstrates Immonen’s ability to match Bendis’s propensity for juxtaposing the extrodinary with the mundane.
As alluded to above, we have here yet another Bendis dialogue fest. By now, anyone purchasing New Avengers knows what to expect. In all fairness, the chatter covers some interesting ground this time. On the villainous side, some of the Hood’s third stringers finally distinguish themselves from the crowd of interchangeable men in tights. It also interests me that, like the mutants in Utopia, yet another subset of the Dark Reign Marvel Universe has slipped from its respective cabal member’s control.
Some readers have labeled Clint’s murderous proposal as utterly out of character since writers generally portray him as staunchly anti-killing. However, his Immonen-drawn scrunched face and pouty nine-year-old crossed arms make this seem more like a temper tantrum than actual premeditation. Even Spider-Man has entertained the thought of killing Osborn once or twice, so surely the hotheaded Hawkeye gets a pass. The use of Spider-Man as the voice of higher morality also works. I like the idea that Spidey’s unique experience helps him cope with situations that would unhinge the establishment Avengers. By no means has Barton led an easy life, but he’s usually had a way to fight back.
The only truly irksome aspect of this issue’s characterization is that it makes the Avengers look stupid. How could a team of experienced crime fighters leave as potant a weapon as the power drainer in enemy hands? With the Hood’s gang thoroughly winded by Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel’s energy blast, they had the opportunity to snag the device before retreating.
"I should call you Spider-Man?"
"Even though I’m an adult and you’re an adult."
4 out of 5 webheads. Immonen returns a long-missing sense of fun to New Avengers.