Hello, Spider-Man and Avenger fans alike. Sorry for the extreme length of this first review, I can be known to ramble. Since the New Avengers have been in operation since last summer, and I already had this big six issue review put together, I figured I’d use this time to play catch up before we jumped right into New Avengers #7. So strap down your Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, we’ve got a Dr. Strange centric story to cover.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #1-6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
The New Avengers: Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Thing, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones.
Plot: After living and fighting through some of the darkest days in the Marvel Universe, the greatest heroes finally emerge into a new Heroic Age. Avengers, both old and new, enjoy a peaceful day atop Avengers Tower. The original Captain America, Steve Rogers, has been named the world’s new top cop after Norman Osborn’s fall from glory. One of Rogers’ first acts is to award Luke Cage, his biggest supporter during the superhero Civil War, the keys to Avengers Mansion and his own team of mighty heroes. These New Avengers will be free to keep the peace as they see fit, the only stipulation being that Cage hires Osborn’s former right-hand lady, Victoria Hand.
Elsewhere, former Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange meets with the Son of Satan, Daimon Hellstrom, who warns Strange that the current plane of existence is in danger. Hellstrom, revealed to be under possession, attacks Strange and turns him to his side. The two mystics set off to find the current Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Voodoo, in order to obtain the powerful Eye of Agamotto. Before they overwhelm him, Doctor Voodoo is able to send the amulet to Luke Cage and his New Avengers for protection.
Tasked with their first mission, the Avengers play keep away with the Eye of Agamotto, fighting the body jumping demon which possesses Luke Cage. When Iron Fist comes into control of the Eye, the mysterious antagonist takes control of his body and transports him to another realm. Iron Fist, whose training in the sacred arts is revealed to have saved his life, confronts the concealed foe who appears to be none other than Dr. Strange’s former master, the Ancient One. The Ancient One seeks the Eye of Agamotto in light of Strange’s recent weaknesses and failings.
Back in New York, the Avengers fight against an invading force of demons that pour forth from a tear in the sky. Dr. Strange, Hellstrom and Doctor Voodoo leave the Avengers to investigate who could be powerful enough to possess them and incite such chaos. Dr. Strange travels to the battlefront to prevent Ms. Marvel from entering the dimensional gateway. When Iron Fist returns, sporting an all new costume, he attacks and blames Strange for the current disaster. Upon hearing Iron Fist’s story of Dr. Strange’s former master, along with a passing comment by Spider-Man, Dr. Strange deduces that the perpetrator is Agamotto himself.
To end the threat from this new foe, Doctor Voodoo challenges Agamotto to a duel. Wolverine is chosen to fight in Voodoo’s stead and the New Avengers pour their collective powers and strength into the avenging X-Man. Even with the combined might of his teammates, Wolverine is unable to defeat Agamotto. Doctor Voodoo enters the battle and casts a spell which seemingly destroys himself and Agamotto, along with the Eye. In the aftermath, the spirit of Doctor Voodoo’s brother, Jericho, is enraged that the New Avengers let his brother sacrifice himself and vows revenge. Hellstrom leaves a battle torn Avengers Mansion and exhorts the gathered crowd to appreciate the fact that the world has heroes like these New Avengers.
The Heroic: Bendis’ writing is enjoyable and shows a good understanding of the many characters he has pulled together. References to bigger story arcs, such as Siege, Secret Invasion and the Civil War, reinforces the idea that the Avengers title is at the core of the entire Marvel Universe. The team is a good representation of most aspects of the MU – the Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four. No matter what your team preference is, there’s someone for you.
The banter between the team members in passing and in the heat of battle, such as the team’s conversation about Ghostbusters, helps give the vibe that these heroes are already comfortable with one another and form a competent team. Wolverine’s comment about being a member of multiple teams, the X-Men and two different Avengers teams, is a nice tongue in cheek joke in response to the character’s popularity.
The classic look of Immonen’s pencils and the bright colors used by Martin, are a perfect fit for such an iconic title. There were several scenes to make a Marvel fan smile. One in particular depicted Tony Stark selling Luke Cage Avengers Mansion with the classic Avengers on one side, passing the metaphorical baton to members of the New Avengers.
There were plenty of subtle touches to the art which further helped the story. While not a prominent character in the panel, Spider-Man’s spider-sense is still seen tingling in the background. The transformation of Agamotto into Jean Grey and other characters from Wolverine’s past to mess with his mind deserves recognition as well.
The Not-So-Heroic: The Doctor Voodoo storyline seemed a little lacking as a lead story arc to begin the title. Doctor Voodoo received a push when becoming Sorcerer Supreme back in issue #53 of the first volume of New Avengers. He didn’t seem to catch on and his limited series was cancelled after only five issues. Voodoo’s unpopularity is only reinforced by the number of times Voodoo turns to Dr. Strange for advice in this story. Furthermore, the newest Sorcerer Supreme isn’t even able to fight his own battle as they decide that Wolverine will take his place in the climactic battle. The whole story seems like a drawn out plot just to kill one weak character, and pave the way for Dr. Strange to reacquire his title of Sorcerer Supreme.
Iron Fists new white and gold costume didn’t seem as that dramatic a change and shouldn’t be worn after Labor Day. Hawkeye appeared in the beginning, only to leave halfway through the arc when he was called away on a priority Avengers call. He commented he was only there to hang out with his girlfriend, Mockingbird, anyway.
Most Valuable Avenger: Spider-Man. Bendis shows off his experience in writing Spidey. Not only did Spider-Man stumble upon the solution to the mystery, but he was shown to work well with many of his new teammates. His banter about catchphrases and stabbing doctors with the Thing and Wolverine, respectively, were pure Spider-Man wittiness. The artistic touches, such as his spider-sense, and the clever use of his webbing to build a roof over Dr. Strange and Ms. Marvel, helped Spidey shine as a great utility member of the team. Luke Cage, for leading and building the team, deserves an honorable mention.
Least Valuable Avenger: Mockingbird. She adds nothing to the story other than to justify Hawkeye hanging around in the beginning. She stole an iPhone from a teenage spectator just so she could record the team’s fight against a demonically-possessed Luke Cage. The teen, probably like most fans, didn’t seem to mind her general uselessness because, as the youth quipped, “she’s insanely hot.”
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Moment: Overheard in an exchange between Spider-Man and Wolverine after the clawed mutant attacks the possessed Dr. Strange. Spider-Man: “We need a doctor. If only we had one – oh wait, you stabbed the doctor.”
Rating: 4/5 Avengers Assembled