Hey there. How are things? Things are going alright for me. There are even a bunch of things going on in this review. In fact, there are fifteen instances of the word “thing” in this review (not counting this little intro thing). Featured in this issue is our rocky hero, Thing, and then there’s the fictional store, Things-n-Things. Just something I noticed. Also, a movie poster comparison did not jump out at me so you’ll just have to live without one, unless anyone knows a good Nazi-hunting movie to base this off of. Inglorious Avengers? Alright, let’s jump into the thick of things.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #9
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mike Deodato & Howard Chaykin
Color Art: Rain Beredo & Edgar Delgado
Letters & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
The New Avengers: Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Thing, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones, Victoria Hand, Squirrel Girl.
Plot: In 1959, a young, strong-jawed Nick Fury tracked down Nazi agents in Bayamo, Cuba. Two fugitive agents spotted Fury and gave chase. In a drawn out chase scene, Fury outran one of the Nazis, who is then picked up by his ally in a car. Fury dove to the side of the speeding vehicle and tossed two grenades into the convertible. One wounded and bleeding agent crawled from the explosion and was greeted by Nick Fury and two of his partners. Nick told the Nazi that this was his “court of law” and he was found “guilty of crimes against humanity and God.” The three men shot the agent. Later, while Fury was drinking at a bar, he was approached by a General Hill. Hill told Fury to report back to Washington to help with a project called “The Avengers Initiative.”
Now, in present time, outside a local “Things-N-Things” with a going out of business sign in the window, the New Avengers watch as several semi trucks deliver equipment to the store. A woman, clad in black leather, steps out of an SUV and enters the building. According to the team’s reports, this is Dr. Deidre Wentworth, also known as Superia. Dr. Strange uses his astral form to investigate inside the building and witnesses a troupe of H.A.M.M.E.R. agents establishing a high-tech base.
Wolverine volunteers to distract the H.A.M.M.E.R. agents while the rest of the team steals their trucks. A few of the members, including Jessica Jones and Ms. Marvel, protest the plan since the bad guys technically have not done anything wrong yet. Thing is frustrated by the hesitation and leaps from the Avenger’s hiding place, crashing through the roof of the Things-N-Things. He is joined inside by Dr. Strange, Wolverine and Spider-Man. Outside, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones hijack the H.A.M.M.E.R. vehicles.
Dr. Strange summons illusions of monsters to scare the agents, Thing tosses metal debris about, and Wolverine viciously stabs people with his claws. Spider-Man pursues two bad guys who had crashed through the wall and sees Mockingbird, who had been posing undercover inside the store, take them down. Sadly, Mockingbird lets her guard down to respond to a Spidey quip, and is shot in the stomach by one of the agents. Spider-Man, who was not close enough to the situation, can only get there in time to hold her as she bleeds out.
The Heroic: The action finally picked up a bit more with this issue. The obvious driving force behind a series like the New Avengers, is to have some of Marvel’s heaviest-hitters and fan favorites team up. When they actually feature battle scenes with these characters working as one, it really helps sell the book. The action wasn’t as plentiful as it could have been, but there were some great images of the team together. The scene with Spidey, Thing, Wolverine and Dr. Strange standing in the dust of the ruble inside the building was especially awesome. There were also two really nice and artistic group shots of the team standing on the rooftop during their stakeout. I’m a sucker for scenes where an artist draws Spider-Man clinging to the side of the comic panel, and there was a scene like that. So kudos to whoever drew that scene.
I’ve never really followed Dr. Strange or his storylines, but seeing his magic in action here may make me change my opinion of him as a member of the Avengers. However, I’m not the biggest fan of the name of every spell – and the book or scroll from which it can be learned – being in the corner of every panel featuring the good doctor’s magic. I don’t think Dr. Strange’s powers require an explanation, but maybe some readers do. Bendis continues to employ witty banter between teammates, when he has Iron Fist reveal to a surprised Jessica Jones that he’s never had need for a driver’s license. I like the conflicting beliefs among the team members, and while I don’t agree with Jessica Jones and Ms. Marvel’s belief that they need to wait for the bad guys to do something wrong, it’s an interesting internal conflict for these heroes who seem to be determined to do things their way.
The storyline featuring Nick Fury and the Avengers Initiative could be interesting, although not much was said of it until the end. How this ties into the Dr. Doom plot from last issue, I’m not sure, nor am I aware if there is a connection to the operation the New Avengers just broke up. If they can work the creation of the Avengers into these stories so it makes sense, it could an intriguing plot line.
The Not-So-Heroic: I don’t know much about the early days of the Avengers, so I’m not sure how this Nick Fury storyline will fit in with the official Avengers canon. Also, Nick Fury is not my favorite character, so too much focus on his story may bring down the overall story in my opinion. The super-spy, speeding car chase scene which ends in a grenade explosion and execution just isn’t my cup of tea. And although the depiction of the Nazi being shot was cool – just showing a panel of red and then a panel of black – I don’t need all the killing and guns.
While seeing the team of heroes in action helps make this book visually appealing, reading about a team of heroes can be confusing at times. The panels which show the inside of the building being staked out by the New Avengers display the team’s speech in color coordinated boxes. It’s easy to determine who some of the boxes belong to based on color (Spidey being red for instance), or what is being said (Jessica calling out Luke Cage), but you may need to interrupt your reading once or twice to try and figure out who is saying what and that can distract from the story as a whole.
I would also like to see a more consistent team of artists working on this book. While the art was better this time around, it would still be nice to get a cohesive look from issue to issue. I would assume it is one of Marvel’s bigger titles and hopefully they will pick an artist and stick with him.
Most Valuable Avenger: Thing. The Future Foundation member has another stand-out performance in this issue. This time he actually gets to flex his rocky muscles. Even though it could come back and bite the team in the “tuchis” (to steal a Spidey word), it showed that Thing had initiative and a willingness to stomp out the bad guys when the others were hesitating. This impatience may not be the best quality to have in real life, but in a comic where it should always be “Clobbering Time,” it’s much appreciated.
Least Valuable Avenger: Mockingbird. Notice how this character was shot and I have barely said anything about her? That’s because there’s nothing to say. She wasn’t even present in the group shots of the team during their stakeout since she was conveniently undercover inside the building. In fact, if she hadn’t clearly identified herself in the beginning, you would never have picked up on the fact that it was Mockingbird. Bendis allowed Mockingbird a bit of action before she was taken out, and even though this probably won’t be a fatal, permanent injury (making it even more pointless), this could end the presence of one of the more useless Avengers on the team.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Moment: This isn’t the happiest or friendliest of Spidey moments, but it did seem somewhat reminiscent of an iconic Spidey scene. It seems fitting that it was Spider-Man to be the one who was there when Mockingbird was shot. In a full panel scene, Spidey is seen cradling a dying/unconscious blonde beauty in his arms. The boots and colors of Mockingbird’s outfit further mirror the tragic scene where Spider-Man held a deceased Gwen Stacy in his arms. As a fan of that story, I really liked that scene.
But on a happier note, before the shot rang out, Spider-Man could be heard remarking on his opinion of the sound the bad guys’ guns made:
Spidey: “I love the peeuu peeu!!”
Rating: Meh, story, writing, art and action. Poor, character development. 3/5 Avengers Assembled