There she blows! Like a giant whale breaking the water for air, the New Avengers review has resurfaced. You know what they say, better late than never. Sadly there’s not a whole lot of things that are better in this issue than the last one and we continue to follow an overworked Bendis rewriting the history of Avenger lore. If Bendis is Captain Ahab, then the Marvel Universe is the white whale he so desperately longs to sink with a great harpoon. What’s with all the Moby Dick references? Read the review below and you’ll find out.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #11
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 a Barrington, Rhode Island hospital, doctors push a dying Mockingbird on a gurney. Thing, Dr. Strange and Spider-Man look on as the doctors operate on their teammate. The heroes are helpless as Mockingbird begins to flat line.
Dr. Strange teleports the three of them back to the scene of the H.A.M.M.E.R. hideout where the rest of the New Avengers are recovering from the attack by Superia. Ms. Marvel expresses her disappointment in how poorly the team handled the situation. One of the arrested H.A.M.M.E.R. agents speaks up in praise of Superia and Luke Cage silences him by punching him in the face. Spider-Man offers the idea that Victoria Hand, the team’s government liaison and a former H.A.M.M.E.R. agent herself, had set them up.
Hand meets with Commander Steve Rogers in Avengers Tower and reports on the New Avenger’s mission. Hawkeye is also present when Hand explains that Mockingbird was seriously injured in the altercation. Hawkeye rushes off to be with his ex-wife, and Hand confesses to Rogers that she is afraid the team will blame her for the disastrous outcome of the mission.
In 1959, Nick Fury met with his team of Avengers in the backroom of a tavern in Helsinborg, Sweden. Sabretooth asked Fury why they were there instead of hunting Nazis in Germany or South America. Fury informed the team that the Red Skull had been seen several times over the previous year establishing a new Reich in Sweden. This team of Avengers, described by Fury as a fighting battalion, was put together to take down the Red Skull’s new operation.
Later, the black ops team of Avengers put their plan in motion when Sabretooth threw himself in front of a truck driven by a Nazi soldier. The driver exited the vehicle to check on the wounded pedestrian but is taken by surprise when Sabretooth grabbed him by the neck. Sabretooth brutally ripped the Nazi’s throat out and the Avengers confiscated the vehicle.
Ulyssess Bloodstone drove the truck to the Nazi headquarter where he is stopped by several guards. The Nazis demanded to know who Bloodstone was and forced him to open the back of the truck. The Avengers poured out of the vehicle, guns blazing, and began shooting up the hideout. When the team started to become overwhelmed by Nazi soldiers, Fury called in Namora from reserve. The Atlantean femme fatale came crashing in over the wall riding a giant whale and a huge tidal wave.
Fury led his team of Avengers into the hideout in pursuit of Red Skull only to learn that the villain had given them the slip. The headquarters went up in a fiery explosion and Fury began to call for his team to withdraw but they are stopped when an evil-looking Captain America blocked their retreat.
The Heroic: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That saying also holds true of the art in any comic book featuring multiple artists. Deodato’s art for the New Avengers scene is once again fantastic and if this was a comic featuring Deodato’s art on every page, then it would be a strong issue. However, Chaykin’s work in the scenes featuring the 1959 Avengers brings the overall look of the book down again. Even though I don’t like the way he draws faces, there are times that they still look refined and tolerable. However, Sabretooth and Namora’s faces in particular almost always look sloppy and rushed.
Victoria Hand’s guilt over the failed mission was well done. I liked seeing her struggle with breaking the news to Hawkeye and then confessing to Steve Rogers that she knew the Avengers wouldn’t trust her. I think the idea of having her work for a psycho like Norman Osborn, and then have her work with such a moral hero like Steve Rogers, will be a good test for her character. Under Osborn, she was able to be more cold and all-business, but here she will actually have to deal with the personal feelings and ramifications that are the results of her failures.
The Not-So-Heroic: The title on the cover is “The Race to Save Mockingbird,” but nobody seems to be racing anywhere. The New Avengers sit on the side lines in this issue while the story focuses even more on the 1959 Avengers and their mission. This team just does not interest me though. I don’t like the idea that this team of Avengers was founded before the classic Avenger team that everyone knows and is fond of. There’s nothing saying that these teams share any sort of connection, other than name, but it’s that name that I don’t appreciate them using. Sure the Avengers is based on the concept of giving people a second chance, but some of these are characters that shouldn’t even be offered a first chance.
This team is just a glorified hit squad. The splash page of them all jumping out of the truck, guns blazing, is just not the heroic picture I want to see from my team of Avengers. The reason I like Iron Man more than War Machine, and the reason I dislike characters such as Cable and Bishop in the X-Men, is because there’s nothing interesting about them besides their big guns. But I guess if you don’t have a big gun, you might as well use a big whale. Wait, what? Seriously, I had to look up the location of Helsingborg on a map and make sure it’s near a large body of water. Am I really supposed to believe Namora rode a giant whale down the North Sea? And how does she send it back to the ocean? It’s not like it’s a dog that followed her home or something.
Besides that scene, which came off more goofy than epic, the ultra violence in this issue is somewhat off-putting. Especially when you see that Marvel rated this comic an “A,” or “Appropriate for age 9 and up.” This was a problem in last issue too. You have numerous pages devoted to just shooting and throwing grenades, and a main plot line of a hero dying from a gunshot wound, and this is kid friendly? Sabretooth is so riddled with bullets at times, that he looks like an exploding ketchup packet. Then there’s the scene where Sabretooth just flat out mutilates the driver of the van and is shown holding a bloody larynx in his sharp-clawed hand. Marvel should really reevaluate their rating system.
If that’s not offensive enough for you, Bendis’ writing could also be this story’s undoing. Instead of trying to explain what Bendis is trying to say, I’ll just give some examples. Nick Fury told his team that they weren’t going to be infiltrating Red Skull’s operation: “It ain’t gonna be none of you.” Fury again calls in Namora and her whale friend: “Show them what God looks like!” The H.A.M.M.E.R. agent’s explanation of who Superia was: “She’s the face of your fail.” This was some pretty unbearable dialogue.
Most Valuable Avenger: This is going to be the “Somewhat Valuable Avenger” because no one really did anything. The co-captains of the team, Luke Cage and Ms. Marvel, were the only ones who did anything worth noting. Ms. Marvel realistically assessed the outcome of their fight and Luke Cage punched out the arrogant and foolish H.A.M.M.E.R. agent.
Least Valuable Avenger: Is it wrong to make a dying person the LVA? Mockingbird is more of a plot point than a member of this team and her ineffectiveness as an Avenger is underlined when even the doctor admits he had never heard of her. The doctor is totally correct in questioning why someone without any real powers is running around with these heavy hitters.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Moment: Spidey’s paranoia and his accusation that Victoria Hand had set them up was pretty much the only face time he received. I’ll be sad if he is correct about her though since I am digging her as a character, but it does seem right that Spider-Man would be uneasy around Osborn’s former lackey.
Spidey: “Sorry I’m being a little more paranoid than usual, but what part of us being set up here do you guys not understand?”
Rating: Meh, art. Poor, action, character development, story and writing. 2/5 Avengers Assembled