Beep, beep, beeeeeep. That’s the sound of my interest in this storyline flatlining. Seems everything and everyone is dying in this comic. That is, everyone besides the one person who is supposed to be dying. Mockingbird continues to knock on death’s door as this plot is dragged out. At this point, I’d rather someone put her, and this arc, out of their misery so we can move on to a new New Avengers story. You know, one that actually focuses on the New Avengers.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #12
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Howard Chaykin & Mike Deodato
Color Art: Edgar Delgado & Rain Beredo
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: Hawkeye watches from behind an observation window as doctors operate on his ex-wife, Mockingbird. A handful of New Avengers look on with him and the leader of the Avengers tells them that he wants Superia, the woman responsible for H.A.M.M.E.R.’s recent act of aggression, arrested or killed before Mockingbird is out of surgery.
The rest of the New Avengers are visiting a police precinct, where a defiant agent of H.A.M.M.E.R. is being held in an interrogation room. Luke Cage pulls rank on the police officer and the New Avengers send Wolverine into the room with the terrorist. The ferocious mutant unsheathes a single claw and begins his intimidation tactics. Elsewhere, Superia confronts and attacks Victoria Hand. The Avengers liaison turns on Superia and tells her that she will need to listen to her and do exactly what Hand says if H.A.M.M.E.R. is to defeat the New Avengers.
Back in 1959, Nick Fury and his team of renegade Avengers are faced with a very angry looking Captain America. The interior of the castle was going up in flames when Fury, insulted by the imposter in front of him, sent half of his team off to find the Red Skull. The phony Captain America proved to be bullet-proof, and Fury was forced to fight him in hand-to-hand combat. Fury took advantage of the downed Captain America and cracked the butt of his gun over the back of the Captain’s head.
Outside the castle, the Red Skull fled with a briefcase clutched tightly to his chest. A Nazi soldier stopped the Red Skull for orders, but fell victim to a sniper shot intended for his leader, courtesy of Kraven. The big-game hunter is shocked that he missed his target, and the Red Skull continued to run for a submarine as his soldiers opened fire on Kraven. Sabretooth ran down the Skull, killed several Nazis in his path, and took several gunshots to his body. The rabid killer pounced on the Red Skull but took one more bullet, a friendly fire shot from his teammate Kraven. With Sabretooth down, the Red Skull was able to board his escape sub.
Before submerging, the Red Skull witnessed the counterfeit version of Captain America being tossed from a burning window. Nick Fury looked on as the super soldier crashed to the ground in a heap. Under water, Namora broke the window on the sub, fought and subdued the Skull, eventually dragging him to the surface.
Fury and the Avengers gathered around the captured Red Skull and his soldiers. They are now in possession of the Skull’s briefcase. Fury opened it, and the contents cast a glow on the Avengers surrounding it. Fury asked the Red Skull what he had done but the Nazi leader told him to go to hell. Sabretooth intervened and silenced the Red Skull permanently by decapitating him. An angered Fury yells at his insubordinate team member but Sabretooth replied by telling Fury to go to hell and that he took care of their problem.
The Heroic: There’s not a whole to like in this issue. The one consistent positive I saw in this story arc was Deodato’s art, but in this issue it’s so sparse that it can’t really balance the rest of the flaws. Deodato’s art even seems to lose some of its shine, though, as there’s too much focus on shadows. Everything from the faces to rooms comes off way too dark.
The story is not my favorite, but I am intrigued about what was in the briefcase the Red Skull was carrying. After seeing the Thor movie recently and witnessing the Cosmic Cube displayed in a similar briefcase at the end of the film, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is what the Red Skull possessed. The movie and the comic are not related though, so it could be something else entirely, possibly the Infinity Formula or some other device that could be used to save Mockingbird from certain death.
The Not-So-Heroic: Nothing could save the Red Skull from certain death. What did Nick Fury think was going to happen when he put together a team that consisted of Kraven and Sabretooth? These two are extremely violent characters and the violence is on full display once again, despite the comic receiving another “A” rating. And what exactly was the point of building a team consisting of anyone other than those two characters? It seems that Ulysses Bloodstone, Dominic Fortune and the Silver Sable have absolutely no purpose on this team.
In addition to the carnage Kraven and Sabretooth caused, we got to see what happened to the giant whale Namora used as a mode of transportation in the previous issue. Its carcass is lying in the background of several of the panels. This seems like a pretty tasteless move on the part of Bendis, as well as Namora, a character who should show a little bit more respect for the ocean world that she comes from.
Other issues with the characters aren’t just confined to the 1959 Avengers. After giving Victoria Hand a great moment of reflection in the last issue, she does a complete 180 and looks to be working with H.A.M.M.E.R. once again. I sincerely hope that this is just a ploy, as I would not like to see her character begin to flip flop back and forth, especially after earning Steve Roger’s trust.
Steve Rogers also put his trust in Hawkeye, who is leading the main team of Avengers. A leader of the Avengers should not let a personal vendetta get in the way of his leadership duties as Hawkeye did when he demanded that the New Avengers bring Superia in dead or alive. And is Mockingbird Hawkeye’s wife or not? Several times in the New Avengers they refer to Mockingbird as his wife, but then in the latest Avengers issue he’s putting the moves on Spider-Woman and Mockingbird is referred to as his ex-wife. I won’t even get into the fact that Mockingbird is all alive and honky-dory in the Avengers and Fear Itself comics since it seems apparent that Bendis doesn’t know the meaning of the word “continuity.”
The poor character development doesn’t end with the heroes, because Bendis even manages to make doctors and cops look bad in this issue. While operating on a dying superhero, the surgeon makes a crack about her dying because of how large the hole in her stomach is, and then worries about his reputation as a doctor if she dies. And I’m supposed to believe that a cop in the Marvel Universe is not aware of who some of the Avengers are and is even thinking about not letting them handle the investigation of the H.A.M.M.E.R. agent?
The most respectable bit of character development in this issue is Fury being offended that the Red Skull has an imposter Captain America, but that’s about all this issue has going for it.
Most Valuable Avenger: Wolverine was the only New Avenger to have a decent part in this issue. I can’t think of anyone else more capable of interrogating a bad guy than a guy with six adamantium-laced claws extending from his hands. Even though he’s gone soft in my book, and I doubt the lengths he’d go to get his information, that shouldn’t stop the H.A.M.M.E.R. agent from fearing for her safety.
Least Valuable Avenger: Pretty much everyone because they have no role whatsoever in this issue.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Moment: There is nothing friendly about this issue. There is way too much focus on the 1959 Avengers and I don’t see why Bendis feels the need to extend this storyline out to the five or six chapters he’ll most likely take in order to tie it all together. The heroes that most people are buying this comic to read about aren’t even featured much of the time.
Rating: Poor, action, art, story and writing; Bad, character development. 1/5 Avengers Assembled