Tell me, my friend, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? I have. I’ve also challenged the devil to a fiddling contest and won. I’ve thrown back a couple of drinks with the robot devil in the year 3000 and once attended the devil’s birthday party in the town of South Park, Colorado. You know the famous daredevil, Evel Knievel? Yeah, I once road in a side car during one of his stunts. The game series, Devil May Cry? That I don’t care for because I hate Dante and anybody who plays as him in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Sorry if I’ve offended any of you good God-fearing readers out there, but that’s just the sort of devil may care attitude I possess.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #16
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Color Art: Rain Beredo
Letters & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
Variant Cover: John Romita, Jr.
The New Avengers: Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Thing, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones, Victoria Hand, Squirrel Girl.
Plot: The Avengers continue their oral history concerning the events that transpired during the Serpent’s fearful attack on mankind. Hawkeye begins by talking about the public’s opinion of what it means to be an Avenger and who is worthy of the prestigious membership. The Avengers jokingly take turns questioning the merit of their teammates by calling each other ‘a public menace,’ ‘crazy, ninja mutant,’ or a ‘circus boy with a criminal record.’ Hawkeye then says someone like Daredevil, who may not think of himself as Avenger-material, is exactly the type of hero that deserves the distinction.
During the invasion of New York City, Daredevil is spurned into action when his radar senses are triggered by the Serpents’ Nazi war machines flying overhead. The Man Without Fear races towards the chaos and takes down a lone battlemech. The hero is then surrounded by more of the tanks. Daredevil bounces between attacks on his adversaries, getting them to shoot at one another, but an explosion tosses him into a wall. The crimson-clad vigilante reappears, equipped with a scavenged Gatling gun, and takes down the tanks. Daredevil senses Avengers Tower collapsing across the city.
Back in Avengers Mansion, Squirrel Girl is holding Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter, Danielle, as the house comes under attack. Suddenly there is a pause in the Nazi war machine’s assault on the mansion and someone knocks on the front door. A friendly voice comes from the outside and tells Squirrel Girl to step away from the entrance. An explosion blows the door off of its hinges and a battle-ravaged Daredevil walks into the foyer. The blind hero senses a bunker in the basement of the mansion and points Squirrel Girl and the baby in that direction.
Three weeks after the incursion on New York, Matt Murdock is sitting in his law office. He senses a familiar presence on the rooftop of his building and suits up in his Daredevil garb. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones meet the savior of their child and offer him a gift – membership to Luke’s team of New Avengers. In the end, a return to the oral history has the Avengers praise their teammates as worthy. “A true master and protector of the mystic arts” such as Dr. Strange, “an unbreakable urban warrior” like Luke Cage, and Daredevil finishes the thought with “a swashbuckling ninja who can’t say no to a friend.”
Speak of the devil: I like Daredevil as a character and I am excited to see him participate on this team. With team members such as Luke Cage, Spider-Man and Iron Fist, the New Avengers are more of a street-level team and that’s a cool concept in my book. Despite being a private, lone vigilante, Daredevil has a history of teaming up with some of these guys and he should make some good contributions to the team.
Bendis had a four-year critically-acclaimed run on the main Daredevil title, and wanted to use him when the New Avengers originally formed, so I’m excited to see how he finally uses him in this title. It’s also nice to see that Daredevil’s current storylines are being referenced. I appreciate Bendis making references to the controversial events that transpired in the recent Daredevil-focused Shadowland story. I have been enjoying the new volume of Daredevil comics so far and like how Bendis brought up Daredevil’s strained relationship with Captain America.
Between the devil and the deep blue sea: The toppling of Avengers Tower has been a consistent scene in the past three Fear Itself tie-ins, including this one. I like how they are using that scene to tie these events together and to show how a few of the differing Avengers react to it. However, at the end of the issue they show the New York City skyline three weeks after the invasion. With all the destruction that took place in the city during Fear Itself, I find it hard to believe that the only building that would have fallen would have been Avengers Tower and that everything would look fine that soon after the invasion. I also find it funny that Daredevil has to ask how everything turned out with all that “Nazi stuff.” Where was he during all this time?
As far as the action goes, I enjoyed seeing Daredevil bouncing around between all the Nazi tanks and using their weapons against one another. That’s smart thinking by a hero who is not as powered up as the other characters. My only concern was that Daredevil is just a man with heightened senses and as far as I know isn’t super strong or durable, but somehow he had no problem punching through the windows of the machines. He also takes a lot of beatings such as being flung into a building by an explosion. But he is a comic book superhero so he’s allowed a little leeway from time to time.
The devil is in the details: Deodato may very well be my favorite comic book artist right now. He takes care to add an abundance of detail to not just his characters, but also to the background of every scene, whether it’s explosions, debris or the buildings. Beredo also does a great job of coloring the pages to provide even more depth. Skin tones and the costumes use several colors which gives them a realistic and three-dimensional look. Some other great examples of Deodato’s detail can be found in the use of Daredevil’s radar sense and the brail on Daredevil’s Avengers card.
Every page has a unique layout, which makes it awesome and exciting to turn every page. This can work against Deodato, however, since sometimes the flow of the pages can be a little tricky to follow. This would make converting the pages to a digital format a little tougher, but since I prefer the actual hard copy of a comic, it wouldn’t bother me.
Giving the devil his due: I have not been a fan of the interview angle Bendis has used throughout these Avenger Fear Itself tie-ins, but I feel it works nicely in this issue. I found it humorous when Hawkeye commented on how the heroes, with the exception of Thor, go online to see how the public views them, much like real-life celebrities do. I also liked how the different Avengers playfully described their teammates who appeared in the following panels. The only thing I didn’t understand was why members of the main team of Avengers were used in a New Avengers comic.
Bendis’ main problem in this issue is with how much he loves writing dialogue. The best example of this wordiness was during Jessica Jones’ interview. When talking about Daredevil she says to herself “I almost used his real name.” That didn’t seem necessary, nor was her description of Squirrel Girl: “Doreen, our nanny, our super-powered nanny.” But hey, maybe Jessica Jones just likes to talk and that’s good characterization on Bendis’ part.
Rating: Good, art, characterization and story. Meh, action, and writing. 4/5 Avengers Assembled