Number 5 is alive. And Norman Osborn is free. In Osborn’s quest to regain an Iron Patriot suit, he sends an iron giant up against the New Avengers. Do the heroes have what it takes to survive this deadly game of rock ’em sock ’em robots? Can they short circuit this latest Ultimo machine or will Norman Osborn and his bad robot succeed in the villain’s first major coup since his jail break? Read on to find out, and domo arigato in advance for any comments.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #17
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato & Will Conrad
Color Art: Rain Beredo
Letters & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
Variant Cover Art: John Tyler Christopher
The New Avengers: Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Thing, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones, Victoria Hand, Squirrel Girl.
Plot: A giant Ultimo robot is rampaging through the Stark Resilient Satellite Laboratories in Paramus, New Jersey. Iron Man is bobbing and weaving through the robot’s laser attacks when the New Avengers arrive on the scene to assist him. Despite Iron Man’s order to stand down, the Avengers engage the target and attack the robot in each of their own unique way. Ultimo is unfazed and releases an attack of his own, sending the heroes sprawling.
Iron Man informs the team that Ultimo has the ability to absorb the kinetic energy of their attacks and redirect it back at them. Dr. Strange casts the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak spell to bind the robot. Spider-Man and Iron Man talk about the origin and purpose of the attack while Wolverine jumps onto Ultimo’s chest. Iron Fist helps Wolverine topple the robot and Spider-Man gets a chance to evaluate the machine’s technology.
A mechanical, spider-like creature emerges from Ultimo and attacks Wolverine from behind. It slices the mutant’s neck and acquires a sample of his blood. The device containing the blood flies off and rockets away from the pursuing Ms. Marvel’s reach. Back at the laboratory, Wolverine breaks free from the machine and continues to slash Ultimo’s chest.
At an undisclosed facility, Norman Osborn and his lieutenants watch the events unfold on several screens. Madame Hydra expresses concern that the Avengers are involved this early in their plans and Norman tells her that she is free to leave if she likes. Osborn reminds the A.I.M. and HYDRA agents that they made a pact with H.A.M.M.E.R. and only together can they defeat the Avengers. The agent controlling the Ultimo robot informs Osborn that he has Wolverine. Osborn gives the order to extract the mutant’s genetic material. When the container flies off with the blood sample, the H.A.M.M.E.R.-controlled robot explodes in the Avengers’ faces.
Attractive! Nice Software: Norman hasn’t wasted any time since breaking out of jail to put his plans in motion. I like this storyline and I enjoy seeing Norman and H.A.M.M.E.R. as the main antagonists for the New Avengers. There is a lot of story potential between these two warring factions, and the Dark Avengers will add another layer to that. I prefer Norman as the Green Goblin, so I hope he eventually goes back to that role, but it’s nice to see him obsessed with obtaining a suit of Iron Man’s armor again for his Iron Patriot persona. Showing Norman’s personal grudge against Spider-Man when he saw him on the television screen was also a nice touch.
It was nice to see Deodato’s art again after seeing Neal Adams’ work on the 16.1 issue. The characters look realistic again and greatly detailed, as do the explosive action scenes. Deodato is not alone this time though, as he gets help from Will Conrad. The dual artist approach isn’t a detriment to the art since Conrad and Deodato work well together, unlike Deodato and Edgar Delgado in the previous 1959 Avengers storyline. One of my favorite artistic scenes in this issue was when the New Avengers attacked Ultimo at the same time and how each character was spotlighted in his or her own individual red box.
It’s good to see the New Avengers get the chance to unleash some powerful attacks again. After several issues in which the heroes get smacked around by the Revengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. agents, the New Avengers look like heroes once again, and get some licks in against Ultimo. Spider-Man’s attacks seemed a little out of place, though, I’m not sure how effective his webbing was against the metallic adversary. Wolverine was the one hero who looked the most comfortable in this scenario, since slashing through giant robots is a specialty of the X-Men.
Malfunction. Need Input: Wolverine’s stubborn behavior and rage proved to be his downfall yet again. By not listening to Iron Man’s order to fall back, he gave Norman the chance to acquire a sample of his valuable mutant DNA. I didn’t dislike that scene, or anything else about this issue for that matter. There were just one or two parts that kept the issue from being a great start to the Norman Osborn storyline. For example, the small apparatus that contained Wolverine’s blood that was able to fly fast enough to outpace Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man’s use of the word “nerdgasm.”
The main problem I had with this issue was with the cover and the introduction page. Daredevil is shown on the cover but he is excluded from the team recap. Bendis made it a point to add him to the team recently so I’d like to think he’d be important enough to actually be mentioned as a team member, especially over characters such as Victoria Hand and Squirrel Girl, both of whom are rarely seen. I hope we start seeing more of Daredevil in this comic.
Most Valuable Avenger: Dr. Strange. The Magic Avenger proved his worth to the team once again by being able to take down Ultimo with the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak. His ability to use magic is a great addition to the team, and Deodato excels at making the magic look powerful and mystical.
Least Valuable Avenger: Mockingbird. What was the point of giving Mockingbird all those extra powers if her only role was going to be as the team’s pilot? She hasn’t contributed anything to the team yet besides flying them around and relaying orders that Iron Man has already issued to the team. She still seems like a waste of character, even after her power up.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Moment: To Wolverine after Dr. Strange just took down Ultimo:
Spider-Man: “Hey, Wolvie! How many well-placed stabs does it take to get to the center of a giant robot?”
Rating: Good, art and story. Meh, action, characterization and writing. 4/5 Avengers Assembled