[UPDATE: Now with scans!]
I’m going to be straight with you: it’s issues like this one that suck the fun out of comic book reviewing.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita, Jr.
Inkers: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterist: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, & Javier Rodriguez
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. OR AT LEAST THEY WOULD’VE BEEN***
As Sin’s mechs continue to lay waste on New York where the Avengers Tower fell, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, and the Protector, having been called back from their mission in Brazil, observe from afar the assault, not being able to do anything else. Suddenly, Sin herself shows up. As an impulse, Hawkeye shoots an arrow that goes through Sin’s neck, but it doesn’t do much except give away their positions. Sin launches an energy blast from her hammer, which Ms. Marvel tries to absorb and deflect back at her, to no avail. Just then, the New Avengers show up, with Iron Fist knocking down Sin while the rest (including Daredevil) attack the mechs. Their intervention gives the Protector enough time to hack into Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits that were in the tower, including an Iron Patriot suit that was still fully operational. The Iron Man suits are not enough to defeat Sin, but in the meantime the Protector hacks into her mechs, destroying them completely. The whole fight, however, was a distraction in order for Sin to find Heimdall’s observatory (which apparently was located at Avengers Tower), which she uses to escape. The heroes talk about using the observatory to take the battle to her, but then the story abruptally ends here. The oral history wraps up, with Spider-Man saying that joining the Avengers was the right decision, and Steve Rogers asking the interviewer to dedicate his book to Bucky Barnes.
The Good: Don’t let the cover fool you. This issue is hardly about Hawkeye and Spider-Woman’s love blossoming in the battle field or whatever nonsense that goes into soliciations nowadays. Despite that, it is a very nicely done cover, thanks to the team effort of Davis, Farmer, and Rodriguez. JRJR’s interior art is hit and miss. Some panels look really well done (such as the two-page spread of Blitzkrieg,USA or Iron Fist punching Sin), while others are just flat-out awful (Luke Cage looks horrible, and why are people missing pupils in their eyes?). I’ve said before that I enjoyed Chris Bachalo’s style over Romita Jr.’s, and that’s mainly because I know Bachalo will remain consistent throughout the issue.
There are some highlights when it comes to the actual plot. The most intriguing part comes from the fact that Stark was still keeping around that Iron Patriot armor for reasons that may actually turn up in the next storyline. And it was fun to see Sin go up against several empty Iron Man armors (and it was a nice touch to see the different versions over the years show up to fight).
The Bag (not a typo. Ask Sarcasmic): As you can probably tell by my tone of voice, the issue was a serious letdown. First of all, good luck trying to fit this story anywhere in the sequence of Feat Itself. I didn’t read the mini, so I don’t know if there’s a gap there that allows for the plot of this issue. An editor’s note would’ve been nice, for those of us who chose not to buy another event comic.
The plot structure is just awful. The worst part is how the story just ends. “We can’t let Sin get away with this! We’re taking the fight straight to her!” And then we cut away to way after the fact. “Yeah, we didn’t know how bad it was gonna get, but, boy, we sure are glad to be alive. Except for Bucky.” No one bothered to put a little note that says, “Wanna see how it all ends? Find out in Fear Itself #6 and 7. Available now.” Do they seriously assume I’m keeping up with all their books? Or am I in the wrong here? Maybe my review is not being fair. I’m not looking at the big picture or whatever.
Except that’s not at all how it should work. It’s bad enough when one story is spread out over several issues (and months), but when it skips over from book to book, and you need them all to actually understand the story, that’s shenanigans. If I gave my issue of Avengers #17 to a buddy, and he wanted to know what happened to the final battle and if it continues on to #18, I’d say “I don’t know.” No, #18 starts a new arc, and no, I don’t know where it continues.
I like how the New Avengers kinda just show up. At the risk of sounding redundant, it causes a lot of confusion having Wolverine and Spider-Man on two Avenger teams. It seems that they are mostly associated with the New Avengers anyway. Ms. Marvel, on the other hand, is a New Avenger and not an Old Avenger, yet she’s been prominently featured on this book. So whenever a new lineup change is announced, I just laugh because half of the Marvel U is just going to show up here anyway.
Friendly-Neighborhood Spider-Moment: Spidey saying that his decision to join the Avengers was the right one and that his time as a loner was him being “crazy cuckoo” is sure to cause some people rage. Also, someone forgot to tell Romita Jr. that Spidey is not supposed to have his Spider-sense at this point in time. Why is he even here? Didn’t he wimp out of the fight in one of the Fear Itself issues?
Verdict: I’m not mad at this issue. I’m disappointed in it. That always hurts so much more. 1 Webhead out of 5.
Final Thoughts: It’s been a year and a half since the fouth volume of the Avengers launched, and now we have the announcement of a new lineup. Let’s see: so far, we had the time-stream story that was pretty subpar by other people’s accounts; the Infinity Gems arc, which I covered and thought it was good, despite its many flaws; and finally, we had this mess of a “storyline.” The most disheartening part of all this is that we only got three arcs total before Marvel decided to “shake things up” again, and not one of them was a hit right out of the park, like it should always be with the Avengers.
~My Two Cents