Avengers #20 Review


Two-Bit’s Self-Deprecating Moment: Surely you know that you can hear many of your favorite Crawlspace personalities through the many Spider-Man podcasts around?  I’m in the process of catching up to the Crawlspace podcasts, featuring JR, Bertone, Berryman, Stella (formerly) and the man himself BD.   The earliest episodes had Kevin and Spideydude as regular hosts.  Speaking of Spideydude, he has his own podcast, the Clone Saga Chronicles, featuring Bertone, Donovan, and Gerard.  Fellow Crawlspace reviewers Brian Bradley, Nathaniel Collins, and Shaun Martineau have put together a brand new podcast called The Mixed Marvel Arts (I see what they did there). 

And as I listen to these guys, I can’t help but lament the fact that I’ve never been involved in a podcast session (hint, hint).

Nah, but you guys really don’t want to listen to me.  I’m way too bland.  I would just ruin it for everybody.

Now read this bland review and comment on my blandness.

Avengers #20

Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Artist:  Daniel Acuña
Letters:  VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art:  Daniel Acuña

The Avengers:  Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Steve Rogers), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Storm (Ororo T’Challa), Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), The Vision, The Protector (Noh-Varr), Red Hulk (Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross), Quake (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Daisy Johnson).

The Plot:  Norman Osborn has appeared before the Avengers and a crowd of reporters, telling the nation that he was detained without trial, depicted falsely as a lunatic, and that he promises to set things in order again.  Osborn turns out to be a hologram, and Red Hulk destroys it before Iron Man can triangulate Osborn’s location.  The whole event casts doubt on the Avengers, and the reporters bombard Captain America with more questions.

After that fiasco, a ticked-off Cap delegates orders to the new team: Quake is to go through the footage to find who placed the hologram.  Hawkeye and Spider-Woman are sent to Thunderbolt Mountain, where Osborn once led his Thunderbolt team.  Protector and Iron Man fly to Philadelphia to M.O.D.O.K.’s A.I.M. Base 9, since the holographic tech had A.I.M. tech signature.  Storm and Red Hulk snoop around OsCorp, hoping to find clues.  Cap, Vision, and Maria Hill are looking up Osborn’s old accomplices.

Every single search turns out to be a trap: Clint and Jessica run into a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who distracts them long enough for Hulked-out HYDRA agents to get the drop on them.  Ororo and Rulk are immobilized by Wasp-sized H.A.M.M.E.R. agents (likely using Pym particles to shrink).  Iron Man’s armor gets hacked and attacks the Protector.  Finally, Cap’s Quinjet is assaulted by a Giant Man look-alike.

The Good:  Last time, I mentioned that the Avengers title was beginning to turn into a political satire featuring superheroes, and there’s a little bit of that still, but thankfully it’s not much.  Yes, that is a good point.

This issue finally gets things moving.  I love it any time Cap begins to hand out orders.  There is a conversation between Madame Hydra and Osborn where she claims that Steve is a quitter, but clearly that is not the case.  I dare say the entire sequence was done to prove her wrong, and it’s my favorite moment of characterization in the issue.

Once again, I thought Acuña did an excellent job with the art duties.  It definitely is a colorful issue.  At the risk of repeating myself, I like the “weight” that his faces carry, like they are saying more than what is already printed on the page.  Now that the story actually has some action in it, I can see that he too handles this aspect well.  In particular, I liked how his Hulks look menacing.  I also appreciate that he made it possible for me to distinguish Maria Hill and Quake visually (something that JRJR couldn’t do back in issue #16, if I recall correctly).

There are some humorous events.  Osborn and Madame Hydra discussing her calamari-looking head-thing was amusing, and so was Storm confusing Red Hulk for Bruce Banner (I bet he gets that a lot, and I bet that gets him steamed every time, too).  As a Thunderbolt fan, the nod to Hawkeye once living with the Thunderbolts was appreciated.

Despite how slow the story seems to be going (as usual), I do like the setup for the following issue.  Every Avenger is in some sort of peril by the end of the issue, and I can’t wait to see how they get out of it.

The Bad:  Honestly, I can’t really fault the issue for anything.  The pacing was good.  The art was excellent.  There was action.  There was good dialogue and an intriguing cliffhanger.  Everybody was in character.  Politics was non-existent.

Nope.  There really isn’t a bad thing in this issue.  That is not to say it is perfect or deserves the highest of accolades, but when compared to previous efforts, Avengers #20 truly stands out as one of the best I’ve read from Bendis (compared to comics I’ve rated 5 out 5, however, is another thing entirely).  If only it wasn’t dragged down by the fact that it’s Part 3 of 6.

Verdict:  Avengers #20 is an issue that I can show to a friend and say, “Look.  This is pretty good, isn’t it?”  It doesn’t revolutionize comics or knocks it out of the park story-wise, but it gets the job done, namely, being entertaining.  4 Webheads out of 5.

Shameless Plug:  For more on the Two-Bit Specialist, follow him on Twitter and Facebook and check out the Two-Bit Special, his personal blog.

~My Two Cents

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