One year! Hooray. Sunday marked my one year anniversary of my first review on the Crawlspace, so please pardon me a minute while I reflect on that. That’s pretty much longer than any relationship I have been in. According to Google, the Crawlspace overtook the Facebooks as my most visited site in 2011. I guess this means you guys like me… you really like me. Or I’m just fooling myself and you just don’t really care about me enough to ask Brad to throw me off the site. Anyway, I was hoping to get my 50th review up for the year, but I fell two reviews short so I guess I will need to settle with only 48 reviews in a year, which I think, is not half shabby. For serious though, thanks to everybody who tolerated me kicking around the site to share and discuss my opinions. /tear

The New Avengers, vol. 2 #20

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mike Deodato
Color Artist: 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, Daredevil.

Plot: The New Avengers arrive in Miami in time to witness Norman Osborn brief the press on his team of Avengers, a band of heroes who just saved the day. Luke Cage declares that Osborn is under arrest, but Osborn tells the hero that his team does not have the authority to make arrests. The New Avengers charge the Dark Avengers and an all-out battle ensues.

Cage has his sights set on Osborn, who stands defiantly behind his team. When Cage takes a swing at Osborn, the criminal catches the punch in his palm and then, to everyone’s surprise, Osborn effortlessly tosses Cage out of the fight. Wolverine is clobbered by Skaar and saved from a pouncing Gorgon by Spider-Man. Iron Fist attacks Skaar with a powerful chi-infused punch while the gathered crowd debates who the bad guys really are.

Dr. June Covington incapacitates Dr. Strange with her poisons but is knocked out by Daredevil’s baton. The battle is interrupted when the Avengers’ ship is brought crashing down by Superia. The New Avengers tend to the civilians around the crash site, but not everybody is appreciative of their help. Dr. Strange calls for the Avengers to fall back when they come under further attack. Suddenly, a tidal wave comes crashing in over the city skyline.

Osborn does not back away from the surging water and destruction. The illusion vanishes and the New Avengers are nowhere to be found. Dr. Strange’s teleportation spell places them far away, but not completely out of the reach of Osborn as they are confronted by the Thor-clone, Ragnarok.

*

Osborn’s dastardly plans finally get their first real test when his Dark Avengers are confronted by Luke Cage and the New Avengers. This issue doesn’t waste any time getting into the thick of the action either. The opening splash page of the New Avengers charging the New Dark Avengers was great. It reminded me of the opening scene of the X-Men animated show when the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants face off.

Deodato handles the battle scenes astoundingly well. He successfully manages to cram action for thirteen characters into the pages, and while not all of them get a lot of attention, the match-ups that he spotlighted are full of detail and movement. The scene with Cage charging Osborn was especially effective thanks to the movement lines that were added. Deodato brought a smile to my face when Skaar clobbered Wolverine. The blood splatter and the impact of the punch even made my own jaw hurt.

Other highlights to the action and art included Iron Fist’s Hulk-busting punch which sent Skaar flying; Dr. Covington’s crippling toxic attack against Dr. Strange; and the use of the concentric rings representing Daredevil’s radar sense.

The story has picked up with the action as well. I like how Cage took the lead and went straight for Osborn. It was nice that Cage referenced Osborn’s threat to his family’s safety when charging his opponent. This is going to be one of Bendis’ last stories before leaving the Avengers titles so it will be good for him to get the Osborn/Cage family drama wrapped up a bit more. Bendis looks to also be revisiting the idea of Jessica Jones struggling with her decision between motherhood and Avengers status. I’m interested to see what sort of situation Luke and Jessica are left in when Bendis departs the title.

The action was the main focus of the story and, thanks to the great art; the issue-long fight scene did a great job of carrying the minimal focus on character development. The ending of this issue was a great setup to the next comic. It’s successful as a cliffhanger because it’s not a cheap attempt at shock value, like shooting another hero with a stun gun, but this ending leaves the reader wanting more. The appearance of Ragnarok promises that the New Avengers won’t get a respite from the action any time soon and leaves me looking forward to the next issue.

*

Most Valuable Avenger: Dr. Strange. I like how Dr. Strange’s outfit reflects the street-level status of the rest of the heroes on this team. The duster and jeans that he wears is very different from, and looks a lot cooler than, the black and red outfit he wears in the Defenders comic. Aside from his sweet wardrobe, I liked how he was able to rally the Avengers to him, summon a large illusion of a tidal wave, and teleport his team out of danger after being poisoned by Dr. Covington.

Most Valuable Dark Avenger: Norman Osborn. Osborn was the most intimidating opponent in this issue, out of all of the dangerous men and women he surrounded himself with. He came across as calm and in charge during the whole battle. I liked how he stood his ground when Cage charged him, and then carelessly tossed him aside.

*

The one problem I had with the art this time out was the use of the tidal wave. I had a hard time making out what I was looking at the first time I read the issue. I couldn’t tell if it was water, or an explosion, or some sort of alien invasion. It helped that they explained what it was on the following page, but the full page spread of the wave, at first glance, came off a little hard to make out.

Luke Cage makes a poor choice in engaging Osborn and his Dark Avengers. In the eyes of the public this will come across as an unprovoked attack, and I’m sure Osborn will make sure to point that out in the future. I can’t blame Cage, since he knows Osborn is up to no good, but this move may come back to burn him in the end. I liked seeing some of the public blame and question the New Avengers already.

I’m still unsure why Skaar is so angry and willing to team up with these villains. He doesn’t seem to hold them in high regard. But I’m sure Bendis just wanted the opportunity to write the character. Bendis gets enough opportunity to write Spider-Man, so you would think he’d give the character some better quips when he gets the chance. Spidey’s joke about needing a new suit and the bad guys’ cheap knock-off costumes would have been better received if Spider-Man wasn’t producing himself a new costume every four months in his own title. Spidey’s “ain’t I a stinker” line was a bit too cliché for my tastes.

Wolverine’s line about not being able to win the fight without Luke Cage was a little misplaced in my opinion as well. I know Wolverine meant it in a respectful manner because he’s the leader, but I think a team with Dr. Strange, Ms. Marvel and a few other heavy hitters can operate effectively without a bullet-proof strong guy. And speaking of strong guys, where is the Thing in this story?

*

Least Valuable Avenger: Mockingbird. I am still not sure what the point of giving Mockingbird her new powers was. Aside from the one Fear Itself tie-in, she has not done much for the team. Mockingbird has been relegated to the role of Earth’s Mightiest Pilot, but can’t even defend the ship when Superia is sent to destroy it.

Least Valuable Dark Avenger: Trickshot. Aside from shooting his own teammates with a couple arrows, Trickshot was pretty much nonexistent here.

*

Luke Cage throws a face-altering punch at Norman Osborn, but Osborn catches Cage’s fist in the palm of his hand without flinching.

Spider-Man: “Uh, I know my Osborns pretty well… and he doesn’t do that.”

*

Rating: Great, action and art. Good, story. Meh, characterization and writing. 5/5

“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2

17 Responses to “The New Avengers, vol. 2 #20 – Review”

  1. #1 Sarcasmic says:

    A.) Didn’t Tanarus erase all memory of Thor in The Mighty Thor? Nicely done Bendis… Nicely Done…
    B.) Why is Trickshot here and not Hawkeye? What the hell is that crap?
    C.) Nice, you got images for your categories…
    D.) Five webheads, with a meh in your rating? Do explain Mr. Bradley
    E.) Maybe Bendis is being meta and reflecting on how much he dislikes the OMD Peter?
    F.) The Wolverine line bothered me too.

  2. #2 BD says:

    Congrats on the one year mark. I appreciate all the work you put into the reviews. I added the Venom variant cover to your review. In your text can you put five out of five webheads so folks know how many are possible. I like the idea of posting the web heads images. I used to do that when I was reviewing.

  3. #3 Iron Patriot says:

    Congrats Brian! You’ve been a fantastic reviewer,podcaster* and buddy.

    (*http://mixedmarvelarts.libsyn.com, for the curious)

  4. #4 madgoblin says:

    He’s the g**damn Green Goblin…Of course he does that. Goblin formula…super powers….hello?

    Yes, I’m biased.

  5. #5 Doc Folsome says:

    Congrats on the anniversary Brian, keep up the good work!

    Couple of thoughts on this one…

    I like this arc a lot, the idea of Osborn recreating the Avenger’s powers to use against them would have followed Secret Invasion perfectly. Especially since Osborn had the inside track on what the Skrulls were doing during the Invasion. My point, this story would be first rate if Dark Reign had NEVER happened. I appreciated aspects of DR, but it was too dilute, Osborn was everywhere and we all knew where he was headed (not to mention Siege sucked). This story is like a concentrated version of DR, with a simplified cast and a shorter timeframe…this could work if we all forget about DR for a few months…

    Intentional or not, Bendis really highlights a difference btn Luke Cage and Spider-Man as ‘heroes’. Cage is ready to rip off Osborn’s head for ‘threatening’ his child’s life whilst Spidey is cool with Osborn having ‘killed’ his daughter. I know we’re supposed to forget Baby May but, still…I guess cooler heads prevail in Spidey’s eyes.

    And June Covington getting the upper hand on Dr. Strange seemed really implausible to me given Strange’s power set and her ability to simply spew toxins. Strange can do some amazing things yet failed to keep himself the safe distance of two extra feet further from Covington…I don’t know why but that irked bothered me when I read this.

  6. #6 Sthenurus says:

    @Mad goblin.
    Im with u. Why is Spidey surprised Osborn can do that after all this years of trading blow? Ah Bendis, still destroying my favorite characters

  7. #7 Doc Folsome says:

    Considering Luke Cage attacked Osborn when he was just as prepared back in Pulse #5, and Cage flattened him like a pancake. Yet this time Osborn did not even budge while catching Cage’s fist mid-throw…I’d say its fairly safe to assume that Osborn had an upgrade. He would have been barely able to pull that off against Cage back when he had the IP armor, let alone in his suit and tie…

  8. #8 Brian Bradley says:

    @1 Sarcasmic… we’ll probably address some of your questions tomorrow cause I’m pretty sure this will be one of my comics I want to talk about. And again… “meh” simply means it’s ‘okay’… the ‘great’ balances out the ‘meh’ and averages out to ‘good’… fun with math!

    @2 BD… Thanks for the cover update. Didn’t see that there was a variant when I checked Marvel’s site. Do you know why they’re doing all the Venom variants though? I like that idea too… only problem is this first review being a 5/5 doesn’t help show off the craftmanship I put into creating that little scale bar.

    @3 Iron Patriot… Thanks for the kind words and promotion, friend-o

    @4-7… Thanks Doc, and I would be inclined to agree with you on the Cage/Osborn confrontation. You would know better than I would, but who has been the strongest opponent Osborn has faced down? I know he’s strong, but I wouldn’t think he’d be on the same level as Cage in a strength contest. I could be wrong though, both are strong as a result of experiments to their bodies so how different could they be?

  9. #9 Doc Folsome says:

    @Brian
    The Luke Cage example from Pulse #5 is probably the most relevant, but a more recent example would be from DR The List: The Avengers (also written by Bendis). Barton snuck into the Avengers Tower and when he confronted Osborn he (briefly) locked up with Osborn in what seemed to be a stale mate until Ares intervened. Osborn did not overpower Barton by any measure, and probably would have been in deep water if not for Ares. That, like the Pulse example, is an occasion where Osborn fought somebody hand-to-hand (that wasn’t Spidey :) ) without the IP armor. So, even in the eyes of Bendis, Osborn’s enhanced Goblin strength couldn’t account for this scene. Besides, as you pointed out in your review, Deodato included the movement lines to really stress just how quickly Cage came to a halt…

    Not that this matters tremendously, but Marvel Wiki has Cage, Osborn, and Spidey all at power level ‘4’ as far as ‘strength’ is concerned…If nothing else, Osborn should not have been able toss his ‘physical equal’ like a rag doll, the way he did Cage…

  10. #10 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    Osborn getting a hold on the DNA of several super-heroes is plotline from the old Avengers book, which would explain his power upgrade.

    It’s odd, that in that book Cap and crew are looking for Osborn under every rock. I guess it didn’t occur to them to look in Miami (or it could also be that this takes place earlier in the timeline).

    Also, Thanarus erased everyone’s memories of Thor? How? Why?

    Finally, congrats Brian on your one year as reviewer. I kinda forgot that I’ve been at this for a year as well.

  11. #11 Enigma_2099 says:

    @#4

    You beautiful bastard, you! *SMOOCH!*

    And as for Brian’s earlier comment before the review… you still here? ;)

  12. #12 MisterFear says:

    I don’t get why Spidey and Osborn seem so indifferent towards each other in these Bendis books. Those two are mortal enemies and in the current Avengers run and in the previous Siege they almost ignore each other! Norman was the first foe to learn his secret ID and vice versa, screwed up Harry’s life, killed (and banged) Gwen, caused MJ to miscarriage, masterminded the clone saga and kidnapped Aunt May at least twice. These guys should make a bee-line towards each other on the battlefield. When Osborn’s involved Spidey should at least be providing useful intel, if not outright leading the charge instead of making annoying jokes.

    It’s like seeing Lex Luthor sudddenly ignore Superman to focus on some new personal grudge match against the Blue Beetle or whatever. It simply doesn’t ring true.

  13. #13 Sthenurus says:

    @12. It’s Bendis. He never bothered about some little things like characterisation or continuity. He just cares about his pet project (spider-woman, Cage and his wife…)

  14. #14 spideytothemax says:

    I didn’t really get the Cage/Osborn thing either. Has Cage really become that powerful? Maybe if it had been the Thing or Colossus or someone of that level I would’ve expected that response. As it is I would have no problem with Spider-Man knocking Cage around for a bit if he was good and pissed off, and I’ve always thought of Osborn as being more physically powerful than Spidey. I’ll have to go back and read the issue, but that Hawkeye/Osborn encounter sounds like an extremely bad example of where Osborn should stand.

    @Doc Folsome – I’ve always thought that the Cage Baby would be a great excuse to reference Baby May in some ambiguous way, even if it had just been an unexplained glance between Peter and MJ back when they were all living in Avengers Tower and fawning over the newborn. This arc would be another great time to do something with it. Peter should know exactly what Cage is feeling at the moment. Not gonna happen though, unfortunately.

  15. #15 Doc Folsome says:

    @spideytothemax
    I don’t know what it will take to get me to stop griping about (the seemingly non-existence of) Baby May, but I’ll tell ya one thing it isn’t watching Luke Cage ferociously protect his child. I do appreciate this growing theme btn Osborn/Cage/baby going back to Osborn’s attack on pregnant Jessica, rescuing baby from Skrulls, and now this…but still, the creative team is missing out on a great opportunity to have Cage and Peter connect here. Another BND casualty…

    I don’t think anyone is saying Osborn couldn’t hold his own against the Spidey/Cap/Cage-types with simply the Goblin Formula, but he certainly couldn’t have tossed Cage the way he did without something new. He must have an Avengers Formula now :)

  16. #16 Brian Bradley says:

    RE: Cage vs Osborn… Interesting that Osborn, Cage and Peter are all on the same strength level. I always figured Luke was considered stronger for some reason. I should have checked the Marvelwiki instead of normal wiki. I like seeing all those Marvel charts of official character statistics and rankings. That’s part of the reason I loved the Overpower card game so much… i miss that game

    @10 Two-Bit… The Thor blind spot came as an aftereffect of Fear Itself. It explains how he died, but he’s replaced by some other character. It’s weird, I don’t know how to explain it, I’m not reading it. I just know that he’s in the preview images for AvX so it’s not like this will last for him.

    @12MisterFear.. I agree. I would prefer to see Peter and Norman face off but New Avengers is basically all about Luke Cage and his family so he’s going to be the main focus of the confrontation… so yeah, what sthenurus said.

  17. #17 spideytothemax says:

    @Doc Folsome – I read a really great fanfic a few years back that dealt with the aftermath of Osborn kidnapping the Cage Baby. It was basically exactly what I’d like to see in a book as far as Cage and Peter bonding over the kid issue. I wish I could remember where I read it.