The New Avengers, vol. 2 #20 – Review


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