Great news, gang! Apparently in February we get two, that’s right, TWO issues of Avengers for our reading pleasure! That’s just downright splendid, I feel like I’m gorging myself! Oh, my, indeed! I can’t tell you how much I anticipate next week when Avengers #23 comes out! I don’t know what to do with myself!
Seriously, this is just… too much!
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Renato Guedes
Inker: Jose Wilson Magalhaes
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Stuart Immonen & Marte Garcia
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 (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross), Jarvis, Quake (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Daisy Johnson)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
THE PLOT: At the White House, the President—who’s clearly Barack Obama, but he and his cabinet have their faces obscured to preserve the timelessness of the issue (as if anyone would go back to read this)—watches the broadcast of Norman Osborn at the Avengers Mansion and discusses the situation with his staff.
Last issue, Captain America was captured by H.A.M.M.E.R. He wakes up only to be mocked and knocked out again by Madame Hydra. Tony Stark finds himself in an energy field, with Drs. Monica Rappaccini and Carolina Washington proceeding to forcibly remove his Iron Man armour. Spider-Woman is shackled in a cell (unmasked but not naked, unlike last time), and Madame Hydra extends her another invitation to join her. A.I.M. scientists are trying to conduct experiments on a subdued Red Hulk by miniaturizing themselves and going into his brain through his ear, but apparently he can defend himself through some weird red wax…
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Quake threatens some dude (the one that placed the hologram at the Mansion) into revealing Osborn’s location. Finally, the Vision is calling reinforcements from the New Avengers, the FF, and the X-Men (as if the last two would help) and returns to the Mansion. Osborn is there, in the flesh—last place anyone would look, of course—brainwashing the media with his trash again. He easily disables the Vision and throws him against the door, claiming that it’s time for change and that he’s doing this for the people. The White House, still watching, thinks that it’s time to reach out to him.
THOUGHTS: Beware the Gorgon? I’m really getting tired of these fake covers. I should say, these covers that have absolutely nothing to do with the content of the issue. I had to do a little research to verify that Cap is actually fighting the Gorgon—who doesn’t feature into the issue at all (the Gorgon is actually in the New Avengers book right now, but even there he’s dressed up as Wolverine). It’s really a waste of Immonen’s talents, great as they are.
The Dark Room in the White House. Yet again, we get some more talk about how the Avengers get to get away with everything, with lines such as “the people…don’t care if [the bad guys] are given due process… They just want Captain America to punch them in the face and get them gone” and “We did put [Osborn] in prison for treason and insubordination. The kind of insubordination that Tony Stark has been guilty of fifty times over.” I apologize for harping on this point on pretty much every review now, but that’s exactly how I feel too, like Bendis wants to beat me over the head with it that the Avengers get free passes all the time. I DO get that the people mostly saying this are jerks like politicians and political commentators, but I don’t see the need to permeate the entire arc with it.
Something to Hail About. What I did find enjoyable, oddly enough, were the torture scenes. That sounds so wrong, so let me elaborate. I don’t know much about Madame Hydra, but she comes off as very bipolar. She’s both creepy and seductive. One moment she’s teasing Cap and the next she’s punching him. It’s a very wonderful scene, as she gets under Steve’s skin in just about every way. She beats him psychologically and physically. I really thought this was the best moment in the whole issue.
Next we got Dr. Washington and Stark. I almost forgot Washington kick-started this whole thing by providing Osborn with stolen superhero DNA, but she’s finally back in this issue. Bendis fleshes out her character a bit more here. Though she’s proud to defect to H.A.M.M.E.R., she acknowledges the technological advances that Stark has made and is disappointed about his lack of cooperation. Even though she goes through with the painful removal of his armour, she’s still seemingly sickened by her actions, contrasting with Rappaccini’s cold demeanor in that same panel. It’s pretty clear that she’s got a bigger role to play in this arc, so we’ll see.
Moving on, we get a short scene with Jessica speaking with Madame Hydra. It was very intriguing to see their interaction, and it’s my second best favorite in this issue. Previously, Bendis has explored her character as she continues to struggle to overcome her criminal past. Madame Hydra’s line “It’s never too late to embrace your destiny” shows that Hydra still holds some love for her daughter, making her surprisingly complex.
Hail H.A.M.M.E.R.? Hail, no! Let’s just brush past that weird Red Hulk bit. Quake’s part is the weakest in this issue, not just for characterization, but in the art department as well.
I haven’t talked about the inside art yet. It’s alright for the most part, but there are a couple of parts that bug me. First, Guedes uses that trick where he repeats panels when characters are having conversations. It happened once last issue, but I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I’m not sure if I should be making a big deal out of it now, but this is honestly the first time I’ve noticed that trick in a book I was reading, and it happens more than once. It comes off as lazy. That was a criticism I had from this art team last issue as well. Fully black panels and obscuring Obama’s face come off as lazy as well. Secondly, there’s one panel where Quake has this “derpy” look. It’s horrible. I can’t even tell what she was trying to do. I think she was trying to land a two-handed hit?
As we finish the issue, we see Vision as he confronts Osborn, which was all right. Nothing special there. Though Osborn ends his final speech with “Hail H.A.M.M.E.R.” Really? Saying “Hail anything” doesn’t scream American patriotism at all (maybe he should’ve said, “America. F— yeah!”). I wouldn’t think you can’t scream “Hail America” and get rousing cheers out of anybody. Ah, well.
VERDICT: There are better comics I can recommend than Avengers #22, but if you’re stubborn like me in completing the arc, you’ll find that this issue is “okay.” 2.5 Webheads out of 5.
Oh, and please excuse the extreme sarcasm at times during this review.
~My Two Cents