Hey reader. Feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted a review for you guys. There’s also been ten other reviews for comics or shows since my last one. I must be slowing down. I haven’t even had a chance to catch up on all those reviews, or my comics for that matter. I guess that’s the folly of having a day job with a hectic busy season. But I guess my busy days at the office aren’t the same as a busy day at the office for the New Avengers. A busy day for them involves lighting strikes to the face and falling to your death in the streets of Miami. That doesn’t sound fun. (Also, anybody wanna help me out by identifying the credits for this alternate cover?)
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #21
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Color Artist: Paul Mounts
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: Jessica Jones is assaulted by a disgruntled mob occupying the front yard of Avengers Mansion. Squirrel Girl calls in a horde of her rodent friends to help Jessica and her baby escape. The rest of the New Avengers are confronted by Ragnarok, the clone of Thor, atop a skyscraper. The heroes debate the identity of this imposter, but are interrupted when Ragnarok calls down a bolt of lightning. The building explodes, sending the heroes sprawling.
Wolverine lunges at Ragnarok and sinks both sets of adamantium claws into the attacker. The two engage in a midair battle as Wolverine slashes at his adversary while receiving vicious lightning-infused strikes from the fraudulent Thor. Beneath them, Spider-Man spins webs between buildings to save his teammates from falling to the streets below. Spidey uses a web-line to throw Luke Cage back up to the “not-Thor thing,” giving the very badly beaten Wolverine a respite from the battle.
Spider-Man catches a charred Wolverine, and Cage and Ragnarok crash through an office building. The clone knocks Cage back out of the building, making a new hole in the wall, and then sets his sights on Spider-Man. Spidey jumps out of the way when Ragnarok charges at him, and the arachnid Avenger snags Iron Fist with a webline. Spider-Man tosses Iron Fist at Ragnarok, telling the hero-for-hire to “Fist him!” The chi attack knocks Ragnarok out of commission.
At the scene of the New Avengers and Dark Avengers altercation, Norman Osborn orders his team to begin cleaning up and helping the civilians who need it. Osborn uses a strong hand to halt Trickshot from pursuing an attack on the New Avengers, explaining that the Dark Avengers look like the heroes, unjustly attacked after saving the city. Daredevil and the rest of the New Avengers convince Luke Cage of the same thing, and any further attack would continue to victimize Osborn and his team.
The New Avengers fly off in their jet, but not before dropping the defeated Ragnarok out of their plane at the feet of a smiling Osborn. The team returns to New York to find Avengers Mansion being seized by the federal government.
I got a lot of flack from my fellow reviewer, Shaun Martineau, for giving the last issue of New Avengers a 5/5. But I stand by my rating, because of the great action, beautiful art, and exciting story. And this issue continues that excellence. I’m enjoying this Dark Avengers arc and am looking forward to its final issues. It’s a good sign that Bendis is going to try to go out with a bang in his final year on the title.
Bendis looks to be wrapping up one of his story angles by having Jessica Jones walk out of Avengers Mansion. I, for one, am not sad to see her go. Squirrel Girl’s attack was another nice example of Bendis calling back to an earlier issue. The attack by the squirrels in this issue felt more natural because Bendis had already shown her using this tactic during the Fear Itself tie-ins.
The Dark Avengers story is enjoyable, maybe even more so than it was during the Dark Reign storyline. It’s definitely a lot better than the Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. story that is going on in the regular Avengers title. I like how Skaar understood and explained Osborn’s plan and how the Dark Avengers look like the heroes and victims in the two teams’ fight. Daredevil explaining the same thing to Luke Cage was a nice touch as well, since it showed off his alter ego’s experience as a lawyer.
The New Avengers do a great job of working together and their conversation in the beginning about the identity of Ragnarok was humorous. I liked that Daredevil was considerate enough to thank Spider-Man for catching him with the web. Luke Cage also did a fine job rescuing Wolverine from the beating of a lifetime.
Ragnarok gets the fighting started explosively and effectively when he blows up the building. The action just continues to grow from that point with more powerful lightning strikes, demolished windows and office furniture, and vicious, bloody claw attacks. Like last issue, the action is only made more dynamic by the fantastic art provided by Deodato and Mounds. There were three beautiful large spreads spotlighting highlights in the action: Luke Cage crashing into Ragnarok, Spider-Man evading a charging Ragnarok, and finally the devastating punch delivered by Iron Fist to end the battle.
Most Valuable Avenger: Co-MVA’s Spider-Man and Wolverine. It was tough to choose between these two characters. They took front and center for the majority of the issue and both served their role on the team perfectly. This is a perfect example of why these two characters are featured in this book.
Spider-Man did a great job of crowd control by saving his teammates from falling and returning them back to the fray. Wolverine was a more than effective tank, buying his teammates the crucial time to recover from the initial attack. As much as Wolverine gets on my nerves, it was really impressive to see him hang on to Thor by his cloak while stabbing him continuously, all while getting drilled in the face with lightning and hammer strikes.
Most Valuable Dark Avenger: Ragnarok, the main adversary of this book. One could make a case for Osborn, but Ragnarok really put the New Avengers through the ringer this time out.
My only problem with this story so far is the angry mob that has gathered on the Avenger’s front lawn. As Jessica Jones points out, there is a lot of misplaced anger by the civilians, and it seems a bit too close to political statements and references to real world events for me to enjoy. The federal government getting involved by the end is even more disappointing. All that said, Luke Cage and Ragnarok crashing through Miami office buildings doesn’t help the New Avengers win any fans, I’m sure.
Cage does do a great job of saving Wolverine, but he is not nearly as effective as a tank. Their battle takes place off panel for the most part, but doesn’t seem to last long. Cage got in at least one a good punch before being tossed back out though the windows of the office building.
There wasn’t a lot of dialogue, since Ragnarok remained silent throughout and the majority of the New Avengers dialogue was Wolverine growling or Spider-Man quipping as he saved his teammates. Spidey’s least successful line though was the ‘fist him’ order he gave to Iron Fist.
Least Valuable Avenger: The people and mob again. Again, not really Avengers, but Marvel had their “I Am an Avenger” campaign featuring normal people, and that’s what this mob consists of, so I’m counting it. But do these people honestly believe Captain America is to blame for their destroyed apartment during the evil Norse god’s attack on New York? Talk about ungrateful. And then someone in the crowd throws a bottle at a woman holding a baby? That’s pretty messed up. As Dr. Hibbert from the Simpsons would say: “We’ve given the word ‘mob’ a bad name.”
Least Valuable Dark Avenger: Gorgon. What is the point of this guy? He hasn’t done much so far, but his conversation with Madame Hydra a few issues back makes me think Bendis has something planned for him eventually. For now, he is just taking up space.
Spider-Man: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the all-new game show: Who Would Win in a Fight Between Spider-Man and a fake Thor?”