Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Daniel Acuña
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Renato Guedes
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: TWO WEEKS AGO. Norman Osborn, Madame Hydra, and Superia meet with Dr. Monica Rappaccini, A.I.M. Scientist Supreme. Osborn asks her what she’s got for him, and she suggests the Super-Adaptoid program. She later outfits him with the ability for his body to adapt to anyone’s powers via physical contact. Dr. Rapaccinni warns him about the side effects of this.
NOW. Red Hulk initiates the attack and punches Osborn, allowing him to adapt to his powers and become a Hulk himself. Storm uses the wind to blow him away temporarily, and Iron Man quickly dispatches all the Hand ninjas. At first, the Avengers try to use ranged attacks against Osborn, but he uses the Vision’s density control powers to become immune to them. They then try Plan B, which is overloading his body with several powers. Captain America and the New Avengers show up just in time, and when Osborn absorbs everyone’s powers, his mind and body become mush.
The Avengers apprehend Dr. Carolina Washington and 3,300 H.A.M.M.E.R. and A.I.M. members. At the White House, the President meets with Cap and compels him to do damage control on the Avengers’ image. When he asks about Madame Hydra, Cap reveals she’s still at large with a small conclave of followers and the secrets of the superhero community. She’s seen last with a rather large group of H.Y.D.R.A. soldiers (including Hulks and Giant Men), making a speech on how Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. are dead, but their failures will help H.Y.D.R.A. rise again.
THOUGHTS: With this being my last Avengers review, I sat on my desk, reading and re-reading the issue and staring at my computer screen for several hours, unsure of what direction to take with this review. I wanted it to be memorable in some way, whether it was in its structure or writing style. Several things popped in my mind that I wanted to touch upon, and I tried to make up my mind as to what warranted the most emphasis or just a passing mention.
At some point, it dawned on me that I was probably putting more effort into this review than Bendis did writing the comic book.
Oh, snap! But in all seriousness, Avengers #24 did feel to me like a rushed ending, which is amazing considering how drawn-out the storyline turned out to be. But more on that in a bit.
One of the first things the reader will notice is Norman Osborn’s internal monologue throughout the issue (depicted in purple narration boxes—green would’ve been more appropriate, in my opinion, but purple works too). With him being the central antagonist and the driving force behind the events here and in New Avengers, I thought it was a nice touch to get an insight into his psyche as he faces the Avengers. It’s egotistic, manipulative, and dramatic, all attributes Osborn is known for, but I can’t help but feel it was also a little… generic. As in, you could have attributed the words to any cerebral villain and it would’ve worked just as well.
In fact, that’s a pretty apt description of Osborn throughout the arc. He was a generic bad guy overall. He could’ve been any other villainous character and worked just as well, but Osborn is popular and has a decades-old history, which then gets brushed aside. I know willfully ignoring established continuity (sometimes even his own) is a common criticism of anything Bendis writes, but it really would’ve gone a long way to get some specific insight into Osborn’s mind. His long history with Spider-Man is a rich well from which to draw some good material.
Take the Venom ongoing, for instance. In the few issues I’ve read that weren’t “point issues”, Flash Thompson’s narration is character-specific, whether it’s a football reference (“Hail Mary”), his war background, or his personal history with Betty Brant or alcoholism. I never got the same sense from Osborn’s narration. If you read it without any context, you wouldn’t be able to say, “That’s Osborn, right there.”
Let’s move on. I mentioned earlier that somehow the issue felt rushed, despite the fact that it’s Part 7 of 7. This comes from several things that just appear out of nowhere. First of all, the reveal of the Super-Adaptoid suit as Osborn’s ace-in-the-hole is a little ham-fisted. The dialogue very cleverly disguises the fact that no one (not even Bendis, apparently) knows anything about the Super-Adaptoid other than how it works—and how it fails. A quick Wikipedia search reveals that the technology was originally used on an android to fight the Avengers, so there is a connection. Too bad it gets ignored, like always.
Then we have the final battle. So far, all the Avengers had been accounted for except for Noh-Varr (and Maria Hill, but I think H.A.M.M.E.R.—and Bendis—forgot all about her). He was last seen being taken away unconscious by a hacked Iron Man. All of a sudden, he shows up, knows perfectly well what’s going on, and comes into contact with Osborn to mess up with DNA. What happened to him in between issues #21 and #24 is never shown. Worse is when the New Avengers show up with Captain America—Captain America who, last issue, was still handcuffed and watching Madame Hydra and a bunch of Hulks destroy the military. Now my guess here is that stuff happened in New Avengers #23 that freed Cap and got the New Avengers on their way to save the day, but, again, I’m just assuming now. That’s terrible story-telling. There isn’t any type of acknowledgement of those events in the dialogue or even an editor’s note:
“Gee, New Avengers! Thanks for saving me from Madame Hydra and those Hulks.”*
*See New Avengers #23 – Cantankerous Aaron 😉
I mean, is that too much to ask? It’s kinda arrogant for Bendis or Marvel to expect me to keep up with the other book when this is the only thing I’m reading. I don’t even know if New Avengers #23 actually deals with this, because if so, it means stuff happened off-panel without any reference to it, and that’s even worse.
Regardless, the New Avengers just show up, touch Osborn, and he falls apart. While it is rather humorous, the whole sequence is weak. Earlier in the story, Dr. Rappaccini warns Osborn to be careful not to take on too much power. That wasn’t foreshadowing. That was straight-up telling the reader exactly what’s going to happen in the next 10 pages. There was no surprise or suspense at all. What a disappointing ending. Bottom line, Osborn falls into a coma, and his body’s current condition is left to our imagination (and the next artist’s).
A big deal was made of Dr. Carolina Washington several times, only for her not to play any kind of role in the end. She just wakes up (she was already conscious last issue, so I don’t know what happened here) to find that Osborn had lost, and she’s apprehended. Woo. Hoo.
The epilogue was just filler. It’s Cap taking orders from Obama (who’s been obscured yet again to preserve the “timelessness” of the issue) to “make nice with the people.” Whatever. I’m not going into that tired tirade again. The repercussions of this story, however, is probably the best thing to come out of it, with H.Y.D.R.A. still in possession of the stolen DNA of several superheroes.
I almost forgot to mention the Avengers themselves, but the issue is so centered around Osborn that they don’t really do much except fight. Iron Man does get a cool moment where he easily eliminates all the Hand ninjas, as he should.
The art is the same as always, which is good. Acuña continues to draw awesome facial expressions, and his colors are vibrant and rich.
Finally, Spider-Man DOES show up here. He gets one full panel and the following memorable exchange with Osborn, which speak VOLUMES of their long-history together:
SPIDER-MAN: Hey, Norman. It’s me! You remember me from that thing that time?
Oh, yeah, I forgot Norman doesn’t say anything.
ARC ANALYSIS: I’ve already gone on for pretty long, but I wanted to examine briefly the arc. Avengers #18 came out back in October 2011. Fear Itself had just ended. We were entering this “Shattered Heroes” phase that no one cared about and quietly disappeared. The characters were still reeling in from the deaths of Thor and Bucky (both who have now been shown to be alive). Dr. Washington was made to be a key character with ideals that harked back to Civil War, and in the end, it didn’t matter. What’s been six months and seven parts actually takes place in less than a week’s time. That’s the problem with storylines that take too long: things change so quickly in real time (and even Marvel time) that you forget the original frame of mind of the characters. I mean, Ben Grimm was still grieving Johnny Storm’s death (and look how that turned out). A lot of the things touched upon in the first two issues are kinda dropped as the story went along. I wish, oh do I wish, that the plotting had been done better.
VERDICT: I think I’ve said enough. 1.5 Webheads out of 5.
ARC VERDICT: 3 Webheads out of 5, but I should tell you, unless you get the trade as an April Fool’s joke, just ignore it.
There. It’s over.
~My Two Cents