Or – “I Had A Pair Of Pants Show Their Seams This Quickly, And Demanded A Refund.”


On paper, New Avengers looks like a guaranteed hit, a no-brainer. Luke Cage getting respect. Iron Fist back at his best friend’s side in his hour of need. Spider-Man, at his lowest point, but no longer alone. Spider-Woman finding a group of people who ALSO don’t have anywhere else to go. Doctor Strange, once again the backbone of a team book. Wolverine doing what he does, at which he is the best. The mysterious masked Ronin, probably someone we know, and many of us love. And Mary Sue Echo, who “Metahumans Illustrated” called “One of America’s superhumans.” It’s been likened to a rock & roll supergroup, but it’s less Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and more like “Eddie Vedder fronting half the Doors at the hall of fame.” The basic premise here is that these Avengers, at the end of their Civil War-shortened rope, try to find their way in a world they never made, a classic underdog story. So why does it all feel so contrived?

I can give you one overwhelming reason why I’m not connecting to this book: Leinil Yu. His work is graphically experimental, and he’s one of those “artist’s artists,” one that the other nav1.jpgcomic guys adore. But, to expand my previous rock music metaphor, he’s Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at Monterey, to the complete silence of the audience. Forty years down the line, that moment is obviously a turning point of Jimi’s popularity, but I’m not certain that Yu is so much a Hendrix-esque visionary, playing ahead of his time. It feels more like he’s making it all up (including his anatomy) as he goes along. Maybe I’m just over-sensitive to being TOLD that this art is the next big thing, with the implication that I’m stupid or out of touch if I don’t like it. None of the flaws of last issues art (scratchiness, lack of pupils, ridiculous and/or impossible poses, and muddiness that buries the dramatic tension) have lessened this month, and many actually worsen, so that a possibly interesting piece of Bendis’ writing suffers in the telling. But, like they told me in Journalism 101: SHOW, don’t tell.


The composition is cluttered, the characters over-rendered, and, frankly, Iron Fist’s hinged Don Martin feet scare me. All too often I hear people saying “I don’t like this book/television show/internet meme” when what I think they mean is “I don’t get this book/television show/internet meme as I am not the target audience.” I feel like I am the target audience of New Avengers, but the awesome is just not filtering down to my particular wellspring. Leinil draws a pretty good Spider-Man, and an interesting Wolverine, but that’s it. And characters who don’t wear masks should have EYES, darnit! Yu’s work doesn’t appeal to me at all, to the point where it’s actually making me question why I’m reading this every month. For a man who owns the first 250 issues of the original Avengers, all of Volume III, and the previous 27 issues of this book, that is a telling statement. This issue picks up right after last, with the New Avengers phasing back into reality, having gathered Echo (the woman who originated the Ronin identity) from the grasp of The Hand. The ninja group nearly got the best of them last month, mostly due to being led by Elektra, Matt Murdock’s former ninja plot device girlfriend. Teleported across Tokyo by the Master of Mystic Arts, the team takes a moment to regroup, with Spider-Man & Woman hitting the rooftops for recon, while Doctor Strange tries a new way of dealing with the deaf… screaming.


Let’s for one moment set aside the lack of character voice in this cast (which contains notable abstract thinkers Iron Fist and Doctor Strange) and the question of whether Iron Fist would say “$#!+”, we have the issue of Spider-woman’s strategical maneuver. Jessica’s secret plan? Why, only to track down Kenuichio Harada, also known as X-Men villain The Silver Samurai. Now, this brings up two questions: How does she KNOW The Silver Samurai, and if she knows him, why doesn’t she know that Wolverine hates him with the fury of a thousand white-hot burning suns, and vice versa?


Jeez, get a room, whydoncha? The main thing this subplot seems to do (besides give us another testosterone Wolverine moment) is remove Silver Samurai from the list of possible men in the Ronin mask. While Silver Sam and Logan butt heads in a vaguely homoerotic way, we are treated to a flashback that answers Kenuichio’s question. Why are the New Avengers at his doorstep? Because, my friend, yesterday was a rough day, and everybody got more exercise than they should have, including random toughs with guns and misguided cops. On a shopping run to get milk for his new baby, Luke Cage encounters a thug trying to rob the grocery store. He stops the kid with a quick bonk on the head, but is immediately punished for his Good Samaritan nature, as the authorities (in the form of Barney Fife’s lost grandson) arrive.


“Damn. I can’t have anything nice.” Heh. Already a federal fugitive, Cage is mighty unhappy to find a contingent of SHIELD agents right outside the store, waiting for him to come out so they can arrest him. Luke acts quickly, cold-cocking an agent, and stealing his sky car for his daredevil escape. He returns to Bleecker Street, where the abode of Doctor Strange lies abandoned, soon to become a coffee franchise.


Faster than you can say “The password is swordfish”, the mental voice of Doctor Strange says “Shuma Gorath”, and Luke is teleported inside the mansion, which (and you knew this) isn’t destroyed at all. In fact, many of the anti-reg heroes have gathered here: Iron Fist, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke, his wife Jessica and their unnamed daughter. The discuss others who would be part of their cause, quickly assigning Captain America dead, Falcon missing, and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) sighted in Los Angeles. Suddenly, “Shuma-Gorath” rings out again, and Jessica appears among them. “Man, that’s weird,” she says of her distorted anatomy… or maybe it’s just the teleportation, I’m not sure. But Jessica has the best news of all (she thinks), spilled by one of the upper-echelon Stark flunkies…


“The Raft,” sez Jessica, site of the original formation of the New Avengers approximately half an hour ago, Marvel time. “If we get Captain America back,” quips Spider-Man, “we can call ourselves The Avengers again.” “We ARE The Avengers,” rumbles Luke in his best “thus it is written, and thus it must be spake” voice. Doctor Strange sends his astral form into the raft, following former SHIELD director Maria Hill into the complex, and seeing what looks like Cap’s body, restrained and drugged, but clearly alive. The team moves in to save their lost leader, but Wolverine smells something funny (Wolverine can smell what Strange can’t sense? How the hell does that work? Are all Marvel power–levels now based on sales, or what?) and they start to bolt, but of course, Iron Man’s just SOOO smart that he figured all this out…


Carol Danvers is a big stinky liar! And if you thought Yu’s Spider-Woman was ugly, get a load of his Black Widow, Wasp and Sentry. Good god, that’s unattractive… Also, Iron Man has no neck, and Aries’ helmet has hair growing out of it. The flashback to yesterday ends, and Harada and Logan are still posturing, yelling about “rights” and “property” and blah blah blah fishcakes, while Maya nearly dies from Hand brainwashing drugs. Wolverine suddenly smells something funny, but turns his back at the wrong moment, and gets nearly beheaded by the Silver Samurai. The Spider-Twins attack, then Ronin, then a good hard thump in the gut from Cage puts him down on his Silver Stomach, as Spider-Man’s spider-sense kicks in, and we see what Logan was distracted by.


Black ink shadows that are supposed to represent ninjas and a half-naked Greek chick! What year is it again, and why am I reading an Image “Bad Girl” comic? The story grinds to a cliffhanger there (really a dual cliffhanger, with the flashback, and don’t forget, the identity of whomever is in the Ronin suit probably is part of “yesterday’s” events as well), but the damage is done. The art has killed any sort of connection I might have felt to the story, and the interchangable dialogue feels like a room full of Brian Bendises trying to out-clever one another. The powers of both the Sorcerer Supreme and the Spectacular/Sensational/Amazing Peter Parker are punked out to Wolverine’s keen sense of smell, and Iron Fist talks like a street tough, rather than a child raised by monks in another dimension. Also, Stephen Strange’s manservant Wong, usually a kind and thoughtful soul, is acting like he’s the head cheerleader in a Lindsay Lohan movie, for no reason at all.

I freely admit it: I’m not getting this title. I don’t really care about this whole sideshow, I want to know about what the assembled team is going to do to avoid the Stark-led SHIELD juggernaut. I want to know what happened to Cap, who are the suspects to be in the Ronin suit, how these appearances jibe with Spidey and Wolvie’s own multiple titles, how and why Doc Strange made his decision to join up, and what Luke and Danny have planned to go up against the most powerful man in America. I think I could stand the plotline if the art weren’t so avant garde (that’s French for “gyah”), or if it seemed that this group had a whelk’s chance in a supernova of achieving anything other than their own tarp-wrap and unmarked grave ala Goliath. As it is, this issue annoys me more than entertaining, with the plot lurching forward with an unspoken “because I say it does” from the writer, and the art awkward and stilted. A 1 star effort for me, though your mileage may vary.


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Maximus Rift
    March 25, 2007 at 10:04 am — Reply

    Yet another reason to despise Wolverine and his fanbase.

  2. Steve
    March 25, 2007 at 4:06 pm — Reply

    Finally! Someone else calls NA for the artistic mess it is. You’re lucky too that no one’s showed up to explain to you why you’re stupid AND wrong to have that opinion. I’m thinking of dropping this title too and it’s entirely for all the glaring faults you listed in your review.

  3. March 25, 2007 at 5:52 pm — Reply

    Mmm… If anyone thinks I’m stupid for not liking Leinil’s art, then I’d have to say that they have far too much time on their hands and not enough critical faculties. And then I’d probably make funny faces at them behind their backs.

    Seriously, though, Marvel’s whole “Young Guns” marketing technique has left me cold, even when I like the artist in question, like Cheung on “Young Avengers,” or Simone Bianchi on Wolverine (a book I don’t buy, but occasionally read to see how they’re going to let him not kill Sabretooth this year.) I think this art is ill-suited for about any team book, but especially this one. I made the point last month, that a man with poses this stilted probably isn’t the best man to be drawing a book with Iron Fist, Elektra, and a horde of ninjas, much less Jessica Jones’ graceful gliding, Doctor Strange’s mystical contortions, or anyone with EYEBALLS.

  4. Brother129
    March 25, 2007 at 6:59 pm — Reply

    Allow me to offer a slightly dissenting opinion here. I loved the NA Luke Cage stand-alone issue. I think Yu’s artwork is better suited to fill-in or guest work. I think it was a mistake to let Finch off of this title. I think one of the major problems New Avengers presents is indicative to what has happened in the Marvel Universe: THE CONTINUITY HAS BEEN SHOT TO HELL. As a “youngster” I really dug how consistent characterization and events were from book to book. For example, I think Bendis writes a better Iron Man than the one featured in his own book. I don’t know if the current editorial staff needs to be reamed or if they need to grow a collective pair and stand up to writers with oversized egos. Marvel definitely needs to take a page from Infinite Crisis…there next major event needs to clean up the universe and straighten continuity and characterization. PLEASE. What do you guys think?

  5. March 25, 2007 at 7:05 pm — Reply

    I too found this issue extremely frenetic, and the art didn’t help much either. I really don’t want to see any more of Elektra or the Hand. Ohh big scary ninjas, when haven’t we seen them? I was under the impression that the ‘New Avengers’ would be underground picking away at Tony Stark and SHIELD. You raised a good point in that how does this story tie-in with other stand-alone titles. Like how does this even remotely tie in with The Immortal Iron-Fist? Anyway, those are my gripes …

  6. March 25, 2007 at 9:02 pm — Reply

    Brother129: Agreed. Marvel can either make continuity an issue or not, but they certainly can’t have it both ways. As for Leinil’s art, his Luke Cage is the only Avenger who doesn’t suffer, save for lacking eyeballs.

  7. Salieri
    March 26, 2007 at 1:53 am — Reply

    1) I have no complaints about Yu whatsoever, to me he’s the best sinceDezago or Romita Jr., it’s just my opinions & taste

    2) Is that…Morpheus and Death walking by Dr. Strange’s House? And if so, shouldn’t Morpheus be…like…dead?

  8. Salieri
    March 26, 2007 at 8:28 am — Reply

    Ugh…I meant McFarlane, not DeZago.

    Anyway, i also wanetd to emntion that inc otnrast to your staements in the previous issue’s review, Spider-Woman looks gorgeous. Much, much better.

  9. Josh
    March 26, 2007 at 11:00 am — Reply

    I liked Yu’s art better when he first did Wolverine with Warren Ellis and even when he was on the x-books. I still love Yu’s work, but he’s suffering form over rendering.

  10. March 26, 2007 at 12:03 pm — Reply

    Jessica DOES look better than last issue. She does NOT look better than when drawn by Cheung (or for that matter, by Romita or even Infantino. :)

  11. Maximus Rift
    March 26, 2007 at 2:25 pm — Reply

    I agree that Spiderwoman has improved, but Wasp, Black Widow and Sentry are a step back. They look like 3 Clint Eastwood clones. Also Electra looks like a bad transgender.

  12. Salieri
    March 27, 2007 at 7:03 am — Reply

    It might help to consider that all of the comparatively ‘ugly’ characters listed above (Sentry, Wasp, Black Widow, Electra) are meant to be ‘The Bad Guys’…and it just seems that Yu has used the same shadowing technique for the eyes, is all. Also, I like his design for Ares helmet better than Cho’s. Though I like ANYTHING of Yu’s better than Cho’s.

    Is it possible that the pupilessness is just a mistake on the part of the inker or colourist, and that should have been shaded?

  13. March 27, 2007 at 1:39 pm — Reply

    Generally, the job of the inker is to add shadow, form, and texture to the existing drawing. If the inker didn’t ink pupils, it’s a fair bet that they weren’t there to begin with.

    And it’s also important to remember that art is subjective. I don’t hold any grudge against Leinil, or his fans, nor do I think those who like him are wrong. I just don’t like his work, and feel like it’s scarring a book that could be so much better. Being able to draw one members well, and another fairly well doesn’t cut it in an eight member book, at least for me. Cho is suffering in “Mighty” as well, I think partly because this is his first high-profile “serious” gig, and he wants to be all-grown up, which drains some of the fun out of his art. But I will say that I prefer Cho’s Ares helmet. To each his own.

  14. Alex
    April 17, 2007 at 12:05 am — Reply

    Wow. Death and Morpheus? Is this another one of Marvel’s nods to DC/Vertigo?

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