Or – “Have You Ever Felt Like You’re Missing The Point?”

nav10.jpg

I’ve been working hard to keep up with the flow of comics, and thought I had made some headway until this Wednesday. Struck about the head and shoulders with nearly a dozen books that I wanted to recap (including Mighty Avengers #2, Justice League of America #8, the Nightwing Annual and more), I realized that I was needlessly restricting myself to one book a day. With my pull list being the behemoth that it is, maybe a little extra effort is what we need to get things manageable. In an ideal world, I’d be able to review comics the week they come out, instead of two or three weeks later. In that world, however, I’d have a pony, a candy-apple-red Chrysler Imperial, and a harem of bellydancing women who adore me, led by Scarlett Johannsen who has recently become allergic to all types of fabric. Be that as it may, we’re going to give you TWO reviews today, and depending on what happens in April we may keep double-booking for a while. In the wake of Civil War, the landscape of the Marvel Universe is ineffably different, and the heroes in it changed forever. So how come it feels like “business as usual?”

nav1.jpgLast time, in New Avengers, the rogue squad led by Luke Cage rescued Maya Lopez from the clutches of The Hand, a mystic cadre of ninjas, now led by former Daredevil foe/girlfriend Elektra Natchios Supreme with guacamole. Calling it a save is somewhat overstating the case, as she’d already been killed and mystically resurrected by the time the team got there, but that’s hardly the point. Prior to THAT, the team had heard a rumor (from stinky, stinky liar Ms. Marvel) that Captain America was alive, and being held on The Raft until his trial. Power Man and his Amazing Friends couldn’t countenance this, and executed a rescue attempt that went awry when they were confronted with duplicity once again. It was all a trap, and Iron Man’s Mighty Avengers team (an infinitely more powerful force, on the surface of it) pinned them down… Avengers versus Avengers, with the world caught in the middle. When are Marvel’s heroes going to stop putting the smackdown on one another and actually FIGHT SOME CRIME?

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

In the present day, they face the Hand, and Spider-Man’s words trigger the flashback to “yesterday” when Luke’s team faced down Tony’s. “The war is OVER!” snaps Iron Man in his best Jack Webb impersonation. Cage, however, favors John Wayne, replying “The war is over when we SAY it’s over.” If Iron Man had been characterized as anything other than a manipulative bastard for the last couple of years, I might have some stake in this badinage, but Iron Man’s credibility is shot. Peter Parker agrees with me, chastising Iron Man for using his dead best friend as the bait in a trap (“This was dirty pool, man… I mean, wow!”) but suddenly realizes that I-Man is playing it even more unfair, as he tries a signature jump, but doesn’t get the response he expected…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Smug, satisfied Tony Stark is forced to deal with the thing he hates the most: magic. But “Miftana fantadada?” What the HELL? Why not just have him say “Bibbity bobbity boo?” For all Brian Bendis’ skill (and it IS skill) at creating ‘normal conversation’, he falls completely flat when forced to work with characters who aren’t ‘average.’ Every character should not have the same voice, and mystical incantations should not sound like the burbling of a 1 year old learning to talk. Yikes… What does the legendary spell “Miftana fantadada” actually do? If confronts the Mighty A’s with a great fear, Sentry sees an all-powerful Void, Wonder Man his dead brother the Grim Reaper, Ms. Marvel sees monsters, Ares an angry Zeus, Wasp an angry Yellowjacket, Black Widow a monstrous Crimson Dynamo… and Iron Man? His illusion is worst of all…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Colonel America! No, not really. But he obviously feels the guilt for setting up his best friend and creating a situation where Cap was so defenseless that a man who failed to kill him for SIXTY $&!&ING YEARS finally got in the last word. Jerk… I want to feel bad for him, I really do, but Marvel’s handling of the character makes me think he totally deserves this torture, and frankly, he deserves it on a long-term basis. The good Dr. Strange has teleported his people out of the line of fire, and back to the (seemingly abandoned) Sanctum Sanctorum (where Jessica Jones is, hilariously, reading her tiny baby the autobiography of Andy Kaufman) to regroup. In a really annoying piece of pacing, there’s either a time-jump off-panel, or somehow, Iron Man and company arrive there seconds after the teleportation beam. This irritates the hell out of me, because there’s no indication in the script, and the conversation about getting back seems to take only a few moments before a full phalanx of armed soldiers arrive with Avengers backup. Tony sees the “Coming soon: Starbucks” sign on the house, and asks for confirmation of the sale. There IS legal documentation on file that Strange sold the house TO the Starbucks corporation, but DESPITE THAT, Jack-Booted Thug Man feels justified in busting in.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Your lieutenant just TOLD you that it’s probably not a justifiable entry and you go bust in ANYWAY? Iron Man doesn’t respect the law any more than the renegade New Avengers do, he’s just in a better position to use it to his advantage. It’s just INFURIATING to see the things that he gets away with in the name of “the law.” The frickin’ FOURTH AMENDMENT says that everyone, even suspected criminals, has the right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures …” Since Stark has established that this property doesn’t even BELONG to Strange anymore, what’s the justification for busting in the door? The Black Widow saying “I hear a gunshot!” That’s an attempt to use the excuse of “exigent circumstances,” implying that they HAVE to break in to save a life or protect evidence. It’s a blatant fabrication and it’s an appalling piece of characterization from Natasha.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

It’s nice to see someone trump the Iron Dictator, even for just a second. The team is beyond Iron Man’s ability to scan, and the Mighties take off, leaving the New’s to their ‘dangerous activities,’ like raising a baby and saving lives. Of course, it’s just a slight change of venue, as Iron Man isn’t above using the knowledge of his former friends’ real identities against them (despite claims that this would NOT happen and would, in fact, be illegal under the Registration Act). He arrives the next morning (with the full force of Mighty Avengers) at the offices of the Rand Corporation, to meet with it’s CEO, Daniel Rand a.k.a. Rand-Kai a.k.a. The Immortal Iron Fist.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I love Jeryn (Danny’s lawyer) here. He’s completely aware of the illegality of what Iron Man is trying to do, and isn’t afraid in the least. It’s refreshing after the last few months of chicanery regarding the Registration Act and it’s ‘Patriot Act’ overtones. Iron Man starts to point out that Danny isn’t registers, and Jeryn counters that he IS registered, as a lethal weapon under the law. Iron Man tries to say that Iron Fist must be registered, but Jeryn again stops him cold, indicating that their appeal as to whether Danny’s abilities counts as a “power” is still pending. Stark is finally forced to pull his hole card…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

…which Jeryn immediately counters, WITH AUTHORITY. It’s an “In Your Face” moment that I truly enjoy, though I suspect it won’t be the last of this particular gambit. Tony is far too methodical and willing to bend the law for it to be this simple. As the Avengers leave, Dakota North arrives with a letter from Nelson & Murdock, the letter which Ronin/Echo wrote to Matt that we heard two issues ago, bringing us full circle. He assembles the team, and they discuss their options, but before they can act, Jericho Drumm starts a voodoo ceremony outside the building. Unless Brother Voodoo is about to take a HUUUGE jump up the mystical power charts, I don’t hold out much hope. Spider-Man quips, “Maybe we should just go to Japan, now?” and we cut back to the initial standoff with the Hand. And then, Luke Cage does the one thing I did NOT see coming…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“You can throw all the swords you got at me, you ain’t gonna make a dent in me.” That’s a nice piece of dialogue. What is up his puffy yellow silk sleeve (figuratively speaking)? We don’t know, and you’ll note that that’s our cliff-hanger. A lot was established, and there’s more interesting stuff coming, including either an elevation of or complete decimation of Brother Voodoo. I’m hoping for the former, even if it means he’s successful in breaking Strange’s spells.

I’ve tried not to savage the overall product, but this issue angered me, on two levels: first, I was aghast and infuriated at the actions of Iron Man and the Mighty Avengers (characters that I’m going to be reading in THEIR OWN BOOK, and who I don’t want to be tainted by this obnoxious outing). This is actually good, and was, I suspect, the writer’s intention. By placing Iron Man in this situation, the rationale is, we allow him to be the ‘villain’ of this piece while maintaining his heroic status in his own book… except we don’t get the second part. He breaks federal law, threatens to expose a man’s secrets, but only until HIS OWN secrets are in danger of exposure, and basically acts the jackass. Jeryn Hogarth got a nice “Hell, YEAH!” moment, which might have made me happier if Jeryn Hogarth were A MEMBER OF THE NEW AVENGERS. The second anger came from once again being dissatisfied with the art. After what I felt was a step forward last issue, and even with tighter inks (and more pupils drawn in), it feels like we’re back in “only Spider-Man and Wolverine are drawn well” territory, and I’m just tired of talking about it. It’s supposed to be gritty, street-level art to befit the down-and-dirty team of Avengers, but the stylistic elements overwhelm the layouts, and make it seem amateurish. Luke’s proposition to Elektra might have saved this issue, but it’s thrown as a hook to bring us back next time, and essentially, nothing much happens. ‘Dissapointed and irritated’ is not the way I expect a comic to make me feel. 1.5 stars.

15stars.jpg

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.

Previous post

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Next post

Omega Flight #1 (of 5)

4 Comments

  1. TomGrice
    April 22, 2007 at 10:19 am — Reply

    I think this review should be held up to show how two people can read the exact same thing and have wildly different views. I loved this issue, and while I won’t go into why in exhausting detail I think the fundamental difference in our views is that I despise Iron Man and enjoy hating him. I love to see him act like a fool and get his face rubbed in it! LOVE IT!!! The other “just doing our jobs” Avengers getting caught in the wash is very good. Serves them right for choosing security over freedom. And I did think Danny had the best line in his interaction with Iron Man in his “other than Captain America?” response to no one being hurt. I liked the art! I thought it was very kinetic and I don’t think only SpiderMan and Wolverine were drawn well. But I have heard from a variety of people that they don’t like the art so who knows…

  2. April 22, 2007 at 11:23 am — Reply

    I actually like an Issue where the NA get to Trash the MA and then legally deny that it ever happened in the mornign. That is very, very good to me.

  3. April 22, 2007 at 6:17 pm — Reply

    Well, Tom, I try to make the point that this is what *I* got out of the issue in question. I have found improvement in the art from issue #27, just not from last issue.

    You’re also right about Danny’s line being the best line of the issue, perhaps the best line of the entire Initiative thus far. Maybe Leinil will grow on me… but then, so would warts, under the correct circumstances.

  4. Daesim
    April 27, 2007 at 10:29 am — Reply

    I actually enjoyed this issue quite a bit, if only to for the brief moments where we finally got to see Iron Man taken down a peg or two. I honestly can’t say if I like the present characterization of Iron Man compared to how he was when I was growing up, but it’s obviously good for the book to be able to have a character that the readers can instantly react against. Iron Man is just….blah. Marvel just lets him get away with too much. I honestly hope the Hulk leaves a size twenty-six mudhole stomped in that pretty armor of his, when “World war Hulk” starts. After all, SOMETHING has to finally catch up to this guy, right?

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section