Or – “Somebody, Somewhere, Owes Daniel Rand A Rather Substantial Refund…”

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First off, I’d like to apologize for the lateness of this recap, and for the lack of the promised Brainiac 5 Hero History this weekend. Real life got the better of me as a weekend camping trip, a sprained wrist for my wife and a snafu with the State of Kansas combined to push Brainy back a week, but the reason that this is going up later than usual is simple, not to mention incredibly cute and preternaturally verbal for her age. My daughter’s babysitter has taken her vacation this week, so my normal schedule (which ain’t exactly clockwork anyway) has been completely subsumed. On the plus side, ‘Ratatouille’ was a nice diversion, and I don’t spend nearly enough time nearly plastic playhouses surrounded by screaming toddlers. But enough with that, we’ve got the follow up to the Internet-cracking reveal of last issue to check up on, and suddenly New Avengers is cookin’ with gas…

Previously, on New Avengers: After The Scarlet Witch lost her mind and nearly destroyed the world, The Avengers broke up. Months later, a super-villain attack frees most of the villains trapped in The Raft, a super-powered Alcatraz, and a random grouping of strangers became the New Avengers. Roughly ten minutes later, Scarlet Witch altered reality, the team was attacked by Hydra, there seemed to be a mole in SHIELD, Nick Fury sentseveral heroes into Latveria in a “Secret War,” (Well, actually, that happened earlier, it was just phenomenally late) Nitro killed the New Warriors, Iron Man went NAv1.jpgcompletely security-happy, and Captain America went underground figuratively before ending up SIX FEET under ground in a very literal sense. All these events caused the world to spiral out of control for eight of the Marvel Universe’s finest, and Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Doctor Strange and a new Ronin (who was the OLD Hawkeye) went to Japan to save Mary Sue Echo, and literally tripped over what may be the biggest secret ever: Elektra, who had recently gone through MASSIVE changes, wasn’t Elektra at all. She was a Skrull, a member of a shape-shifting alien race who have tried to take over the Earth more often than I’ve had a hot meal (and trust me, folks, we’re moving some damn hamburgers with that analogy.) Now, faced with the possibility that ANYONE could be a Skrull, and the disturbing fact that Skrullektra succesfully tricked Iron Man’s sensors, Doctor Strange’s magic, Wolverine’s schnozz, and Spider-Man’s keen eye for a girl in a loincloth, the New Avengers don’t know where to turn, or even if they can trust one ANOTHER! The plane ride home is quieter than a whore in church until, characteristically, Peter Parker has to speak… Asking why nobody is talking, Pete is answered by Big Papa Logan, the party-member with the highest wisdom score. “Nobody is talking because no one trusts each other anymore… Because any one of US could be a Skrull.” Spider-Man replies that HE’S not one, but Logan reminds him that that’s exactly what a Skrull would say.

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Logan points out that they’re ALL pretty suspect, in terms of behavior. Hawkeye/Ronin just magically came back from the dead after a long absence, Jessica/Spider-Woman belongs to every spy agency from L.A.S.E.R. to T.H.R.U.S.H. and betrayed all of them, Echo is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a tortilla and served with complimentary salsa, Pete Parker just overrode two decades of secret identity protection to unmask on national television, Luke went from Mack Daddy of 42nd street to realdaddy and leader of a premiere superteam, Iron Fist has long been estranged from his best friend, but now is conveniently at his side again AND suddenly has a plane, (“I didn’t all of a sudden GET a plane,” sulks Fist. Heh.) Doc Strange has been MIA and has miraculously joined up with the losing side of a war he famously wanted no part of. When challenged, he even points out his OWN flaws, noting that suddenly he’s “everywhere, and all of a sudden knows exactly who he is.” Luke actually smiles at this diatribe, pointing out that he called this, that he swore up and down that SOMEBODYwas behind all of their tribulations (His name’s Quesada, Luke, and he’s in the Manhattan phone book!) while Spider-Woman and Wolverine angrily spar over what to do next.

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That is the first time that artist Leinil Yu has drawn Spider-Woman even vaguely attractive, but I’m still incredibly creeped out by the red and swollen edges of her eyelids in that last panel. Jessie needs to invest in some Visine, I ‘spect. Peter thinks that they should take the proof to the media, but Jessica rips a hole in this theory by pointing out that the media has been mocking aliens for DECADES, while everyone on the plane KNOWS they exist. Thanos. Starfox. The H’ylthri. Heck, even the Dormammu and everyone from K’un Lun are technically alien. Hawkeye thinks that everyone involved with the Superhuman Registration Act is a Skrull, but Jessica reminds them of an unpleasant truth: If Herr Gruppenfuhrer Stark is a Skrull, then the other side ALREADY KNOWS that the New Avengers have the evidence. Iron Fist asks what the Skrulls actually want…

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It’s a nice touch that Clint Barton is the go-to guy for Skrull information, seeing as how he’s the longest tenured Avenger present (in fact, he’s the only one to do an ACTIVE stint in the old-school Avengers, as well as a long-running chairman) and was present (I think) during the mission in which the Skrull homeworld was destroyed. The weather outside gets worse and worse, as the team continues to argue, and Hawkeye’s words sink in. “Well… I’m freaking out,” replies Spider-Man. Iron Fist reports that they need to change their plans, as something bad is happening up ahead. (Is it World War Hulk? Or something ELSE?)

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Either Danny buys cheap planes, or there’s a Skrull hiding between panels here. The plane COULD have been tampered with in Japan, it could have been futzed with from a distance with technology, but there’s a more disturbing possibility. There may be a Skrull IN THE PLANE. Danny’s Learject abruptly loses all power, and the man with the Iron Fist tries desperately to keep the crate afloat… “WE’RE GOING DOWN!” he yells to his team-mates. “DOCTOR, CAN YOU MAKE THAT NOT HAPPEN??” I love that line. Everyone panics, while Danny continues to struggle with the dead weight of the jet…

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Wolverine and Spider-Woman are still at each other’s throats, (making me wonder which of them is the Skrull) and he finally wins the “Fly! NO! FLY! NO!!!” argument by chucking her OUT of the plane. As Doctor Strange desperately tries to craft a spell (and what the heck is up with “My cloak won’t work under these conditions”? His cape has flown in worse situations, even in alternate dimensions… Why wouldn’t it work now?) and Danny prays for a golf course, or even a long stretch of open highway. Spider-Man, always a cool player under pressure, climbs out of the cabin to try and help out with the landing…

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That right there is why Peter is considered the “Gold Standard” of heroes in the Marvel U, kids. Iron Fist miraculously manages to aim his new winged brick at a golf course, and the entire team straps in for a bumpy ride. The webbing helps greatly, breaking the impact as the nose of the plane caroms off the green, bouncing up into the air again. As the tail breaks loose, Avengers bounce off the interior of the jet, and Wolverine nearly decapitates Doctor Strange with his… Well, his entire body, actually. As the wreckage slowly settles to a stop, we see Echo struggling to rise, and Iron Fist slumped over the controls. As a shell-shocked Spider-Woman lands, a piece of detritus catches her eye: the Skrull body, wrapped in canvas, thrown clear of the wreckage. As she moves towards it, Wolverine climbs out of the plane, his skin growing back on, and rushes her. “Don’t do it,” he warns her…

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After falling ten thousand feet, and almost getting cut in half by the crash, Logan isn’t up to facing her Venom bursts, and Spider-Woman makes quick work of him. It’s a strange moment, (and I expect the Wolverine fans to complain that he should have been toughter, but he just fell out of the SKY, folks, he’s not as his best) again making me wonder if she’s a Skrull, if he is, if NOBODY is and they’re just trying to swerve us again… Either way, Jessica determinedly picks up the body, and decides to fulfill her original plan: Find Tony Stark.

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Hmm. Yu managed to draw a pretty attractive female backside, there, didn’t he? Given how much I’ve disliked his females since he took over the book, having two separate instances where Spider-Woman looks good is pretty awesome. To try and balance the last five months worth of complaints I’ve been lobbing at Leinil’s art, I’ll say this for him: He draws a wonderful airplane, and the cinematics of the crash (which were far too big for me to scan without ruining) were just plain awesome. If his faces looked even a tiny bit less grotesque and unwashed, I might just get behind this kid. Either way, it’s a tense and moody issue, and I think it worked on several levels, as an adventure, to set up a conflict between Jessica and Logan, to create paranoia and fear… Even to confuse the issue with “Is he or isn’t he?” questions about Wolverine.

Of course, no New Avengers review would be complete without a few bones to pick. As well drawn as it is, I’m stunned that nobody just grabbed a parachute. Even if they didn’t pack any chutes, Wolverine and Cage have taken worse impacts than falling out of a plane, and Spider-Man has repeatedly shown the ability to make a parachute out of his webbing. Add to that the mystifying “Whoops! My magic cloak doesn’t work right now!” copout, and the big action sequence (while very invigorating) has a slight echo of every time a Game Master told you “The villain just gets AWAY, okay???” no matter how many different plans you might have to catch him. It’s a minor concern though, as Bendis’ central mystery is compelling, and can be seen as the Holy Grail for all the Marvel haytas, as an explanation of why everyone but Spider-Man has been a jerk the last five years. If I think of this as the one-hour mark of a two-hour movie, it’s a very effective sequence (and as I always say, it’ll work fine in the inevitable trade) but as a stand-alone issue, there’s a maddening element of “What the hell?” Still, I’m left with a sense of “What happens NOW?” that makes the wait for the next issue interminable, in a good way. Overall, while not as shocking or as well-paced as last issue, there’s really little to whine about here, as New Avengers #32 delivers 3.5 stars out of 5, making me wonder how many of these characters will still be Avengers in a couple of months…

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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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19 Comments

  1. Mike
    July 16, 2007 at 6:18 pm — Reply

    I don’t know if anyone has pointed this out to any New Avenger only readers out there, but apparently the only real attempt at an explanation is that the female Ultron that is fighting with the mighty Avengers let loose an emp or something similar and that was supposed to affect this plane, despite the great distance between them. Then again, I don’t really know, because I have never cared to pick up an issue of “earths mightiest,” I guess I’ll stick with “earth’s least facist” heroes for now.

    Also, the ONLY reason that i can think of as to why the likes of Luke Cage, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Doc Strange (maybe his cloak would work outside of the plane!? seriously, what is with that?) didn’t bail is that they wanted to stick with their less crashworthy teammates in Clint, Echo, and Danny. At the very least, Danny had to stay on board to make sure no civilians were landed upon. That’s all I can come up with, and even then it’s not that great. Seriously, only one member of the New Avengers can fly in ‘tough’ conditions?

  2. Young
    July 16, 2007 at 6:25 pm — Reply

    Ok, I can actually believe that under some types of conditions Dr. Strange’s cape might not work, but for crying out loud, the man is the SORCERER SUPREME of this dimension. Can’t he keep a plane floating in the air??? Make it land softly??? Strange has got to be the skrull or something. We’ve seem countless times that Strange can whip up spells quickly, effectively, and in a very cool-headed manner.

    If Strange is not the skrull, man, they really fumbled the ball here.

  3. gabesummers
    July 16, 2007 at 7:35 pm — Reply

    i think its the eyes…ive been re-reading the run..and ive noticed some pepole have greem eyes… not sure if my theroey is valid or not..but while re-reading i seen green eyes…like for example…during the collective arc…tony has green eyes(while taking to hill ..shes on the carrier hes in flannel and tells her he dosent think of her at all or something like that)..i dont recall him ever having green eyes…no mention of green in the hand books….also during this issue jessicas eyes are green..again i dont recall her haveing green eyes…if its not a cloring mistake i think the green eyes might be a clue…buuuutttt im going to be honest i noticed this moring while getting dressed for work (i have a smoke before heading out) so i havent had any real time to really test this thereoy…but my money is on green eyed heroes as the skrulls……
    gabesummers

  4. Brother129
    July 16, 2007 at 10:35 pm — Reply

    Personally, I think Marvel wants us to think all of the obvious big guns (Stark, Reed Richards, Wolverine) are Skrulls. Red herrings. It’ll work best if we are genuinely surprised by who’s complicit. I’m sure there are Skrulls in both sides of the Civil War. As far as the “green eyes” thing, Yu’s art makes it tough to go back and try to study facial expressions because it never looks polished.

  5. Jim
    July 16, 2007 at 11:25 pm — Reply

    Gabe, I think that’s the implication of the green eyes, especially in this issue, but I also believe that it’s a red herring in this case, as Jessica Drew has always had green eyes (Stark’s, however, are supposed to be blue). This is actually a pretty cool trick, as the clue to who might be a Skrull is also prone to inaccuracy and vagueries.

    I like Mike’s explanation of the plane shorting out. That would make sense as Bendis has said from the beginning of MA, that the two books will be counterparts. I’m not aware of too much crossover so far, but I guess MA is relatively new…. To give Dr. S. a bit of a break, he did get run through by Skrullectra two issues ago (which seems to be less than a day in actual time).

    I’ll agree with Matthew that this is a cool, talky issue but also felt a bit off in pacing. It will fit well in the arc as a lull before the next storypoint, but a lot of Wolvie’s points seem obvious now a month after getting the big Skrull reveal. It is fun to see those ideas dawning on all of these characters, though. Give Bendis this: putting a whole bunch of people who suddenly don’t trust each other in a confined room is a great dramatic move.

  6. July 17, 2007 at 12:35 am — Reply

    If I’d been writing, I’d have at least sad that Strange’s weakness was due tot he fact that half an hour ago, he’d been stabbed through the Heart. Stabbing = Weakness = Unable To Use Amulet = Cloak Don’t Work.

  7. July 17, 2007 at 1:09 am — Reply

    Also, I think that Yu’s attention to detail in his backgrounds is commendable – as is his being among the only Artists that can succesfully give Spidey’s mask more than one expression, something achieved only by the likes of Humberto Ramos, Mark Bagley and John Romita jr.

  8. July 17, 2007 at 7:25 am — Reply

    I find myself wondering about time lines here. I doubt the crash is Ultron related, since the Ultron attack happened minutes after the formation of the Mighty Avengers, and we have seen the New Avengers dealing with a non-T-1000/Ultron Tony and his Mighty Avengers. It COULD be WWH related, but I hope it isn’t. To be honest, I am really enjoying the Skrull thing AND the WWH thing. I wish they weren’t overlapping like this… If they are overlapping… AAAHH! What’s going on?!?!?

  9. July 17, 2007 at 8:40 am — Reply

    To be honest, I am really enjoying the Skrull thing AND the WWH thing. I wish they weren’t overlapping like this… If they are overlapping… AAAHH! What’s going on?!?!?

    Rereading the dialogue, I think we’re to believe that somehow the conspiracy has control of the weather, and they’ve forced the plane down to keep them from delivering the evidence…

    Which begs another question: Since the Skrulls have occasionally shown the ability to duplicate superhero abilities with technology, can anyone explain the HUGE changes in Ororo Munroe over the past five years? :)

  10. July 17, 2007 at 8:41 am — Reply

    Also, I think that Yu’s attention to detail in his backgrounds is commendable – as is his being among the only Artists that can succesfully give Spidey’s mask more than one expression, something achieved only by the likes of Humberto Ramos, Mark Bagley and John Romita jr.

    What you count as a plus, I count as a negative. Masks shouldn’t HAVE expressions… :)

  11. July 17, 2007 at 10:25 am — Reply

    I dunno…it’s just, unless it’s a really spooky character like V or Rorschach, it’s much harder to identify with an expressionless mask than one which lets us see the Face. Note how some of the most popular characters have half-masks or no mask at all – Cap, Supes, Bats, Wonder Woman – while the less populars such as Tony stark cover the whole of the face. Also Note the number of Arch-Villains with face-Covers, like Joker or Red Skull.

  12. Brother129
    July 17, 2007 at 10:27 am — Reply

    It’s too bad the New Warriors that died in Stamford weren’t Skrulls???

  13. July 17, 2007 at 11:22 am — Reply

    Brother129, Bendis as said that his Skrull Invasion won’t cancel out other events. Therefore, to have the Old NW as skrulls would devalue both the beginning of CW and also the Return of Night Thrasher – so, no go.

  14. Brother129
    July 17, 2007 at 8:42 pm — Reply

    I agree…but I am curious to the Skrulls role in Stamford (if they had one). The SHRA was probably inevitable, but we all know certain events helped it along. Where was the gentle pressure relentlessly applied?

  15. John Simons
    July 18, 2007 at 1:37 am — Reply

    Matt,

    The skrull homeworld was eaten by Galactus. Neither Clint nor any other humans were present.

  16. July 18, 2007 at 8:51 am — Reply

    The skrull homeworld was eaten by Galactus. Neither Clint nor any other humans were present.

    Indeed… I was thinking of Avengers Annual #14, in which the Skrulls lost their shape-shifting powers, but it was the Black Knight rather than Hawkeye. But, the point that I was trying and failing to make was that Clint Barton, of those assembled, Hawkeye has had more access to the reports and information regarding the Skrulls.

  17. July 18, 2007 at 8:53 am — Reply

    Where was the gentle pressure relentlessly applied?

    How about a Skrull Night Thrasher, who moved “his” team into a position to become a symbol of the problems with superheroes by signing up for a ridiculous reality television show?

  18. July 18, 2007 at 10:21 pm — Reply

    I honestly have to say that I am digging this whole Skrull-spiracy and how it is slowly but steadily gaining momentum throughout this series. I seriously hope this continues to grow slowly and carefully while still forcing the New Avengers to face whatever other problems seem to arise in the coming issues.
    The few nitpicks that people seem to have with this issue could’ve been easily explained away with just a little exposition on Bendis’ part. Such as the plane crash, I’m a hundred percent sure that the whole weather problem ties into all the Ultron business that is happening over in Mighty Avengers, the two titles are supposed to run in conjunction with each other and if the events weren’t related they wouldn’t have gone through the whole explanation of it in the “Previously in New Avengers” section.
    As for Dr. Strange’s cloak not working “under these conditions,” I think it all has to do with the fact that he was just run through with a giant frickin’ sword by a crazed, hypnotized deaf ninja girl less than a few hours ago and and he may not have been feeling tip top. All it would have taken is for Strange to say that he was still too weak. If that one little sentence was added, we all wouldn’t be here discussing it.
    As for who’s a Skrull or not, I have a feeling that we are all gonna be thrown for a loop. One issue in and everyone is already suspicious that Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Strange, Stark or even Jessica Jones are all Skrullish. But I think in the end it’s gonna turn out that no one any of us suspects will be part of the whole Skrull-stravaganza and I hope that’s how it all turns out because I for one want to end up being surprised when this whole mystery slowly simmers over into a boil and then blows up next year. And here’s me crossing my fingers that neither Hawkeye nor Iron-Fist turn out to be Skrulls.

  19. Brother129
    July 19, 2007 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    How about a Skrull Night Thrasher, who moved “his” team into a position to become a symbol of the problems with superheroes by signing up for a ridiculous reality television show?

    See I could really dig that…the whole reality show seemed out of character for every New Warrior except Speedball, but REALLY out of character for Night Thrasher.

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