Or – “Who AM Us, Anyway?”

NAv10.jpg

New Avengers is one of those titles with which I have a love/hate relationship… For every story beat that works, I find something that irritates the hell out of me. Even when Leinil Yu draws well (and some things he draws VERY well) there will be a panel where the legendarily beautiful Jessica Drew looks like Gimli with a hairlip. With the next big thing on the horizon (and the last next big thing only 3 issues into it’s 5 issue run) it’s time for Marvel to push us off in a new direction, and also confound me with a continuity conundrum. Step inside, and we’ll see whether this issue is Robert Mitchum’s left hand or his right…

Previously, on New Avengers: The New Avengers were formed by Captain America and Iron Man after a mysterious mass escape attempt from the Raft, New York’s premiere prison for super-villains. The true motivators behind that were never caught, as the team was thrown into a cycle of reactive violence, quelling the prison riot, fighting ninjas, traveling to NAv1.jpgthe Savage Land, fighting a new Adaptoid, figuring out whether their own members are traitors, then fighting amongst themselves on varying sides of Marvel’s Civil War. Worst of all, when the smoke cleared, Captain America was dead, and Luke Cage gathered his own Avengers to act as an underground force for good. Returning to Japan to reclaim Maya Lopez (formerly Ronin, now again going by Echo) the New Avengers found that Elektra Natchios is more than just a hottie with a name that sounds like the new dish at that hot Mexican/Greek fusion restaurant: she has been replaced by a Skrull, an alien shape-shifter whose race is bent on conquering Earth. On the trip home, their jet crashed (due to the continuity-timeframe-bending actions of Ultron) and Spider-Woman escaped with the body of Elektra, intent on taking it to Tony Stark for analysis. The rest of the team has holed up in a local hotel, trying to regain their bearings. The issue begins with an obvious flashback, with Captain America screaming “Your powers mean nothing!” We see that the team he’s yelling at is Goliath, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, the Wasp, and a very young Hawkeye, who takes a moment to talk back, offering to put his bow up against Cap’s fists any day…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

While it’s an effective scene on many levels, I don’t like it. Not to be a hater or anything, but I don’t like Gauntlet’s angry D.I. routine in Avengers: Initiative, and I dislike it doubly so from Steve Rogers here. Captain America never struck me as that much of a brutal thug, even if he WAS a military man of WWII, and this tough-guy routine seems much more suited to the Ultimate version of Cap… Either way, the team ruminates on how good a man Cap was, when suddenly the news reports Ultron’s attack on New York. From a timeline perspective, that means that the Mighty A’s met the New A’s the day BEFORE their lineup was completed, even though the entire membership of Iron Man’s squad was seen in the issues. This sort of oversight bothers me, in that they made a huge point in Mighty Avengers that this was their first mission, and that they had only just assembled the team. In fact, they showed Iron Man recruiting Ares ON PANEL in Mighty Avengers #1, then going straight to the Naked Ultron fight. Sometimes I hate Marvel’s continuity. Without any warning, Luke Cage turns to Spider Man and asks, “Are you a Skrull?” Peter is stunned, but to his credit, doesn’t wilt in the face of Luke’s accusations. “Fine. I’ll leave…”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Luke’s paranoia is going to be a problem, I think. The interruption of the room service guy stops the fight for a second, and Doctor Strange cloaks them all, leaving only Echo to vamp her way through the delivery. At first, I forgot it was Echo, as Yu draws her exactly like he draws Spider-Woman, right down to the cleavage… She manages to get rid of the guy, and in one panel responds to his words, even though he’s clearly facing away from her and there’s no way she could be reading his lips. Once he’s gone, the team returns to corporeality, with Peter still fuming at being accosted by his team leader…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

There’s a question that somebody might have asked during the Civil War, Hawk… Turns out the bad guys are in Hell’s Kitchen (has anybody told Daredevil?) as The Crimson Cowl, Madame Masque, Jonas Harrow and The Wizard respond to a summons from the Owl. Turns out that Owly has an item that he is ready to auction off to the highest bidder, an item that’s not only valuable, but of comic historical interest…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

This is the ORIGINAL Deathlok, the Demolisher, not the 90’s revamp featured in the recent “Beyond” limited series. Ol’ Luther comes from the far-future world of 1994 (or at least he did in 1973) and thus is full to the gills with cyber-tech far in advance of our own. The interruption in that last panel comes from a young bald man, who informs the villains that “This transaction has not been authorized. And that item is not yours to auction off.” All the assembled bad types pull their guns on him, but he isn’t concerned. The Owl points out that he didn’t answer to Kingpin, he didn’t answer to Hammerhead, and he certainly isn’t going to answer to some Moby-lookin sumb!+ch, but the man smiles quietly and tells Owl that he should be more concerned with why they let him get this far… “You’re here as a cautionary tale,” he whispers.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

The Owl falls to the ground, dead, and the others open fire, hitting… nothing. The man in the hood is gone, and his envoy informs them that Owl was operating without permission, and that is no longer an option in New York cause there’s a new “sheriff” in town, and his name is The Hood. Back in Greenwich Village, the Avengers finally manage to teleport home, and Luke is reunited with his family. Maya asks to hold the baby, while Ronin/Hawkeye tries to take care of some old business…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Spider-Man breaks the uncomfortable Jessica-related-silence by saying he’s got to go home (and when does THIS take place in his timeline, anyway?) and Luke informs that they all still have a mission. “Tell you what… We meet back here for dinner tomorrow night. Give everyone a day to clear their heads and figure some $#!+ out. If you come back, we’ll star to put together a plan. If you don’t… Ain’t no bother.” He retreats to his room, and Jessica tries to talk with him, but he isn’t communicative. Jessica launches into one of her characteristic rants, as Luke looks on suspiciously…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

They better not be messing up the single best couple in Marvel Universe history, or I’m gonna be highly #&$#ed off. As for Logan, he sets out to find some information, checking in on one of his regular (apparently) information sources. The bartender doesn’t want to talk after Logan ripped up his bar last time, but Wolverine insists. “You going to get me killed pulling $#!+ like this!” he exclaims, but Logan simply repeats his question. “Who is in the back room?” A claw across the bartop gets his answer. “Parker Robbins is back there.”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Wolverine breaks in, and finds the bald envoy and another man talking about ways to use Deathlok. He grabs him, claws at extension, and the other man quickly grabs a red cloak and disappears. Wolverine holds a claw to the bald man’s throat and growls “Tell your pal he can cut it out with the invisible $#!+. I can smell his stink…” The Hood flashes back in, with guns to Wolverine’s head, and remarks “I’m pretty sure that’s YOU you’re smelling.” Heh. This doesn’t bode well for Wolverine, or for the villains of the Marvel U…

First off, the bits that I liked: I liked Wolverine (gawd help me) confronting the Hood. I liked the confrontation between Luke and Peter. I liked the use of Jonas Harrow and Crimson Cowl, some minor Marvel villains. I LOVED the use of the original Deathlok, and I rather liked Maya Lopez flirting to keep the busboy from asking any questions. Unfortunately, the synthesis of these elements didn’t really come together for me, and the timeline issues between Mighty and New Avengers have my internal continuity cop in a conniption. Leinil Yu’s art is pretty much exactly the same as it was last issue, better than the early issues, but not making any forward strides in terms of understandability. I’m not going to keep harping on it, as Marvel editorial loves him, and many readers love it, but it’s not my thing. I hope that the Hood’s takeover is related in some way to the Skrullapalooza at Marvel, otherwise this issue is going to seem in retrospect like a tangent. Not knowing where we’re going, I’m inclined to give Bendis the benefit of the doubt, and to give new Avengers #33 2.5 out of 5 stars.

25stars.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

Zenescope Reveals Wiz World Chitown Plans

Next post

Raise the Dead Gets Hardcover Treatment

19 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    August 8, 2007 at 2:36 pm — Reply

    I was right, you can’t have a happy marriage in Marvel.

  2. Sanlear
    August 8, 2007 at 2:51 pm — Reply

    Joe Quesada is a Skrull, I bet. It makes alot of sense when you think about it……

  3. Fredy
    August 8, 2007 at 3:50 pm — Reply

    Im starting to hate Joe Quesada, first he’s gonna ruin Peter and MJ, now he’s going for Luke and Jessica. He’s the love child of unhappy marriages damn it!

  4. Peter B.
    August 8, 2007 at 4:30 pm — Reply

    Here’s my theory:

    The Skrulls will all be people who only really exist in one title right now. Also, nobody with their own book will be a Skrull. I.e., Wolverine and Spider-Man are off-limits, but Iron Fist and Echo are not. Odds are the Skrulls will not be the big heroes themselves, but just their supporting cast. So here’s my prediction: Maria Hill is a Skrull. Mary Jane Watson Parker is a Skrull (it would explain the one more day stuff coming down the pipe, and it fits with Quesada’s theory of how to make Spider-Man single again without making him a widow or a divorcee). I’m sure there’s more, but I think, in general, the Skrull will not be the hero, but instead someone close to the hero.

  5. Mark I.
    August 8, 2007 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    Jarvis is a Skrull!!!

  6. Brother129
    August 8, 2007 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    I don’t think they’re trying to ruin Luke and Jessica…but Luke’s Cagey Senses have a right to be tingling. He’s been paranoid since the big Skrull reveal and it makes sense that he would go after Spidey first (because none of us who love Peter Parker can understand his recent behavior). If you follow Jessica’s characterization in Alias, this doting Avenger’s wife doesn’t really fit her. It may be nothing, but in Captain America #26 she make s a comment about not having a glass of wine with Spider-Woman because she’s a “nursing mother”, giving further credence that some type of switcharoo has occured. There’s is probably some clue we missed with Dr. Strange’s “good intentions” spell so I’m going have to re-read that one. Any thoughts there? But I’m thinking, that just because someone’s been co-opted by a Skrull (like Jessica probably has) doesn’t mean their dead. (They’re probably in the Negative Zone for all I know.) Do you really think they’d kill Elektra, aside from the resurrections?

  7. Nikolah B.
    August 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm — Reply

    re:Peter B.
    Iron Fist also got is own title (and a damned good one i might add)so therefore to follow your theory,he’s not a skrull either..

  8. Roy
    August 8, 2007 at 6:04 pm — Reply

    Skrulls, Skrulls, everywhere Skrulls. I give it a month before we find out that Ray Palmer is actually a Skrull. Yes – Ray Palmer.

  9. Maximus Rift
    August 8, 2007 at 7:22 pm — Reply

    I’m starting to have some doubts about the Skrull story if it’s going to be used as a scapegoat to retcon most of Marvel. Also having consecutive world changing stories is putting me off.

  10. Baal
    August 8, 2007 at 8:41 pm — Reply

    And no one’s going to comment on how this issue looked like it was drawn with a Sharpie? I agree that Yu has a dynamic storytelling sense but it’s almost lost when you can’t really decipher many of the individual panels. There was one during the Luke-Spidey confrontation that I had to squint at to figure out what position Cage’s torso was in. I say get Yu off a team book and give him a solo series with a mystery type setting. Preferably one without any prominent females, unless they’re supposed to be freaky. I’d bet he’d do a cool Nekra…

  11. August 8, 2007 at 11:55 pm — Reply

    And no one’s going to comment on how this issue looked like it was drawn with a Sharpie?

    I’m done barking up that particular tree. Apparently, somebody at Marvel seems to think that it’s evocative of something or other, so we get to look at it…

  12. Josh
    August 9, 2007 at 12:02 am — Reply

    What’s so insane about the new/mighty avengers interaction timeline screw-up is that Bendis is writing BOTH titles! I mean, come on! I can kinda understand it (or at least chalk it up to miscommunication) if two series have different writers, but if one guy is writing both of them, i expect better than this.

  13. Roy
    August 9, 2007 at 6:07 am — Reply

    [i]What’s so insane about the new/mighty avengers interaction timeline screw-up is that Bendis is writing BOTH titles! I mean, come on! I can kinda understand it (or at least chalk it up to miscommunication) if two series have different writers, but if one guy is writing both of them, i expect better than this.[/i]

    Its all quite simple, really. One of the titles is taking place on Earth-2.

  14. Roy
    August 9, 2007 at 6:08 am — Reply

    Oooh, my markup skills are not so great.

  15. J'osh
    August 9, 2007 at 7:45 am — Reply

    A few thoughts I totally agree with my internal continuity clock having a fit. I didn’t pick up MA after issue 2, so I’ve missed what 5 or 6 minutes? But let’s take what’s been happening add in the events of WWH and Iron Fists solo book. The Marvel timeline is a total mess. In WWH the NA are intacted and interacting well. The Luke Cage from this issue would not be running off to help Tony Stark. Ya know maybe Iron fist is a Skrull, it would explain why he’s not wearing his way cooler costume from his current book.

  16. Peter B.
    August 9, 2007 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    Whoops. My bad. Take Iron Fist off the list and replace him with Cage.

  17. August 9, 2007 at 2:13 pm — Reply

    I agree with whomever already mentioned it … NA & MA timelines are excruciatingly frustrating. Couple that with Yu’s artwork (I know Stephen is with me on this) are making this a hard read. Last month’s issue was the best drawn yet on his run, I just don’t know what made him lose that ground this time.

  18. Brent F.
    August 9, 2007 at 7:25 pm — Reply

    Yu’s Wolverine looks like an ape and his Owl looks like a Days of Future Past Wolverine.

  19. September 5, 2007 at 10:05 am — Reply

    I hope that Owl was a Skrull or something, cos Yu’s rendition is actually the best I’ve ever seen…heck, he actually looks like an Owl!

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