Or – “Doubling Up To Keep Up With Bagley.”

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See, the joke there is that Mark Bagley draws ridiculously fast.  After the first seven issues of Mighty A’s took somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty-three years to come out, (even though they were supposed to tie into issues of NEW Avengers which then ended up having to be in their future… or however that sentence began) Marvel apparently wants to make up the difference, cranking out a Bagley-drawn issue roughly every seventeen minutes.  The effect, whether intentional or not, has been to make Mighty Avengers feel like a completely different book…  but, you have to ask, is it one I want to read?

AV1.jpgPreviously, on Mighty Avengers:  During their first mission, Tony Stark’s hand-picked Avengers (consisting of a strong guy, a strong guy, a strong girl, another strong guy, a girl with no powers at all, a girl who’s two inches tall, and Tony himself) ran afoul of a naked woman claiming to be Ultron.  Within seconds of stopping that threat, they combined forces with Luke Cage’s Avengers to fight an invasion of symbiotes, ala Venom.  During all of this madness, it was discovered that (somehow) this was all the work of Doctor Doom, even though the question of WHERE all these symbiotes came from remains unanswered.  Because this is Marvel as written by Bendis, they immediately leap into action with no though to the consequences and all hell is probably going to break loose as a result.

Issue #9 kicks off with a quiet moment, as Doctor Doom visits with a woman that he’s trying to woo.  It’s actually a pretty interesting scene, especially as the woman in question is Morgan Le Fey, and he’s travelled back in time to the year 1211 to meet her.  The implication here is that they just did some things not approved by the Comic Code Authority, and Morgan gives him a seductive smile, asking for a present.  Doom reminds her that if he brings her something from the future, it could damage the timestream, and bids her farewell.  “I shall return to you,” he says, and Morgan replies “With a gift.  Or do not come back.”  As he teleports home, Doom finds his ancestral home under siege.  The head lackey in charge explains that the Venom Virus was launched, and that Iron Man has backtracked it to them.  “Damn it,” says Doom, somewhat out of character (at least in my mind.)

We see the Avengers in action, attacking in full force, and my first thought is “Bagley really can’t draw the new horrible Iron Man mask.”  Doom launches his counterstrike, and the Avengers take fire until Ares has an idea.  He flies the Quinjet RIGHT INTO CASTLE DOOM, at full speed, then leaps from the flames, hacking at Doombots with aplomb.  “Do you have any ideas that won’t cost me north of 25o million dollars?” thinks Iron Man.  Heh…  We are then treated to six pages of splash, illustrating the huge conflict, and I’m a bit irritated.  Yes, it’s very well drawn, but it’s a full third of the book used for fight scenes.  Iron Man breaks into the castle, and places Doom under arrest, and the two armored dictators clash.  Doom cheats a bit, using magic to overcome Stark’s defenses.  Team leader Ms. Marvel (leader in name only, really, as Iron Man undermines or overrides her every decision) sends The Sentry in to take Doom out.  The attack knocks down a huge chunk of Doom’s castle (“Holy $#!+!” thinks Spider-Woman) knocking all three warriors through the floor…  and into the time machine!

While the Avengers regroup, Iron Man awakes on a rooftop, as his armor reboots.  “Satellite connection cannot be made.  Please stand by.”  He looks out to see Times Square, and realizes that he is in his own past.  Doom suddenly appears, roaring “You did this, not I!  And you will pay for it with your dying breath!  I promise you this!  On my mother’s eternal soul, I promise you.”  What’s got up his skirt, anyway?  As Issue #10 dawns, we find our third time-tossed character, waking up in an alley, as a very retro splash page announces the fact that “All the answers you need are on the very net page!”  It’s cute, and the coloring is done in a manner that evokes the process color that they used in Marvel comics of the 70’s.

Sentry takes to the air, trying to figure out where he is, and I crack up at visual effects.  See, back in the 70’s, Marvel used to put coming attractions for their other books in the margins of each comic, and the creators have used that technique here (along with cream colored pages that make me think of the days when comics were printed on actual newsprint.)  He sees Thor in action, and realizes that Avengers Tower is missing (nobody points out the presence of two more towers at the end of the island, either) and suddenly sees a superhero leaping into action…

The Sentry!  Bob, naturally freaks a bit, collapsing onto a rooftop as he watches himself fighting the Void.  Meanwhile, Doom and Stark attack one another, and Iron Man spits “Cut the $#!+, Victor.”  It’s another example of (to my ear) inappropriate dialogue.  He talkes Doom down, and convinces him that they must work together, and Victor realizes the wisdom in his words.  “Okay.  Yes,” says the monarch of Latveria, and I don’t buy any of this.  Still, Mark Bagley draws a really awesome Doom, giving the armor personality without cheating and having the faceplate change every panel.  Without warning, Doom is poleaxed by an angry Sentry (the future one) who pummels him repeatedly, crying “PUT IT BACK!” 

The two armored jerks put aside their differences long enough to calm down their crazed traveling companion, and Sentry reveals that he saw himself.  “I want to get out of here,” babbles the Sentry, and Iron Man agrees that they all do.  He turns to Doom, and says “Right, doctor?”  “Is he insane?” is all Doom replies.  Heh.  The threesome puts their domes together, and realizes that the only way to get a time machine without flying to Latveria is to break into the Baxter Building, but doing so would change their past.  “One would argue that a man like Richards, like you, like myself, has seen and done soe much that a time-space event like this wouldn’t matter…” says Doom.  “I’d hate to be wrong and we get back home and the apes have taken over because of something we said or did here,” retorts Iron Man, and Doom… agrees!  Both Stark and I are fascinated by the idea of Doctor Doom sitting down to watch ‘Planet of The Apes,’ when suddenly Iron Man has an epiphany.

“Bob.  You, right now, can go into the Baxter Building and get the time machine.”  Sentry doesn’t know what he means, but Iron Man reminds him that his past will be wiped away, that no one will remember anything that had to do with him.  “The worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone, and now it’s their great news that could get us home,” Sentry ruminates, and flies off to get the machine.  Doom admires the achievement of a man who could wipe his hated foe out of everyone’s memory, and Iron Man snaps “You are a horror.”  “A lot more people hate you than hate me,” responds Victor truthfully.  Can I get a witness, Spoilerites?

Sentry walks into the Baxter, and meets the Thing, who tries to slow him down.  “No one goes in the lab, buddy.  Not me, not you.  Lock and key,” says Ben.  He tries to call Reed, but Sentry smashes the phone.  “The good news is you won’t remember any of this,” Sentry remarks, and punches The Thing halfway to Poughkeepsie.  He knocks the Thing OUT OF THE BUILDING, smashing him into the pavement, then all three of them enter Reed’s time machine and head for home.  “When we get back, you’re under arrest for crimes against humanity,” says Iron Man, but Doom doesn’t recognize his authority. They arrive in the present, seemingly immediately after they left, and Doom… is gone!  As Sentry takes to the air, he sees Ms. Marvel, warning them both to get out, just as a massive explosion takes out the remains of the castle.  An explosion with Iron Man at ground zero…

Part two of this story really was better, but mostly because of the character bits between Doom and Iron Man and the conceit of making the comic look like an actual Marvel from the 1970’s.  Sentry’s histrionics got old very quickly, and the end was, yet again, a “WTF?” moment from out of left field.  Since issue #1, Mighty Avengers has been like the middle 30 minutes of a Steven Seagal movie, heavy on action and momentum, but lacking a lot in the way of PLOT and that doesn’t change here.  Still, Bagley’s storytelling is strong (save for a couple of strange assymetrical faces on Sentry and The Wasp that make the art look somewhat rushed) and makes up for a lot of the story’s shortcomings.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t fix all of them, leaving me with one issue that’s completely forgettable, and one that’s mostly memorable for it’s gimmicks.  This leaves us with a combined score of just 2 out of 5 stars, as Mighty Avengers #9 & #1o don’t quite bring the awesome.  Far be it from me to judge, but perhaps it’s time to let somebody OTHER than Brian Michael Bendis play with some of the good toys?

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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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9 Comments

  1. mosdef
    March 18, 2008 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!!!! I will testify that tony stark annoys me greatly!!!

  2. Randallw
    March 18, 2008 at 10:47 pm — Reply

    and I will testify that I support every decision he made. It’s nice to see that things are actually happening though, and I do enjoy the old look they went with. Maybe the artist is throwing out the art quicker because he is going with an old style. No need to spend so much time.

  3. March 19, 2008 at 7:08 am — Reply

    Maybe the artist is throwing out the art quicker because he is going with an old style. No need to spend so much time.

    It’s possible… But I’d be willing to bet that Marvel put Bagley onboard because he IS fast, something that Frank Cho (the previous artist) was not.

  4. March 19, 2008 at 9:08 am — Reply

    Since Marvel put Bagley on, I’ve lost all interest in Mighty Avengers. I think part of that was because I was willing to put up with a mediocre story because the art was so pretty to look at (hey, Starkultron was only a hot naked chick because that’s all Cho knows how to draw). Now because the story is mediocre-to-poor, and I’m not a fan of Bagley on anything but Ultimate Spidey, I’ve lost interest in Mighty Avengers altogether …

  5. Unimpressed
    March 19, 2008 at 9:38 am — Reply

    I hate to agree but agree I must. I love BMB’s dialogue but his plotting has been less than stellar on the Avengers for a little while now. I know that he’s very obviously building up to Secret Invasion but there has to be more movement in the book to take us there. I’m not sure if the Cho fiasco of a story (great art but all it really did for me was make me think that the Sentry’s wife was a Skrull so why bother use that many issues) slowed everything down too much but BMB needs to play catch up (if that’s the case) not slow everything down more…

  6. March 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm — Reply

    Ugh. I’m still trying to figure out when this is supposed to be taking place. Could someone explain to me when this synchs up with WWH & New Avengers? For I am but a simple man.

  7. Brother129
    March 19, 2008 at 6:35 pm — Reply

    Mark Bagley doesn’t deserve the blame on this. I save all of it for BMB and Marvel editorial for allowing this glacial pace/decompressed storyline to go on in this title and get all of Marvel continuity out of whack. I’m bummed Bagley is leaving for DC and we should thank him profusely for giving us THREE ON TIME ISSUES of Mighty Avengers. Blame the writer if the story is screwy and could have been told in two issues. Apparently its Bendis’ world and we’re just paying rent.

  8. jman
    March 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm — Reply

    I couldn’t agree more Brother129:

    Bendis has Doom and Morrigan Le Fey using simple words like, “okay”, and simple phrases like “damn it,””you fools!!”. Isn’t doom known for more regal, pompous sounding dialogue? Then the team wraps up a symbiote invasion in one book, yet it takes 6 issues to beat a nekkid Ultron?! That ain’t decompression, homie…That’s stalling the book to make money. I almost feel as if Bendis is dumbing down his characters(insulting long-time readers) or phoning in the script.

    He can stay as a plotter(just say Iron Man was a Skrull in Civil War and get it out of your damn system already), but get him some help on character personalities/dialogue ASAP. Everyone tends to sound like a 1930’s vaudeville act…I begrudgingly stayed on after Cho left(this is my favorite Marvel team); Since I like Bagley, I’ll drop this after #12…

  9. Randallw
    March 20, 2008 at 2:01 am — Reply

    I actually got my issue today. It’s a bit of a brake having Doom say “What?” when they mention Sentry’s amnesia thing, although I did like him telling Stark to cut out trying to hack his armour. I suspect S.H.I.E.L.D demolished his castle, which should tick Doom off big time.

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