Or – “In Wrestling, They Call It ‘The Rub’… “

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The Rub is that moment where an established star uses their credibility to build the popularity of a less-established character, such as when Mick Foley lost to Triple H in a ‘Hell In A Cell’ match, (a match that Foley himself pretty much made famous) making Triple H seem that much more impressive.  In comics, you might recall Captain America stepping aside to let the Wasp be Avengers chairperson, or (more recently) Mr. Fantastic leaving The Black Panther in charge of the Fantastic Four.  This issue is ostensibly about young Mary Sue Maya Lopez, but there’s another Avenger on hand to, in wrestling vernacular, put her over…

Previously, on New Avengers:  Everybody mistrusts everybody.  Some of the Avengers may be Skrulls, NA1.jpgsome may be traitors, Wolverine is a walking cliche, Spider-Man is apparently back in college, Iron Man is a schmuck, and Former Captain America Steve Rogers is STILL dead…  or IS he?  Either way, nobody knows which of their former friends and neighbors they can trust.  Since Doctor Strange left, the New Avengers have been hiding out in one of Iron Fist’s apartment buildings, stripped of virtually everything that makes them heroic.  Now, on the eve of the Secret Invasion (and can something really be considered a secret when Marvel has been hyping it into the stratosphere for over 18 months?) Echo has no idea what she’s supposed to be doing.  Daredevil convinced her to be a hero, Captain America convinced her to be an Avenger, but they both almost immediately forgot the damage they did to her life.  Now, after a couple of months stuck in an abandoned apartment with a bunch of guys she barely knows, Echo is ready to take back her life…  But what happens when it turns out that somebody else ALSO wants to take your life back?

Open on a black panel, which segues to a slightly-less black one, revealing Echo’s own face in the mirror.  I admit to not really knowing the character that well, but it looks like she’s applying the handprint across her face with some sort of facepaint…  Or, maybe she’s just holding her hand over it symbollically, I dunno.  She leaves her room, stepping into the common area to find Wolverine raiding the Avenger-fridge.  She watches him intently, and he suddenly speaks.  “I ain’t a skrull, Maya,” he says (and unlike Leinil Yu, the artist actually bothers to draw him turning his face so she can actually SEE him speak.)  “You’re thinking, ‘He’s never once mentioned our past.  Does he know about our past?  Is that why he hasn’t mentioned it?  Is it really him?”  Maya stops to listen…  Wait, Echo and Wolverine have a past?  Did I miss some issues?  Hell.  Okay, I’m off to the Wiki for a few minutes…  Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. 

Okay, I’m back.  Turns out that she IS applying the faceprint with makeup in that first scene, and her past with Wolverine is spoken of for the first time here, far as I can tell.  It’s nice to know that everybody in the Marvel Universe turns in the same circles over and over, otherwise we might have to learn some new characters every once in a while.  Wolverine swears that he’s really Wolverine, and Maya hilariously tells him to stop hitting on her.  Wolverine pleads innocent, but Echo leaves.  She swings out across the city’s rooftops, apparently looking for someone, until she stops on top of a particular building, home to Nelson and Murdock, attorneys at law.  Within seconds of her landing, Daredevil steps from the shadows, intoning (very out of character, to my ear) “Hi, Maya.”  She questions him as to why he sent Cap to her, and he seems confused, then tries to talk his way out of nearly breaking character.  Maya listens to Faux-devil’s senseless prevarications before asking, “Who are you really?”

“DD” stands still for a few seconds before his skin starts to crawl and morph, turning him into… Echo?  “She” tries to talk the real Echo into surrendering, but the geniune Maya Lopez quickly attacks with her swords.  It’s not really that dangerous of a feint, as her doppelganger suddenly fires Cyclops eyebeams at her, nearly killing her before kicking in with flame-powers of some sort, and preparing to broil Maya alive.  “I really do admire you,” says the skrull, as she moves closer.  “Really?” asks Maya.  “Then you’ll get a kick out of this.”  Wolverine suddenly leaps out of the skyand slashed the creature open, throwing her to the ground and slicing her green shape-shifty guts out.  Switching from Ech-faux to Wolver-ain’t and back to Fake-devil, the Skrull unleashes her firepower on Wolverine before teleporting away, Nightcrawler style.  Wolverine tries to warn Echo to watch her back, but in a nice moment,  she’s facing away and can’t hear.  Echo manages to fight off her double, injuring the creature greatly, and when she and a parboiled Wolverine regroup, the Skrull teleports away.  Wolverine is badly injured, and grumbles “Damn ‘porters.  Can’t track ’em for $#!+.”  Maya returns home to the Third Floor West Side walkup of Solitude, where she meets Clint Barton, former Hawkeye and her successor as Ronin.  (And how awkward must it be to have a crush on a man who wears your clothes?  Echo should probably ask Liza Minelli…)

Hawk’ offers her some tea, and asks how she’s doing.  “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” she replies, and Clint explains that he can relate.  She doesn’t believe him, but he points out what I realized months ago.  “When I first joined the Avengers as Hawkeye, I thought: Okay, it’s me and my little arrows right next to the God of Thunder…  But then, there’s this moment.  Something happens… and you are the exact right person for the exact right moment.”  He tells her that, someday, SHE’LL be a part of somebody’s ideal Avengers memory, and someday she’ll figure out that THESE are the good old days.  He tells her that he wanted to kiss her when bandaging her arm last issue, and she tells him she wouldn’t have minded.  They fall into each others’ arms, and some time later, post-coitally, she puts her hand back over her face again, fading the story to black…

…and makes me say, “Hmmm.”  I like nearly all of the dialogue in this story, even the ridiculously obvious “silly philistine readers complain about my Avengers lineup, but they complained about ‘Cap’s Kooky Quartet’ back in the day” portion of the program, and the awkward “Love my favorite character, she’s sleeping with all the right superheroes!” thing.  Still, Echo is a very likeable, if hard to fathom, main character, and David Mack’s art is silky as hell, making Echo look really awesome.  It’s a very strong issue (due in part, I’m sure, to my prediliction against regular artist Yu’s art) and it has some great moments.  The stitching between the Skrull-fight and the Hawkeye-jumping is pretty thin, but overall New Avengers #39 ranks an impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars…  Tune in this afternoon for the second half of A.D.F. as we go over Mighty Avengers #11, and ask that musical question, “Is The Sentry just Superman with a bleach job?”

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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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7 Comments

  1. davek
    April 5, 2008 at 9:34 am — Reply

    The deal with the “hand” – Maya’s father died when she was very young, his last gesture was to place his hand over her face. Her warpaint commemorates that gesture. So by her doing that at the end of the issue, its proving she’s not a Skrull – a Skrull wouldn’t know that.

  2. Brother129
    April 5, 2008 at 9:48 am — Reply

    I loved this issue as well. But my only problem was the freaking out I was doing in hoping that Maya just didn’t bang Skrull Hawkeye at the end of this story….

  3. April 5, 2008 at 9:52 am — Reply

    Not sure what past Wolverine is talking about, but they DID encounter each other back in the Daredevil issues by Mack that delved into her past. I can’t remember the issue, but she came across Logan in the woods on some sort of spiritual quest. It seems here that he is referencing a romantic encounter though.

  4. Mark I.
    April 5, 2008 at 10:27 am — Reply

    Blah blah blah ninja chicks.

  5. April 5, 2008 at 3:40 pm — Reply

    Matthew, are you aware of all the ‘controversy’ over the swiped art in this issue?
    http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/5240122.html
    http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/5249723.html

    Despite all that hub-bub it was still a pretty enjoyable issue. I’m not sure what I think of Secret Invasion yet but I got my hopes up.
    Oh, Clint wearing an MC Chris T-shirt, heh.

  6. Josh P.
    April 5, 2008 at 4:56 pm — Reply

    Re: Wolverine and Echo’s “Past”

    There was an arc in Daredevil, Vol. 8 in the trades, featuring Echo. IIRC it featured Wolverine.

    That should explain the whole past thing. Wolvie helped Maya out on part of her vision quest.

  7. April 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm — Reply

    Just looked into that art swipe/homage/plagiarism/ripoff. That is pretty wild. Not sure how I feel about it…

    I am as impressed as I am disappointed.

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