Or – “The Triumphant Return Of Avengers Double-Feature!”

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With so much drama in the L.B.C. Marvel Universe to date, something that seems to have  fallen by the wayside is the revelation that Doctor Strange is no longer considered fit to be Sorceror Supreme.  This opens up all sorts of storytelling possibilities, just like it did in 1989 when alien mage Urthona took over the position of S.S. from Doc, but in this case it seems that the replacement is going to be somewhat more local…

Previously, on New Avengers:  Last issue’s dramatic revelation by the former Hawkeye has Na2.jpgquickly heated up the already tense situation revolving around Norman Osborn’s ascension to power in the Marvel U.  The New Avengers are still underground, but have added several members (including Mighty Avengers field leader Ms. Marvel, the new Captain America and the real Spider-Woman) as well as a wife and baby in the form of Luke Cage’s wife Jessica and infant daughter Danielle.  Dealing with having their identities stolen, their lives turned upside-down, the team finds themselves lambasted in the media, while their mortal enemies are media darlings.  How much worse can it get?  Does the possibility of Sorceror Supreme Victor Von Doom make you shake in your shoes?  How about Dormammu?   My personal vote is for Brother Voodoo, but I suspect Bendis doesn’t have the love for Gabriel Drumm that I do…  In any case, we’re about to add some chocolate (sorcery) to your peanut butter (gritty street level drama).  Two great tastes that may taste a little weird together…

Page one of this book immediately irritates me, shoving Parker Robbins down my throat again, as the erstwhile leader of the super-villains of the Marvel Universe has an argument with his patron, Dormammu about becoming the new Supreme, and finally gaining revenge against Dormammu’s old enemy Stephen Strange.  At the same time, Carol Danvers sits in the dark in her underwear, eating cereal and watching TV, in a transparent attempt to relate to my demographic…  She watches as Wonder Man has a public appearance go horribly wrong when he dares to speak against Norman.  “Janet Van Dyne is dead, and Norman Osborn is Nick Fury.  Tell me there’s a God.”  Before Ms. Marvel can dissolve into tears, Ronin returns and she confronts him regarding his television appearance last issue.  They both sadly agree that the only way to beat Norman is to trigger him to screw up, and Clint believes that by making himself a target, Norm will lose is cool.  Carol isn’t so sure…

In a small town in New Jersey, the Young Avenger called Wiccan goes about his way, and incidentally stops bank robbers from escaping with his powers.  As he walks away, he is addressed by a creepy old man in a dark alley…  Doctor Strange.  Looking remarkably like Stan Lee, Doc has come to find out whether Wiccan is the new Magic Man In Charge, but he can’t be sure.  His former teacher, The Ancient One, told him that the decision would be clear for him, but Wiccan is concerned by other issues.  “Who else COULD it be?  Is there a list?”  Strange says that there is, and that some of the names on it are less than savory.  As if on cue, Strange looks out the window of the diner in which they sit to see Parker Robbins approaching to challenge him.  Cut back to Avengers apartment, where they all discuss the new team’s structure, and realize that they have a problem: Spider-Man’s mask.  With all the Skrullian craziness, they insist that he unmask, and finally he does, to the amazement of Jessica Jones, who had a huge crush on him in high school.  She leaps up to greet him, only to find out that he only remembers her as “Coma Girl.”  While Luke Cage is disturbed to hear about his wife’s high school crush, she stalks away angry at Peter for his percieved callousness.  Before things can get even weirder, Stephen Strange teleports in, falling to the floor and crying for help…

Before we go over the issue itself, I have to tell you something that may reveal a bit of bias on my part: I hate Parker Robbins.  I hate him more every time he appears, a two-bit minor player who keeps getting the huge push to the main event level without provocation or the chops to really pull it off, sort of a super-villain version of Jeff Jarrett.  There’s nothing about him that I find in any way interesting.  Of course, that does lead to the paradox of the issue:  I like the idea of Strange and Robbins fighting over the mantle of Sorceror Supreme.  The problem comes when Parker actually wins (as I strongly suspect that he is going to.)  The characterization here (much like in Dark Avengers earlier) works a lot better than the action, and the revelation of Jessica’s crush on Peter is a wonderful moment of interaction that, unfortunately, goes nowhere.  All in all, though, the issue is okay, with Billy Tan’s Peter Parker and Doctor Strange really standing out as well-done, but overall it feels like Chapter 3 of 6.  New Avengers #51 chalks up 2.5 out of 5 stars, and a fervent hope that Brother Voodoo makes the cut next issue.  Say it with me:  “By the power of the Loa!”

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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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18 Comments

  1. Randallw
    March 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    For me, I get slightly confused when anyone referrs to Parker (The Hood) as I keep thinking off Peter Parker. Who decided to give a villain almost the same name as Spiderman?

  2. March 25, 2009 at 11:13 pm — Reply

    Bryan K. Vaughan.

  3. Randallw
    March 26, 2009 at 12:35 am — Reply

    It’d be interesting if someone were to call out ‘Parker!’ whilst they were both fighting

    What?/What?

  4. Alex Jay Berman
    March 26, 2009 at 3:51 am — Reply

    If not for the “Hey, Carol”, I would have thought that he woman eating cereal who chewed Hawkeye/Ronin for his impromptu tv appearance was his recently-returned wife, Mockingbird, not Ms. Marvel. The characterization seemed ill-suited for Carol Danvers–not that Bobbi Morse is actually some kind of weak sister, but it’s closer to how she–having just come back from an ordeal as she did–might act right now.

  5. Alex Jay Berman
    March 26, 2009 at 3:53 am — Reply

    Oh; and I actually liked The Hood as Vaughan originally wrote him in the initial miniseries–that is,as a conflicted villain and erstwhile hero-at-times.

  6. Ricco
    March 26, 2009 at 9:11 am — Reply

    I don’t get it, in Ms Marvel we know Carol is dying and using her powers speed this up and causes her alot of pain yet last time she overloaded herself with Spiderwoman’s power with little effect and worked with Spiderman (in Ms Marvel) as if they weren’t part of the same team. Carol’s been doing secret agent work in the Middle East when does she get the time to do her Avenger stuff?

    I for one like the Hood (then again I like Hush), he’s the Kingpin but nicer to his troops (at least the supervillains ones, he tortures and kills some lieutenants in Punisher 3) he broke them out of jail when they were arrested and organised them in a mutually beneficial business deal. Plus he’s a magic user who for once doesn’t have some sort of magic sword but uses guns instead. Plus I like his hood…

  7. Salieri
    March 26, 2009 at 11:16 am — Reply

    Ricco: BENDIS!

    (Yes, kids – if your fave characters are acting outlandishly unlike themselves and/or being really EXTREME then you go “Oh, Right – Loeb”. If they start talking in teenager’s soundbites and doing things and going places which they have explicitly said that they shouldn’t, you go “BENDIS!”. Somehow, it eases the pain.)

  8. ~wyntermute~
    March 26, 2009 at 12:03 pm — Reply

    I just wonder if we’re supposed to believe that JJ and Peter went to school together all along, or if “Coma Girl” is part of our Brand New Day?

  9. DrStrangeCubicle
    March 26, 2009 at 12:32 pm — Reply

    I haven’t read it, but wasn’t that crush addressed in Alias? I vaguely remember hearing about them going to school together before.

  10. March 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm — Reply

    Coma Girl is a retcon, but not a new one, Wyntermute. Jessica’s crush on Peter Parker was established in her own series, “Alias” several years ago. It was one of the most poignant parts of her origin, her hopeless crush on the kid that everyone else mocked and teased, and it worked there. Here, it’s a cute piece of kitsch, but there it was literally heart-breaking for both of ’em.

    If only she’d gotten the guts to say something…

  11. Ross
    March 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm — Reply

    Hi guys, sorry to be really dumb here, but I thought Spiderman’s dual identity has been public knowledge since Civil War? I may have missed something here, but would appreciate being corrected on this one, as I’m new to all this!

    Thanks

  12. mosdef
    March 26, 2009 at 9:15 pm — Reply

    Im wondering Matthew if you hate The Sentry as equally as i hate The Hood. Do you even hate The Sentry? I think you should…

  13. Ross
    March 27, 2009 at 2:22 am — Reply

    Thanks!

  14. March 27, 2009 at 11:17 am — Reply

    @Matthew

    Yeah I don’t like having The Hood forced on us, yes he filled a void that the Kingpin left (but he’s back now).

    @mosdef

    Agreed. The Sentry farking sucks, he has been the weakest link in the New/Mighty Avengers stories since he was “introduced”.

    I like how BMB acknowledged that Luke Cage has been the unofficial leader of the group for quite some time, and that Clint is the right one to lead them now. If only I knew who the hell Mockingbird was I’d be a little more clear on things.

    And when is Dr. Strange going to stop being all emo? Waaaa I abused my powers to frak up the Hulk … lame.

  15. Brother129
    March 27, 2009 at 3:22 pm — Reply

    So we’re all just going to ignore the BND Elephant in the room?

  16. March 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm — Reply

    Im wondering Matthew if you hate The Sentry as equally as i hate The Hood. Do you even hate The Sentry? I think you should…

    I hate the Sentry as written by Bendis. Does that count?

  17. LV
    June 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    I’m a fan of the Hood, but I have to admit the character appealed to me more prior to Dark Reign. I understand that he is becoming an increasingly “dark and powerful” character, due to Dormammu’s influence and Robbins’ own ambition, but I prefered it when he was a common criminal that carried more influence than power. It’s my fear that his supervillain army is going to quickly lose all personality and become nothing more than an accessory to his character, which means that they might not stick around for much longer.

    And as far as the Sentry… he’s a total waste of a character. How many stories have actually been improved by his presence? He feels shoehorned into most stories, which really disrupts the momentum. If Marvel wanted their own Superman, they should have brought Gladiator to Earth, because at least that would have made for some interesting reading.

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