Or – “The Villains Take Center Stage…”

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Last issue, the presence of mind-manipulators the Corruptor and the Mandrill gave our intrepid reviewer some heebies to go with his big plate of jeebies.  Will the mind control hijinks continue, or is there even creepier stuff on the horizon for our intrepid Avengers crew?  Here’s one thing for sure:  Having the Hood on the cover isn’t exactly filling me with confidence…

New Avengers #62

NA2_1.jpgCOVER BY: Stuart Immonen
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Stuart Immonen
INKS: Array
COLORED BY: Dave McCaig

Previously, on New Avengers:  Last issue, The Hood’s goons engaged the New Avengers in battle, hoping to quickly take out the outlaw heroes.  The Corruptor managed to influence Captain America IX to attack his mentor, Steve Rogers, while the Living Laser provided air support.  Across town, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman shared an awkward moment or three before getting double-teamed by the Mandrill and the Griffin.  None of these villains has ever been much of a threat before, but now that Parker Robbins has upped his game and used his new Norn powers to boost their abilities, the villains quickly gain the upper hand.  Will Norman Osborn get to cross two spiders and two stars off his “Kill The Heroes” picture pages?  Or can Pete, Jessica, Bucky and Steve take down the four ex-lamers in time to figure out that Asgard is being invaded? 

Our story opens with a couple of pages of clever dialogue from Spider-Man as he falls to his impending doom…  Lamenting the fact that he is being beaten by the Griffin (again), he quickly rights himself just as his own partner attacks him.  Parker luck, indeed.  Spider-Woman uses her flight and ranged frap-rays to keep him on the defensive, thanks to the mind-control of the Mandrill.  (“Mind control…  Google it,” Mandrill tells Griffin.  Heh.)  While the Spider-family works out its domestic issues, the Captains America fight on, while a pair of HAMMER troops watch in fear.  One of the soldiers decides to stand up and fight, only to lose his head to a laser blast.  Steve Rogers uses reverse psychology on The Living Laser to try and get him to retreat, using his legendary oratory skills.  “I’m giving you one chance and one chance only.  RUN.  Run away and once and for all…  Change your life.”  The Laser retorts in fine fifth grade fashion, “Or what?”  “Or it seems Luke Cage will punch your head right off your body.”  Luke arrives, and does so, in complete defiance of the fact that the Living Laser is generally intangible.  It is, indeed, kind of his shtick.  Bucky quickly electrocutes him with a power line, once again in defiance of how his powers work, and he dissolves.  As Luke realizes that Steve is back, they’re all surprised by a laser sight appearing right over Rogers’ heart…

Spider-Man and Spider-Woman continue the fighty-fighty and she starts to regain her senses.  Peter tells her that he knows what to do, and we cut to a wide shot as Mandrill and Griffin celebrate their victory.  They leap down to survey their win, and take venom blasts and webbing in the face.  Jessica rages, “YOU DO NOT $&@$ WITH ME!” and threatens to kill the villains in revenage.  Spider-Man instead -webs them up and calls the press in to handle the pick-up, hoping that the publicity will keep thm in jail a minute longer.  Back at Steve’s wrecked apartment, the laser sight is revealed to be attached to a rifle in the hands of Nick Fury, who tries to deactivate Steve, thinking he’s an LMD.  HAMMER troops attack, but are no match for two Captain Americas, the Secret Warriors and Fury…  Some time later, the team returns to the Avengers underground safehouse to the amazement of Ronin, Ms. Marvel and Jessica Jones.  “I went to the living legend store and this is all they had,” says Luke, and Steve whispers something to convince Ms. Marvel of who he really is.  The television suddenly shows footage of Thor being taken down by the U-Foes and Dark Avengers,  and Steve uncharacteristically curses out loud.  As the situation becomes clear, Steve looks at Fury.  “How many more you got?” he asks, and Fury replies that they don’t have enough.  Bucky says the same when Steve asks how many Avengers are on board, but sternly tells everyone present that their numbers will have to do.  “Avengers Assemble!” cries the once and future Captain America…

So, herein lies my issue:  Even with greater powers, the villains (while creepy last issue) are treated completely as jokes.  Not only that, The Living Laser seems to have taken a power DOWNGRADE, since the last story I remember him being in allowed him to nearly kill Iron Man with all the tools at I.M.’s disposal.  Plus, he’s INTANGIBLE.  Jessica’s rage is a nice touch, and plays very genuine, and Spidey has a couple awesome bits of dialogue, but once again I have finished an issue of New Avengers feeling that the whole thing is incredibly padded.  Since this is part two of two, there isn’t even the usual excuse of “writing for the trade” to fall back on, either.  What we have is an issue that just really doesn’t have anything to it.  Breaking the story where we did gave us a big cliffhanger in#61, but #62 is a complete anti-climax, as Spider-Woman quickly breaks Mandrill’s hold (something that the Valkyrie’s godlike nature couldn’t do twenty years ago, mind you), Luke punches out the Laser, and Controller is nowhere to be found.  Honestly, the issue is nothing but a vehicle for the Nick Fury/Steve Rogers reunion, and the moment where the New A’s head out for Oklahoma to get involved in the Asgard situation.  I’m not sure how the presence of a costumed Steve in Iron Man (which seems to lead directly into Siege) ties in with this, either.  Either way, the whole package is just okay, as Stuart Immonen gives us some interesting fighty-fighty, a beautiful Jessica Drew, but makes Ms. Marvel and Ronin/Hawkeye seem to be about 19 years old, and the coloring is just muddy enough to bother me.  New Avengers #62 earns a slightly disappointing (but less hella creepy than last time) 2 out of 5 stars overall, as the nicely handled Steve/Nick and Steve/Carol moments were undermined by a “Why is this happening?” plot that took up the bulk of the issue…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Since she has been off the playing field since 1982, and all of the stories since her revival were revealed to be the work of Skrulls, what basis (if any) do you think Marvel has for insisting that Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew should be a major player?

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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8 Comments

  1. ~wyntermute~
    February 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm — Reply

    This issue is like what comes out of The (Little Red Riding) Hood’s guns: A MAGIC BULLET~! Wocka wocka wocka. ^_^ My favorite segment was Spidey’s “We’ve just had a crazy day.. *sees Steve and Nick* Okay, so your day was crazier” moment. I do not feel properly edjumacated to answer the Spider-Woman conundrum beyond the following: She, like HankPym (yes, it’s one word to me), is getting a free character rehab/makeover since her recent history _wasn’t_ her own. That’s a pretty generic statement, so I hope people who are long-time marvelites can give better ‘answers’. The End.

  2. MaximusRift
    February 27, 2010 at 10:53 pm — Reply

    What basis? How about the new “I’m writing nearly 50% of all Marvel titles and I’m the EiC’s buddy so I can do whatever the hell I want” rule? ;p

  3. Ben Gebhart
    February 28, 2010 at 1:05 am — Reply

    Honestly, there really isn’t a basis anymore, thanks to “Secret Invasion”.

    Thing is, Bendis already did this once before, shoving Spider-Woman onto an Avengers team out of the blue, obviously just because he had a fanboy-crush on her. Whatever, what was done was done, and then he had all that time to build Jessica’s backstory within that “Origin” mini, and give her some spotlight in the “New Avengers” book.

    The whole purpose of the mini was to unclutter Spider-Woman’s backstory, and a BIG part of the early “New Avengers” books was to prove to nay-sayers that she was worthy of the role. Finally, I really felt as if people were starting to care about her, after her large part in the beginning of “Secret Invasion”, before the Skrull reveal. Bendis threw ANY goodwill he brought to the character when she was revealed to be the Skrull Queen, and then Spider-Woman was right back at the beginning, only now she has a screwed-up present to match her past.

    Not too wise a plan, I must say. How are we supposed to become involved with a character’s story and journey, when it’s just non-stop death/resurrection/swerve/shocking-reveal, one after another for the past five years or so?

    “Heroic Age” REALLY needs to live-up to what Marvel is promissing, because the car-crash-inducing speed at which this shit has been happening just boggles the mind.

    …I just went on a rant. I apologize. >:)

  4. Brother129
    February 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm — Reply

    Any theories about what Steve Rogers was whispering in Ms. Marvel’s ear? I too, was annoyed by yet another continuity gaffe. Don’t forget that the New Avengers annual references the Avengers’ reunion with Steve and it doesn’t play out like it does here in this issue. You would think that the guy who wrote ALL THREE FREAKIN’ BOOKS could somehow avoid this….

    • February 28, 2010 at 9:22 pm — Reply

      Any theories about what Steve Rogers was whispering in Ms. Marvel’s ear? I too, was annoyed by yet another continuity gaffe.

      I suspect it had something to do with her rapid pregnancy and the birth of her son in Avengers #200, but that’s because I’m old-skool.

      • Alex Jay Berman
        March 1, 2010 at 1:11 am — Reply

        Speaking of which … am I the only one who remains creeped out by that? I mean, she was seduced by this mystery guy (and possibly mind-controlled to boot), gets knocked up, goes through a twelve-minute gestation, whereupon she gives birth … to the creepy mystery guy.

        (Can I get an “Ewwww …” from the congregation?)

        What was weirder was that in the Kang War at the end of Busiek’s Avengers run, up pops a version of Marcus again, but this time, he’s Kang’s kid–and there’s still an attraction between him and his alt-mom-slash-lust object.

        Once again … “Ewwww …”

  5. Alex Jay Berman
    February 28, 2010 at 7:23 pm — Reply

    Well, there ARE several bases for the revamp.

    One, quite simply, is the costume. Though allowing for full coverage, the hourglass design all but screams, “Look at my girlie bits!” … which, considering the general makeup of the group which reads tights-n-fights books, is simply canny marketing.
    Irwin Donenfeld may have discovered that putting gorillas on the cover meant the book would sell more, but if you take out the apes and put in some sweater monkeys, that puppy’s gonna SELL! Further, the splash of red that her costume provides makes the covers pop, especially in these days of muted and muddied coloring (which should not be taken as a criticism of coloring these days; often as not, the palettes of a Laura Martin or Matt Hollingsworth improves the pencil-and-ink art immeasurably, sometimes even saves it).

    Next, the Avengers of late are something of a sausagefest; the Wasp is dead, Black Widow’s busy in Captain America and her own books, She-Hulk’s off being brutalized in Fall of the Hulks, Scarlet Witch is off at the Bova Ford Rehab Clinic, Ms. Marvel’s only character development will come in her own book (and really was only interesting during Busiek’s arc on her alcoholism), Jessica Jones is a stay-at-mansion mom, Crystal’s somewhere in space singing “It’s a … nice day for a … Kree wedding …”, Mockingbird is never going to be more than a few panels of kicking ass and spying names and being angry at Clint Barton for Hawkeye’s Dumb Action Number #11567, Tigra’s getting ready to start nursing green milk, and second-raters like Mantis, Sersi, Diamondback, and others simply aren’t worth consideration.

    Lastly, the concept of intellectual property and film possibilities have to be raised. The higher-profile Marvel can make Spider-Woman, the more likely it will be for Marvel Studios to sell the idea of a movie about her, thus cementing their hold over all films Spider.

  6. Alvarlux
    March 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm — Reply

    1) I’d assume Spider-woman defeated the mandrill mind control by countering with her own pheromone based powers.

    2) You didn’t mention the awesome reason Luke Cage had to show up – his baby’s favorite soother got left behind.

    3) The 3 versions of Capt leading into Siege annoyed me too.

    They need to slow down on the “Events”. Iron man/Tony Stark still isn’t fully functional but they’ve already seemed to pass over that, X-men arc Necrosha isn’t over, but they’ve all moved on to Second Coming anyway (cept for poor X-force left to clean up another mess and arc)

    I enjoy a good cross over as much as the next comic book lover but when everyone has to cater to a single guy’s racing nerdgasm fanfic made real, the whole universe starts to suffer.

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