REVIEW: New Avengers #11

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Or – “They Really Kind Of Are The Defenders, Aren’t They?”

New Avengers started out with tons of potential and a roster of pretty cool heroes (and Ms. Marvel.)  Things went downhill quickly with the murder of Doctor Voodoo in the name of cool cliffhangers, and we seemingly now have the team in the particularly silly role of ‘proactive superhero strikeforce’ that we’ve seen so often (and that I’ve only seen work once.)  How does this issue stack up?

NEW AVENGERS #11
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Deodato & Howard Chaykin
Colorist: Rain Beredo & Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
Editor: Tom Brevoor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on New Avengers: A stakeout gone horribly wrong has led to unseen consequences:  In an attempt to try and catch minor-league super-criminal Superia, Mockingbird has taken a couple of slugs in the chest (or possibly somewhere else, the artist has changed) and the team is dealing with fallout.  Fifty years in the past, Nick Fury has assembled a group of mercenaries and adventurers under the auspices of ‘The Avengers Initiative.’  That this group contains a Wolverine analogue should surprise precisely no one…

Those Who Forget The Past…

I am trying as hard as I can not to be cynical about the whole Avengers Initiative thing, but the presence of Victor “Sabretooth” Creed here bothers me to no end.  We open with a somewhat off-putting scene as Mockingbird is rushed into an emergency room, while bystanders make fun of her name and the concept of the Avengers, while Spider-Man, the Thing and Doctor Strange stand about being useless.  I suspect that the sequence is designed to make us think about our powerlessness in the face of death and blah blah blah fishcakes, but what it does for me is make me remark how ridiculous Pete Parker looks in the company of professional men and women trying to save lives.  In the fifties, a team consisting of Nick Fury, Silver Sable (the father of the current pretty one), Sabretooth, Kraven the Hunter, Dominic Fortune and Namora prepare for their mission, an assault on the latest outpost belonging to the Red Skull!  That their mission is a proactive thingy that parallels the New Avengers contemporary adventure is not lost on me, but I still don’t like the implicit Wolverine-worship in creating the “first” team of Avengers and making sure that he (or his non-union Mexican equivalent) was represented.

…Are Doomed To Repeat It.

In the wake of the battle, the team struggles to regroup, and Ms. Marvel charmingly takes away one thing from a mission that may have cost her teammate’s life:  Her pride is hurt that they lost to Superia.  SERIOUSLY? That’s what you’re upset about, obvious female Hal Jordan analogue?  Bobbi’s bleeding out, and you’re butt-hurt that you might have lost status in the superhero community?  Oy.  One interesting bit, though, is that Superia’s minion army consists of the former agents of H.A.M.M.E.R., Norman Osborn’s storm trooper force from Dark Reign.  The switching back and forth of the art of Deodato and Chaykin is a bit of a sticking point as well.  Both artists do lovely work this time ’round, but switching back and forth is jarring.  It does, however, clearly delineate the difference between past and future settings, though, which is a plus.  The issue ends with an odd cameo in the past, and Victoria Hand realizing that she’s caught between a rock and a hard place, with her team no longer trusting her due to her own old H.A.M.M.E.R. ties.

The Verdict:  Doomed To Repeat Somethin’, Anyway…

It has been three months now since Mockingbird was shot, and about twenty minutes or so has taken place in the lives of the New Avengers since that happened.  At the same time, Nick Fury’s past mission has advanced several days, possibly even weeks, making it difficult to remember where last issue ended up and the things that happened in between.  Add to that the fact that pretty much nothing happens in the present story this month, and you have a recipe for a very blah reading experience.  Taking into account that my favorite part of the story seems inextricably tied to corporate world-building synergy (setting up the Avengers Initiative just in time for it to be in continuity when the movie comes out) and I’m not really excited about this book.  That’s a real shame, because this was the Avengers title that I expected would be my favorite of the four monthlies (and let’s not even discuss whether or not there’s a need for four monthly Avengers titles anyway.)  All in all, New Avengers #11 is the equivalent of a musical scale with a couple of sour notes, earning a disappointing 2 out of 5 stars overall. Maybe I’m still just bitter about Brother Voodoo, but I find myself wavering on whether to continue reading this title…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Am I being unreasonable about this whole Sabretooth thing?  After all, I find the inclusion of Sergei Kraven to be ingenius…