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…

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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11 Comments

  1. johnny
    April 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm — Reply

    I also think Kraven is a genius pick for that team, but my question about Sabretooth, is if they wanted a Wolverine, why didn’t they just go get Wolverine? He was kicking around the Marvel U by then.

  2. matt
    April 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm — Reply

    I dropped New Avengers with this issue actually. I can’t get past how bad the art is. It reminded me of a Mad Magazine spoof of an actual avengers comic.

  3. ray
    April 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm — Reply

    Where did you see the proactive approach work? The only one that I’ve seen, but it’s a new title, is Uncanny X-force.

    • April 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm — Reply

      Where did you see the proactive approach work?

      I was referring to Cable’s original lineup of X-Force back in the 90’s, and by “work” I meant “catch the audiences attention for more than 30 seconds.”

  4. SenorEjaz
    April 18, 2011 at 5:08 am — Reply

    I hate to be ‘one of those people’ but I’ve started swearing off all of Bendis’ books. I feel it’s got to the point where Marvel’s willing to let him do whatever he wants with no editorial control whatsoever. (I’ve no idea of this is true). He’s generally good at initial concepts but terrible at their execution – bad plotting and pacing (Disassembled, House of M, Secret Invasion, Siege). A bizarre emphasis on characters that are one trick-ponies (the Hood, Wolverine, Ms Marvel etc). I also have no idea why it’s seems ok for him to just dump retcons willy-nilly whenever he feels a ‘cool idea’ has popped into his head (The Beyonder is an inhuman?). I don’t normally mind retcons so much being a youngster who didn’t read the stories in the first place, but this Nick Fury’s Proto-Avengers one is lame if not moronic. At least this one isn’t messing up other people’s stories though.
    If this seems like a rant I apologise but Bendis’ work has started to annoy me, when is his iron grip on the Avengers going to be pried loose? If you’re reading Matthew, I’d be interested in your opinion of Bendis’ work in general as the comics historian in attendance. Oh and I respect your opinion on stuff.

    • Eddie Sheridan
      April 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm — Reply

      SenorEjaz, I could not agree with you more. Granted, I know Bendis has gotten most of his acclaim for Ultimate Spider-Man, but with me never being much of a fan of teenage Peter Parker I never even got into that. In my opinion, New Avengers has been a train wreck ever since Bendis took over. His obsession with characters like Luke Cage and The Hood has just been bizarre. The story arcs are usually not very interesting, and he fills nearly every issue mostly with panel after panel of heroes standing around making Seinfeld-esque quips. And I know it’s not his fault, but Marvel has got to get some control over the over-exposure of its characters. So Spidey and Ben are on both the New Avengers and Future Force? Even in comic book reality, it’s ridiculous to try and believe Spider-Man can be in so many places at the same time these days. I think it’ll be a great day for Marvel when Bendis is finally taken off this title for good. I just hope he doesn’t completely screw up the new Moon Knight series, too.

      • Noobian74
        April 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm — Reply

        I don’t mind the focus on characters that aren’t as major as the others. Luke Cage deserves some working-class superhero love. The Hood? Could take it or leave it, but he was handled better than expected. Moon Knight (what is ths, Volume 5 or 6) needs to be done by somebody like Brad Meltzer or another crime novelist. Marvel needs to be careful with that property. Seriously.

  5. Noobian74
    April 18, 2011 at 9:36 am — Reply

    I like Bendis, but I’m not a fan of how he writes story arcs that can’t be resolved in 4 issues or less. I’m still trying to figure out which one is longer: his Daredevil storylines or I-95!
    New Avengers 7 was the best one. Why? Simple. i like it the same way I like my women: short and sweet.
    Sabretooth? Mexican equivalent? Hilarious! Truth be told, I’m glad they didn’t get Wolverine. for a little guy, he sure is spread thin in the Marvel Universe. Surprised he’s not in the Future Foundation.

    • TaZ
      April 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm — Reply

      Logan’s not in the Future Foundation because it’s in his contract his costume has to include black and orange or yellow (stealing “Fang’s” Timberwolf togs way back during the Brood War doesn’t count).

      Seriously, I’m in with those of you panning Bendis’ work on this, the art, etc. From the first it didn’t make sense to me to have Spiderman and Wolverine on both Mighty and New Avengers. It also doesn’t make sense to have a “proactive” team when Steve Rogers has already set up a “black ops” group that would be much better for that, the Secret Avengers. I was actually hoping for more of a “Defenders” feel from this group with the New Avengers staying close to home in NYC and the “big boys team” doing more nation and world wide threat handling. Spiderman, Wolverine and Ben Grimm would work better with the New Avengers group because of their history and ties with Luke Cage.

      Another thought that caused me to toss this title. Why the heck would a highly trained former SHIELD agent, martial arts master and someone that ran around with Hawkeye not have kelvar or another type of body armor in their uniform? It’s nothing new as Paladin, Batm(e)n, Robin, Red Robin and pretty much anyone else without a tin suit, invunerable skin or other power set have adopted that as standard equipment. I guess she was the only one in the group that COULD be shot, which isn’t very good writing.

      As far as the Avengers Initiative back-story I was kind of guessing this was coming after the “Marvels” series, not just the Movie series (in which Nick Fury isn’t old or white enough to be Sergeant Fury and the route that the movies are taken is more like the Avengers current animated series). It’s kind of hokey, actually. Why would someone put together a team of this caliber, even for “black ops” stuff when you have so many of the old Timely heroes and the heroes from the continuity resulting from the Invaders series and the retcons of the All-Winners Squad as well as Agents of Atlas? Plus, Dominic Fortune’s costume just looks plain stupid.

      Yet another Marvel Comic gets struck from my “buy” list.

      • Noobian74
        April 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm — Reply

        I was looking for this title to be more of the everyman book for superheroes. I liked the fact that they made Wolverine the person to attack Agamotto. Spider-Man not getting a check made sense to me, too. These were the little things that I liked about the series. Wanting shorter storylines doesn’t mean I’m impatient, but you don’t have to make a comic ready-made for trade paerback. If you work it right, that’ll take care of itself.

        I KNEW something was bothering me about the treatment of Mockingbird. She got shot? It was that easy? Fine, I understand that with vibranium being no more (aka the de-clawing of the Black Panther), they can’t get a vibranium mesh outfit to ast as kevlar for the team, but no protection at all? C’mon!

  6. Damascus
    May 16, 2011 at 5:23 am — Reply

    Is it just me, or were all the Avengers books better before they ended them and relaunched to what we have now. Hate them or love them, I really liked a fairly long run there in Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Initiative and Dark Avengers right up to the point when they ended all the series, relaunched New and Mighty, rebranded Initiative to Academy (sort of), dropped Dark Avengers (for obvious reasons), added Secret Avengers and none of them apart from Academy have been all that good. Secret has had a few moments, but that’s more for some of the characters for me.

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