Or – “In Which My Personal Theory About Marvel Comics Becomes Clear…”
This weekend, during a conversation with co-worker Chris at Gatekeeper Hobbies (HUNTOON & GAGE, TOPEKA!), I realized something important about Marvel Comics in general (and Brian Bendis in particular):
They have a poor sense of time…
This theory came to me after reading the final issue of ‘Siege’ as it made it’s way to the back issue bin, and found the issue referring to itself as “An Event Seven Years In The Making!” Remember, we’re now in the era of ‘Shattered Heroes,’ which theoretically followed the gilded Heroic Age. The Heroic Age actually lasted nearly a year-and-a-half in the real world, and the creators have probably been working on the books for even longer. Why do I bring this up?
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously, in The Avengers: Since 2003, the Avengers have had at least half a dozen “fresh new starts,” with new lineups and new team members and such. Civil War actually splintered the team into TWO separate groups of Avengers, allowing for more than one fresh new lineup (often in the same month), and eventually we’ve come to the point where the Avengers franchise consists of four monthly titles about at least three individual teams, some of which share many of the same members. The last time an Avengers book made a big deal about a lineup change was a month or two ago, when the New Avengers added a couple of members (Daredevil and Squirrel Girl.) So, what makes anyone think that we need a big “Meet your NEW AVENGERS team (who aren’t the New Avengers, but in fact the Avengers who are New!” issue?
Poor. Sense. Of Time.
THE GUYS ON THE COVER? NOT THE NEW LINEUP…
Let’s start with the plus column: Daniel Acuna can draw like a mofo, and the book looks really good. The opening sequence builds on the flirtation between Clint “Hawkeye” Barton and Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew, while S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson interrogates the former U.S. Agent about Norman Osborn’s recent escape from his prison. In the man’s defense, said prison had been blown to smithereens less than three months ago by the Juggernaut, leaving a great big hole in the wall that I’m sure could be infiltrated by the crack strike team of Louie Anderson, Zach Gowen, Estelle Getty and myself. (I’m the debonair leader, while Tenacious Z is the confidence man, Louie the explosives expert and Estelle the muscle.) Warden Walker calls her on her crap, pointing out that the Avengers were on the scene and Osborn still got away, and before we know it, a third of the book is gone. After a brief moment between Captain America and Iron Man, we set off in search of the new Avengers!
AND I’M STILL NOT SURE WHO’S ON THE TEAM.
There’s a really lovely bit of character work that comes in the middle of the issue wherein Cap tries to recruit T’Challa, the Black Panther, but it all comes crashing down with one line of dialogue from the Panther: “You ARE in bad shape if I’m a friendly face…” When the story makes little sense (as this does, given that T’Challa’s exit from the Avengers a few years ago involved him being outed as a spy from the get-go, joining the team to protect his powerbase and spy on them), a writer simply cannot have the characters point that out IN THE STORY. Hell, the moment wherein John Walker shoots off his mouth earlier in the issue is really the same thing, and we get yet another such moment later in the issue (which I’ll get to in a moment.) The upshot of all this is that T’Challa suggests that the Avengers don’t need the King of Wakanda so much as they need the QUEEN…
…and that’s how Storm becomes an Avenger. Tony Stark performs a classic ass-pull moments later, revealing that he has rebuilt The Vision (Which begs the question of who is the guy over in Young Avengers) while Captain America brings Agent Johnson (aka ‘Quake’ from Secret War) onboard. The third puzzling “shot in the foot” moment comes as Captain America takes his team (Himself, Iron Man, Quake, Red Hulk, Storm, Spider-Woman, The Vision, The Protector ((UGH)) and Hawkeye) public, and Wolverine and Spider-Man question whether they’re still members. “They got their mutant and spider-person,” Wolverine grumbles, but I will lay down money right now that they both keep appearing in the book.
THE VERDICT: ACUNA SHINES, BENDIS TRIES…
The biggest problem with the issue comes in the big reveal at the end, as Norman Osborn interrupts the press conference with the intention of bringing it all crashing down. I recently dropped the New Avengers title after the truly AWFUL point-one issue, and I had hoped that the titles would not be intertwined in their pursuit of a THIRD shot at the Dark Avengers. Again, I’m sure the creators think it’s been long enough since the end of Dark Reign that it’s time for Osborn to take center stage as a villain, but for my money it clearly has not. No matter how lovely this issue is, it’s really only about ten pages of story (for FOUR BUCKS) padded out with a couple of long conversations. (This, by the way, is part two of the arc which promises to introduce the new team, an arc which the cynical part of me knows will be six issues long to fill the trade paperback.) All in all, Avengers #19 is mostly filler, well-drawn, but essentially same ol’, same ol’, earning a very disappointed 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Is ‘Deja Vu’ a good enough reason to stop reading a title?
About Matthew Peterson
Were pop culture a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Matthew still 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.