REVIEW: Avengers Annual #1

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Or – “There’s No Kill Like Overkill…”

TVTropes.org defines the term “Lampshade Hanging as “the writers’ trick of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief…by calling attention to it and then moving on.”

Well, at least they got us halfway there…

NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Gabriele Dell’Otto
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Letter: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously, in Avengers Annual:  There came a day like none other, when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes came together to defend our world against the menace of Loki!  And then, they branched out to the point where dang near everybody is an Avenger in one form or another.  In New Avengers Annual #1 last year, Simon “Wonder Man” Williams assembled a coterie of second bananas, also-rans, has-beens and wanna-bes, and ambushed the New Avengers in their mansion.  His army (consisting of Anti-Venom, Atlas, Captain Ultra, Century, D-Man, Devil-Slayer, Ethan Edwards, and Goliath) dubbed themselves ‘The Revengers’ (Neal Adams immediately called his lawyer) and swept in like Sherman through Georgia, razing Avengers Mansion in the process before setting off for the distant shores of Manhattan and Avengers Tower?  Why?  Your guess would be just as good as mine..

SOUND? MEET FURY!

Honestly, Simon’s motivation makes sense in theory:  The Avengers need to disband because they do more harm that good.  Unfortunately, there are three big holes in his logic:  We, the omnipotent readers, see everything that happens, and aren’t going to be subject to the same doubts that the general public of the Marvel Universe might be.  Secondly, his ranting and raving immediately marks him as a lunatic super-villain.  And finally, he left some of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Universe lying in the rubble of their home with absolutely no provocation whatsoever.  This issue identifies itself as taking place before Fear Itself #1, which helps with some of the issues I had with last issue’s writing.  Gabriele Dell’Otto’s art is less stiff than in N.A.A. #1, but the finished art feels cruder, making it feel rushed to my eye.  Simon and his goons attack Avengers Tower, causing the combined forces of New, Secret and Adjectiveless Avengers to swarm to the building’s defense, allowing Wonder Man and his cronies to…

…call a press conference?

ANY GUESSES ON WHAT THEY SIGNIFY?

Throughout the issue, multiple character remark on how wacky Simon’s ideas are, but the really damning bit for me comes in the fact that Bendis just wrote pretty much this whole sequence, only featuring Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers…   Iron Man takes down Wonder Man in a split-second, and Thor teleports the villains away, undercutting any menace that their property damage might have created with the previous issue.  Adding insult to injury (and making the New Avengers look like a bunch o’ putzes too boot), The Avengers take their evil counterparts down in moments.  The rest of the issue sets up a media firestorm of mistrust of the Avengers (AGAIN?), gives us the motivations of the Revengers (a couple of them are pretty cool, especially Ethan Edwards’ and D-Man’s), and sets up an interesting character piece between Wonder Man and The Beast wherein Simon reveals that he’s “probably not even real.”  Tying Wonder Man’s resurrection in Avengers V.3 to Scarlet Witch’s later madness is interesting, but only in a “bend everything to fit my story’s will” sort of way.  Moreover, the issue ends not only ambiguously, but with ANOTHER cliffhanger…

THE VERDICT: OVER-PRICED AT HALF THE COST…

I suspect that this issue (and it’s predecessor) were created with the though that people would jump at the chance to see the team behind Secret War working together again, but Secret War, for all it’s faults, had more story behind it than this.  At $4.99 for 25 pages of story, I’m already miffed, but $4.99 for the second half of a four-month-old story, one which has already been essentially duplicated in New Avengers, not to mention negated by Fear Itself?  Stick a fork in this one, because I’m about done.  Avengers Annual #1 is nothing more than another Brian Bendis “Why SHOULD the public trust the heroes?” tale, covering ground which was done to death long before the first half of this story came out, earning a disdainful 1 out of 5 stars overall.  If Marvel editorial wants to address the reality of their characters, that’s fine, but you can’t keep asking the same rhetorical question over and over without either answers or anything new to say about it…

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Do you think anyone at Marvel understands that, by creating stories that repeatedly undermine their characters, they’re actually undermining their own PRODUCT?