Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Brilliance and Not-So-Much of New Avengers

I am as big a Marvel fan as they come when it comes to the PTP. Most of the books I read are Marvel, with the exception of some gems like Justice. One of my favorites month in and month out is New Avengers.

I was never a fan of the Avengers of old. I didn't quite understand how these guys could make up Marvel's greatest heroes with people like Wasp, any version of Hank Pym, Hawkeye, Tigra, War Machine, Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel, etc, etc. Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, even Hercules, were the only ones who could fit this bill because of their status as Marvel or other icons. The writing was always weak and cliche, and the changing roster did not seem to fully grasp the idea of 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes'. Then came Bendis and this idea for Avengers Disassembled. He knew that a book like this should be one of Marvel's biggest comics, no questions asked. He noticed that it wasn't, why it wasn't, and how he could change it up. With Avengers Disassembled, I found the first Avengers book I could enjoy. Finally, it seemed, someone was coming in and changing things for the better. Was the story convoluted and corny in places? Yes, but it was all for the better. I saw the promo image of the new squad and was hyped at the prospect of Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and Wolverine working together as a team. I knew I had myself a new contender for coolest comic book.

From the beginning I thought it was a great idea to have Spider-Man and Wolverine on as full members to the team. These two embody everything cool that the Marvel universe is. Did their inclusion mean that Marvel was jumping on board the 'have all of the big characters join' style of the Justice League in DC? Sure, but why shouldn't they do this? Spider-Man has long been a reserve member to the group and constantly works with them in his books and theirs. Basically he was already an Avenger, now he was just official. The biggest criticism with all of this has been of course Wolverine. One of the things I dislike about comics is that with so much promise, they consistently do things that hinder why lots of people do not take them seriously. These 2 HUGE topics can be discussed and argued in another post (coming soon to the PTP board near you), and they are as follows: Continuity and death. Wolverine suffers from a very convoluted continuity, as he appears in 2 solo books, Astonishing, and New Avengers. Would someone like to explain to me how this is at all possible? Thing is though, I got over it because of the sheer coolness it is of having Wolverine be on a different team interacting with different characters. Did anyone else think it was sweet when Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up as The New Fantastic Four? (which btw should be an ongoing monthly book post World War Hulk b/c that'd be too fuckin cool... But that is also a post for a different day)

The rest of the team was icing on the cake. Spider-Woman? Cool, I didn't know anything about her. Luke Cage? Always thought he was cool, I was pumped. The issues with them was too cool for words. Them breaking up a fight at The Raft? Fighting the Wrecker? The conspiracy with SHIELD? Ronin and all the damn ninjas? Sweet.

The Sentry? Not so much.

Wait a minute? What?

The problems began with Sentry. I loved the idea of this team having a Superman-level powerhouse on the team, and when he first appeared in the first issue, and first arc for that matter, it was sweet. But after the arc centering around him, he was never mentioned again. Wasn't he supposed to be a big part of this team? I only remember him being in that one arc before the end. This however was not the only problem.

Ronin was non introduced until the third arc, and we still never got to see her interact with the group other than that. Luke Cage had great banter with Spider-Man, but his voice was not being heard as promised. The pacing with who broke everyone out of the prison and the triple conspiracy Spider-Woman was not good, and reminded me a lot of Lost. I am not knocking Bendis by any means, but things really took a long time to explain and the idea of the group seemed to be better than the actual comic book. You remember the Xorn/Magneto issues? Or the recent #26 mindfuck? How about the baffling as hell explanation of The Sentry or trying to force Spider-Woman as a major character down our throats?

Basically this book suffered from being very hit-or-miss. Things picked up again with the Captain America and Luke Cage issues of New Avengers Disassembled. And with the recent release of #27, things are definitely on the rising. Iron Fist, a new Ronin, and Dr. Strange as Avengers with Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, and Luke Cage as the leader is fucking awesome. Here's to hoping that the talent stays up, and remains a force to be reckoned with, other than just looking pretty on the outside.


toothpick said...

yunno i complaing about this series but i still frequently pick it up. something about what bendis is doing perks my interest. i think the addition of the sentry was lame, as evidenced by his story arc which i think was the lowest low point of the series. every time bendis uses sentry it just seems like a bad imitation of another writer or another book.

i'm hyped for the new lineup though. i think bendis got screwed by civil war, but who knows, it might work out in his favour in the long run seeing as i find the new lineup even more interesting.

Melanism said...

I think New Avengers has suffered more than any other book from multiple crossovers and mini-series.

They were split up for House of M, they were split up for Civil War, they couldn't use Sentry until his mini-series was finished.

This book was just bad timing.

Hopefully they will fight as a unit when the Hulk comes back to kill everyone.