Friday, July 25, 2014

'The New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 3' trade review

When the Green Goblin gets restless, things get ugly.

In the case of the third volume of Brian Michael Bendis' NEW AVENGERS, Norman Osborn goes evil. And that's when Marvel Comics and the New Avengers -- the team's creator, Bendis, -- are at their best.

As I've mentioned in the previous incarnation of CCC, I equate myself as a comics reader with being Kang the Conqueror. It's not because I'm a control freak (although I have my tendencies and have been accused of such a thing) with a serious sense of meglomania. Far from it! The reality is for the last five or so years I've been picking up Marvel and DC Comics trade paperbacks at random to read (through recommendations, availability, recent purchases and/or because that's what's available at my local library). So that means I find myself hoping in and out of continuity.

And if you can't tell already, you'll find that pattern (or is the lack of one!) to be why there will be random reviews of trades and issues from various eras of Marvel and DC here. ...

Back to the third volume of THE NEW AVENGERS (Nos. 16.1 and 17-23). At this point, Osborn has been imprisoned at Ryker's Island Maximum Security Penitentiary for his crimes as the leader of the SHIELD replacement agency, H.A.M.M.E.R. Just before he's transferred off "The Raft" and to be tried in an international criminal court, he gets visited by his Green Goblin persona. As the New Avengers attempt to escort Osborn out of the facility, he squirrels his way out of their custody -- and that's when things turn ugly -- and the story gets rolling.

Artist Neal Adams does the art for the first issue while Mike Deodato handles the remaining ones. Adams is nowhere near the quality artists he was in his prime decades ago, but he's still a master of drawing facial expressions. Adams also hasn't lost a step at depicting gorgeous women with curves in all the right places, specifically Victoria Hand and Ms. Marvel. (And given all that, I still say Adams is still far superior to most artists doing work now in their primes!)

While Adams' specialties are expressions and well, booties, Deodato excels at action sequences and drawing a very sexy Hand. She is as important to this story as Osborn is since the New Avengers have a hard time discerning if she's on their side or Osborn's. Hand, Osborn's right-hand woman in H.A.M.M.E.R., shines the most in these issues. In fact, Bendis had me enjoying her thoroughly and had me mourning her passing, which happens later in this series (Vol. 5, if I remember correctly).

Without ruining a nearly 3-year-old story, let's just say the way Bendis handles Miss Hand and makes her the key to the events in this storyline is nothing short of brilliant. Like me, this will have you dig and appreciate her character if you hadn't already.

It's easy to consider Vol. 3 of THE NEW AVENGERS a retread of Bendis' DARK AVENGERS/"Dark Reign" stories and honestly it is. But I was really into the idea this time around; in fact, I enjoyed Osborn's new Dark Avengers much more than the previous team of misfits he put together. Maybe it's because the members of this incarnation can't stand each other and don't buy into Osborn's latest plan for revenge.That makes for some great tension.

The story feels fresh. Bendis really made me buy into the fact that Osborn has a serious desire to bring down and degrade the Avengers, New, original or otherwise.

Probably Bendis' biggest triumph is he gets to me to accept such usual Marvel solo acts as Daredevil, Iron Fist and Spider-Man as members of The Avengers. Those heroes gel this time instead of sticking out. That's pretty darn impressive for a writer who obviously is retreading his own idea. But when you do it and make it a delightful read, you can get away with it. Well done, sir! Grade: A

For a review of the second volume of THE NEW AVENGERS, go here. That review will include a link to an op-ed in which I'm vehement that not every Marvel Comics character needs to be an Avenger

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