Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Avengers #1

Review by Paul Steven Brown

New Avengers #1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Stuart Immonen w/ Wade Von Grawbadger & Laura Martin
Published by Marvel Comics

Other than a desire to generate more buzz and increase sales, there isn’t any need for Marvel Comics to restart New Avengers with a new number one. The previous incarnation of this series ran 64 issues and this book picks up on a plot that ran in the volume. Heck, it’s basically the same cast, plus the Thing, and the same creative team. Given Marvel Comics’ recent practices, I can see the numbering merged and New Avengers getting renumbered to #100 in about 35 issues.

The thing is, everything that I enjoyed about New Avengers continues on in this new volume. The main draw for me has always been Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. I love the way Brian Bendis writes them and I feel compelled to follow their marriage. According to some of the adverts, it would appear that Jess will be putting on her old costume and joining the team as Jewel again. While I like her as is, retired but still empowered, it will be interesting to see her balance being a mother and saving the world. If Luke can do it as a father, why can’t she?

I’m also happy to see Ms. Marvel retained, too. She works well with this particular cast (especially with Jessica) and it’s good to see one of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful and recognizable heroines on the frontlines despite the cancellation of her book. Cage’s best bud, Iron Fist, is back, too. I would read this book if Bendis had only Luke, Jessica, Carol, and Danny as the cast since their interplay is really great.

The introduction of the Thing to the team is an interesting idea. If Wolverine can be on three teams and several ongoing series a month (in this issue he acknowledges that multitasking is his mutant power), than the Thing should have no problems being in two. Speaking of Wolverine, why is it necessary that he, Spider-Man, and Hawkeye be on both Avengers squads? I can understand them being on the flagship Avengers book, since that’s the title with Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. That’s sort of the ‘greatest hits’ of the Marvel U. type of team. But why have them in New Avengers as well? At least Bendis is writing both books, so he should be able to balance it all.

As with Sharon Carter in Secret Avengers and Maria Hill in Avengers, Steve Rogers attaches a liaison officer to the New Avengers in the form of Victoria Hand. Hand is an interestingly complex character and I’m eager to see how she meshes with this team. Hopefully, they won’t beat the whole “you used to work for Norman Osborn” thing like a dead horse for too long.

Stuart Immonen continues as the books penciler, which is another reason that I had now problems with following New Avengers into another volume. His is a great crisp and clean style and he’s a solid storyteller. His characters look iconic and the facial acting is great. He’s backed up by inker Wade Von Grawbadger and colorist Laura Martin who help make this a fantastic looking superhero comic book.

Other than the New Avengers assembling and moving into their new home, the story picks up on the mystical thread involving Stephen Strange, Daimon Hellstrom, and Doctor Voodoo from the previous volume. I’m just happy that the Hood is nowhere to be seen. He was almost the star of the book for a number of years and I grew tired of that plot.

New Avengers isn’t a fresh start, but more of the same. That’s not a bad thing. I really liked the last series, so I’m glad to see that not much has changed.

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