ďRonin Ė Part twoĒ
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: David Finch (p), Danny Miki (i), Frank DíArmata (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
ďFor the time being the game [concerning Roninís identity] between writer and readers seems quite a fun diversion, but I doubt that it can carry an arc all on its own - and if things donít move on considerably next issue, then I could see readers getting fairly bored fairly fast with the mystery element thatís at play here.Ē
Thatís what I wrote in my last review of this title, and Iíll be damned if this book hasnít let me down again. This wonít be a long review, because thereís not much more to say about this issue than I said last time - and thatís because the story barely moves. In this issue, the New Avengers find themselves in no jeopardy at all, and up against easily-assailable odds, ripping through a group of ninjas that would frankly be cannon-fodder for any one of the heroes in a solo adventure. Although artist Finch provides some good visuals - and thereís certainly enough eye-candy to distract you for a while (although there are some equally muddy panels too) - there really isnít enough meat here to fill out half an issue, let alone a whole comic book. Sure, there are a couple of nice moments: the Luke Cage/lift sequence is a fun, if overlong gag; the Spider-Woman revelation adds some intrigue to her character, even if it has taken 9 issues to develop this plot strand; and the banter between Spidey and the other heroes as Captain America tries to crack wise during the battle is entertaining enough to read, although it goes on too long to really feel fresh or fun. Are you sensing a theme here?
One of Bendis' growing weaknesses as a writer seems to be that he can't finish a story as strongly as he can begin one. His first issues are generally excellent, but as arcs progress, it gets increasingly evident that he's taking an idea and stretching it as far as it can go. It started to afflict his stellar run on Daredevil during that titleís "Golden Age" and "Decalogue" arcs, and it's been true for "Sentry" and "Ronin" so far in New Avengers too. With any intrigue surrounding the big identity-reveal of Ronin all but dissipated after this issue, and another hollow cliffhanger to set up another empty battle next month, thereís still not much to recommend this book. I like the art, and I like the novelty of some of the ideas which Bendis has brought to the book, but everything feels so stretched-out and inconclusive that, even as a fan of both characters and writer in the past, Iím seriously considering dropping the book. If this is nu-Marvel at work, then someone needs to reconsider the company ethos: this is not what a modern comic book should be.
(Although, praise be Ė this is the only Marvel book I bought this week that doesnít feature a massive two-page car ad directly after the recap page. Small mercies, I guess.)
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