Current Reviews


New Avengers #34

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2007
By: Bryant Frattalone

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Leinil Yu

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot: Wolvie battles The Hood. Doctor Strange sleeps around. Clint gets caught in the shower. Danny goes to “the Doctor”. The team regroups. Nobody is a Skrull. The Team jumps (literally) into another plotline.

Commentary: Sigh, why is it every time I write a review of this book I get this sitcom feel from it? Here’s the thing though. This book is becoming a guilty pleasure for me. I know I’m going to be annoyed with it at times but somehow Bendis keeps injecting stuff that makes me come back. Maybe the ink is spiked? I mean just read my “plot” synopsis above. A lot is going on this issue but it still feels like nothing has really happened. Maybe it’s just the underlying format of Bendis’s team writing style, mainly, people standing around and talking a lot. He focuses on blips of character moments that don’t seem to contribute much to the overall story. A prime example is Echo catching Clint in the shower. I think the readership as a whole is getting tired of Bendis’s juvenile antics. This is what turned me off of Mighty Avengers, though I may pick that up after this issue’s ending. All the potty humor and distracted thinking in the thought balloons over on that title just turned me off. So what is it that keeps me coming back? I know this review is becoming as disjointed as Bendis’s writing style so let me focus here.

The way The Hood fought Wolverine was well done. At the end of last issue I commented, “What can this panty waste in a red riding hood possibly do to Wolverine?” Well, the obvious answer is given here. Fight damned dirty! Parker literally shoots Logan where the sun doesn’t shine. These are the moments when I like Bendis. He gets creative and applies twisted logic in the comic book context. If you were an average Joe with a gimmick for powers you would have to fight dirty to even hope to come out alive against this guy. Bendis then does a surprise reveal regarding the Hood and his powers that even takes Wolvie back. The Hood escapes by the skin of his teeth but Bendis’s handling of him this issue makes me curious to know more about a character I first perceived as lame.

I also liked Spidey’s (and by extension I believe this is Bendis’s personal dig at the Marvel Universe in general these days) comment about having a villain other than Tony Stark for the team to fight. Amen to that! Let’s get back to the heroes of this Universe fighting some classic villains. Bendis and Yu do a subtle nice touch with Strange’s manservant Wong appearing with a bowl of water and towels so that Logan can cleanse his bullet wounds. Wong might not say much (thankfully because there are enough wisecrackers on this team) but these types of things make his presence known. He’s great as the New Avengers’ Jarvis. Yu’s art is a plus for me as usual. Since he’s been given more to do than pages and pages of ninjas his pencils have been great. The cover made me go, “huh?” but it also got me interested enough to buy the book. Somehow I didn’t fear a time travel or doppelganger story from Bendis so I wanted to know why our heroes looked the way they did on the cover. The answer provided by Dr. Strange’s spiritual operation on this motley crew was satisfactory and it did help the story move on from the bickering and infighting over who’s a skrull. The two page spread is a hoot for nostalgia fans. I especially enjoyed the vision of Luke in his old Hero for Hire/Power Man threads with the chain for a belt and the kinky hair, as he says, “I can live with it.” Me too! Clint’s inner drive having to do with Captain America is welcome also since he’s the only one I can really see filling Caps shoes if it’s ever done. A little more explanation regarding Dr. Strange’s manifestation would be welcome.

Bendis does this sometimes and it’s irksome. He’ll have the characters do or say something and he assumes that his audience is in on the joke or knows what he means. That is not always the case. Strange’s “totem”, for lack of a better word, appears over his head as himself in a suit and tie and two characters off panel say, “Hey is that..?” “Let’s just let it go.” “Oh, sorry.” What does any of that mean in context to what is going on now or what’s gone on before? I sure don’t know. We jump to yet another plotline at issues end leaving the Skrull and Hood plots behind for now, or so it seems. Does Bendis plan on tying this all together ever? I for one (and I’m sure many others) would like some resolution to the Raft, Ultron, Skrull, Deathlok and now Hood and Venom storylines. Do it fast Bendis. Good moments here and there and pretty art can only hold our attention for so long.

Final Word: Bendis continues to attract and annoy at the same time while Yu’s art gets better with every issue. This book with all its faults continues to cast a spell over us comics readers. Whether Bendis gives us a big and satisfactory payoff for our time is yet to be seen.

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