Plot: The Mighty Avengers avert disaster from the Venom Plague in NYC while Iron Man rockets and races to find a cure.
Commentary: Finally a halfway decent issue of Mighty Avengers due in no small measure to the arrival of new artist Mark Bagley. Iím confident this book will stay on time and on track at this point. Bagley has a proven track record for series longevity. Just look at his extended runs on books like Thunderbolts and of course Ultimate Spiderman. Iím hoping that the big two have figured out that the trend of recruiting talent from outside of this media itself is an experiment that more often than not has failed and not heightened readers expectations but diminished them. Is Frank Cho a good artist? Sure, for what he does. But, if he canít get a monthly book out on time what good is he? Bendis picks up the pace once again this issue in an effort to wrap up the lagging Venom Plague storyline and he makes a good go of it. We get classic superhero fisticuffs without the deluge on annoying thought balloons packed with juvenile and suggestive comments. The Mighty Avengers have finally started behaving like the worldís premiere superhero team and not like a bad college fraternity or sorority movie.
Speaking of characterization and heroism, Bendis turns the spotlight on Iron Man this issue as he exhibits the most competent leadership and use of his scientific genius since Civil War. The scenes of him hacking into the Baxter Building and commandeering Mr. Fantasticís lab to find a cure for the Venom plague are the best in the book. While he does this he contemplates his recent pressures as head of SHIELD and being an Avenger as well ask the whole Skrull mess. Tony is shown here as both competent and vulnerable. His testimony as a hero is renewed as he works past the baggage in his life to save a city. I found myself for the first time in a long time cheering for The Golden Avenger. A slight peeve I have with these pages however is Dave Lanphearís and Justin Ponsor and Stephanie Peruís use of font and colors for the computer text generated by Iron Manís armor. Green lettering over a yellow background just doesnít work guys. It was hard to read.
Art wise Bagley turns in his usual fun and competent renderings of our favorite heroes but its still not his best work. I can see the pressures of trying to get this book back on course as Marvel brings in multiple inkers and some of Bagleyís linework and anatomy is a bit skewed. Iím confident weíll see his usual A game in the next few issues. There is a particular humorous use of a venomized cocker spaniel this issue that the art team brings to warped and amusing life. I was despairing whether Bendis could really right a superhero team book. This issue shows that he can demonstrating a much better pace for what an Avengers story should be as well as the heroic characterizations we expect from well; heroes! Marvel has always given their characters human foibles but the first six issues of this series almost turned those flaws into parody. If Bendis can continue with the balance and energy heís shown the last two issues my hope in him for the Avengers will be restored. If he falls back on his juvenile antics and horrid use of thought balloons I may consider investing in a more consistently good product over Bendisís hit or miss story telling. Next issue is the big confrontation with Doctor Doom. Bendis please donít drop the ball there. You have an A-List team and an A-list villain, give us an A-list story!
Final Word: Bendis and Bagley deliver the goods in action and characterization as they tie up loose ends in the Avengers.
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