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New Avengers #21

Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2006
By: David Wallace



ďNew Avengers Disassembled: Part One of FourĒ

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Howard Chaykin, Dave Stewart (colours)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


This doesnít really feel like an issue of New Avengers. In some ways, thatís definitely a good thing, as the cracks have been beginning to show in Brian Bendisí pet title for some time now. However, the decision to concentrate on only one character leaves this issue feeling more like a Captain America one-shot comic than a true issue of an ongoing Avengers book, especially when itís the first part of a story which promises to ďdisassembleĒ the nascent team due to divisions over the subject of superhero registration. Yes, Civil War hits the New Avengers this issue, and the result is yet another plugging of story gaps, along the lines of the Front Line miniseries, this time dealing with exactly how Captain America got his resistance movement started.

Itís a fairly straightforward story which doesnít explain the background of Civil War (a recap page is the only concession for uninitiated readers) but fills in one of the gaps between Civil War #1 and #2. Cap is shown escaping the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers who are hunting down rogue heroes, stumbling into one of Nick Furyís old hideouts, hooking up with the Falcon, and heading out to recruit other heroes to his cause. Itís not much of a plot, truth be told, especially when any sense of tension has been eradicated by prior knowledge of which heroes have taken which sides, and how Capís resistance movement is shown to turn out in Civil War #2. That said, Howard Chaykinís art keeps things interesting, with a rough, scrappy feel reflecting the wartime mentality which is exemplified by Capís inner monologue under Bendisí pen.

The characterisation of Cap might not stray too far from the norm, but the slightly rougher edge given to him in this issue suggests that the stakes are going to be pretty high when he does meet up with Iron Man for their inevitable showdown. Even if the dialogue between him and the Falcon does suggest more of a sense of sadness and loss of friendship than anger at Starkís betrayal (despite Sam Wilsonís constant cries of Sellout), Iím eager to see the two figureheads clash, and this issue shows that Cap isnít afraid to hurt his former friends, via a cool fight scene with Hank Pym.

If all four parts of this ďarcĒ are as self-contained as this, then weíre in for a less coherent disassembling (disassemblage?) of the team than Iíd hoped for. However, the concentration on a single character gives Bendis the chance to flex his characterisation muscles a lot more effectively, and as such, these issues might be some of the most significant yet for that exact reason. Non-Civil War followers will be likely to be left cold by the storyline, which assumes a lot of prior knowledge on the part of the reader, but such complaints will surely only affect a minority of the titleís readership. Like Civil War: Front Line, this is another solid satellite title to the core Civil War book. Just donít expect a fantastic story in its own right.



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