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New Avengers #40

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2008
By: Ariel Carmona Jr.

Brian Michael Bendis
Jim Cheung
DC Comics
This comic gives the reader something a lot of Bendis penned comics have lacked in the past: a fun and interesting feel following up on the events of Secret Invasion #1 which builds up on the Skrull's interesting history.

The intergalactic history of Marvel's alien races has a long running tradition and Bendis milks it for all it's worth in order to set up the current storyline. That the Avengers are hardly present in this comic should not be a source of great consternation considering the rich, complex and detailed back story we are treated to here.

One also doesn't have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Skrull-Kree conflict or the myriad other plot lines which have involved the Skrulls throughout the years in order to understand their machinations or their motivations to invade Earth. That's what wikipedia and one shots like the recent Secret Invasion Saga are for.

Also, there is some stunning artwork by Jim Cheung who does an astonishing job of rendering the Skrulls and their throne world. I had grown accustomed to Leinel Yu's unique artistic style which was regularly featured on this title, but his sketchy style is not well suited for this story arc where the sneaky, shape shifting adversaries have to be clearly defined and whose facial expressions this issue revealed so much about their treatment of humans. I also enjoyed the choice of hues which colorist Justin Ponsor employs to render the Skrull world and their surroundings. There's a real cinematic sense of grandeur to the panels in this comic with some scenes depicting frantic actions, while others merely advance the plot, sometimes without the benefits of captions or word balloons.

I donít often give colorists their due in my reviews, choosing to focus on writing because that is what I do, but they are an integral part of every book. Here Ponsor chooses to forgo the usual palate of murky tones and infuses this issue with an interesting mix of purple and scarlet landscapes which really goes far in conveying a sense of being in a foreign world and which harkens back to illustrated science fiction tomes of years past.

Given Bendis' propensity for hyperbole in his prose, it's a rare issue which gives us some solid dialogue and given his affinity for a certain New Avenger, the last page reveal may not be as much of a shocker, though it is still rendered beautifully as is the rest of this fine comic book.

While I did not read this title from its inception and was not really picking up every installment of the Illuminati mini series, one does not really need to read those previous issues to enjoy and understand this issue of New Avengers which makes it a very new reader friendly comic and which also gives Bendis an opportunity to flesh out his narrative with new twists and novel surprises.

Final Word: This issue of New Avengers, while devoid of its regular cast does such a fantastic job of exposition that it will be a pleasure to most readers whether they are regular readers of the title or seasoned veterans of Bendis' prose which is refreshingly crisp and interesting this month.



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