Comics: New Avengers #1-2 - A Tale of Woe and Disappointment

Matt reviews the first two issues of The New Avengers. 

Does anyone remember when Image first formed?  All those superstar artists: Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio, Jim Valentino, etc etc; so many beautiful pinups, impressive pages with vibrant colors and flashy characters, both good and bad, in every book.  It was a visual feast that did not hold up once you started reading the awkward dialogue, or when the plots stalled out because nothing made sense anymore, or the artists got bored with it and chose to abandon the book in favor of a newer interest or more money through brand management.  Well, that's kind of what this post-Secret Wars New Avengers feels like: a book that is all about the visuals, with a plot so thin it belongs on a sandwich topped off by cheesy dialogue.  Oh, but the art's a bit of a let-down, though.  Whoever this guy is (Gerardo Sandoval), he ain't '90s Jim Lee.

What do we have here?  What we have is Ultimate (SIGH) Reed Richards, called Maker for some stupid reason, trying to tap into alternate realities because he's just an evil jackass, and he steals a bunch of people's heads in Paris, replacing them with diamonds, creating a horde of diamond-headed zombies with excellent fashion sense and causing S.H.I.E.L.D. a large amount of consternation for some reason.  I think Sandoval and writer Patrick Ewing (I don't feel like checking his real name because he kind of sucks, so I'm going to call him Patrick for the rest of my life) were playing a bit too much The Sims while developing this thing.  So, the New Avengers (officially called Avengers Idea Mechanics, or A.I.M. because Songbird reformed, so why not an entire evil organization despite their Hydra-like history?) show up and do some things I'm not allowed to talk about because this is a spoiler free website.

This book lost me on page 5.  They're worrying about S.H.I.E.L.D. showing up and arresting them all because Roberto DaCosta (former member of b-list X-book X-Force) bought A.I.M. and re-purposed them as a team of good guys.  Songbird expresses her concern about Dum Dum Dugan showing up with Hawkeye while the team is off on a mission, and DaCosta's 90s-Image-era response is “Don't worry about it, Melissa.  I'm DISGUSTINGLY handsome and- AND -I'm wearing a suit.”  Because, yeah, what a totally clever way to put your team's field leader at ease while you're being drawn by someone who thinks he's Joe Madureira with inks and murky colors that would be more at home on Daredevil's book.  I almost stopped reading there, but I pressed on, all the way through to the end of the second book.

Dorky hat / Evil genius

I had high hopes for this book.  Being a comic fan who came of age in the 90s, I had the pleasure of reading the intensely interesting and incredibly suspenseful Thunderbolts as they were coming out, and Songbird was easily the most compelling member of the team, no small feat considering the personality Kurt Busiek put into the cast of the book.  She was even featured in Avengers Forever, a time-jumping, mind-bending miniseries- ahem, excuse me, that would be maxiseries by Busiek and penciller Carlos Pacheco, where she was part of an Avengers team pulled together from various points along the 616 timeline.  When I saw her included as a member of this New Avengers team I thought, “Oh, great!  Finally she's getting her due!”

And then I read it and I sighed the entire time.  The book just wasn't that exciting, the action was meh, and I'm sorry but I can't take any team seriously that has Squirrel Girl as an actual member.  Who the hell decided she was going to be popular anyways?  She even had her own book with hideous art that ran up through Civil Wa- uh, Secret Wars, whatever.  Marvel should just keep her there in her own book so her two dozen or so fans can get their monthly Squirrel Girl fix there instead of here.  And I hate Ultimate (eye-roll!) Reed Richards/Maker as a villain.  Just another cliched super-genius, only this time in a dorky hat.  He's just evil for the sake of being evil.  Is there a backstory there that I should know that might flesh his character out more?  Probably, but who cares?  I'm not going to waste my time reading it, and really, there should be some hint of it here in New Avengers if it's important, but it's not because he's just an evil jackass out there evil-jackassing it up because all superheroes need some super-jackass to fight.

Was there anything good about it?  Why, yes, yes there was.  The pacing was excellent.  At no point did I feel like it was rushed, nor did I feel lost, and that is a major victory considering the state of modern comics.  I remember reading the New 52 Action Comics and having to re-read the same section three or four times because I couldn't figure out if I missed a page or it was a poorly-executed flashback or what, but dang were those early issues jumpy and inconsistent as hell.  And then I had read through some Spider-Womans earlier this year and they had the choppy action wrapped up in like three panels so we could be bashed in the face with the moral lessons the writer and artist know all comic book fans love to learn while reading a book about a character named Spider-Woman.

"Me too, Songbird. Me too."

Alright, I've taken a deep breath and can now continue with a few more positives.  The art seemed a lot better in the second issue, and the colors were gorgeous.  Oh, and it is Songbird leading a team of Avengers.  See?  Not all is lost.  There are some reasons that you could use to justify buying this book.

-Matthew Streeter

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