Whenever I read Bendis and Immonen’s New Avengers, I feel like I’m getting away with something. I don’t know how well it actually sells but this is, in theory, a major book. A tentpole book. Yet when I read it, I feel like the character lineup, interactions, and quirky dialogue are there just for me and me friends. Therefore, I think of it like I think of of Marvel’s “fringe” books (Atlas or Exiles or S.W.O.R.D) that’s doomed to swift cancellation. But this is a bigtime Avengers book, right? Because when I see Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and Carol Danvers hanging out, I think I’m reading a secret sequel to Alias. I haven’t even historically been a big fan of Bendis’s Avengers, but something about the combination of this lineup with Stuart Immonen’s dreamy pencils and Laura Martin’s colors makes the whole thing fit perfectly. I couldn’t describe the plot of this book with a gun to my head, but I think it’s the perfect comic.
Okay so I just re-read Alan Davis’s Excalibur run and I don’t know if it’s intentional, but there’s some heavy similarity here. That said, as much as I love Alan Davis, Excalibur doesn’t have Stuart Immonen drawing ninja fights, Bendis’s amazing portrayal of Ben Grimm or Spider-Man’s hilarious Occam’s Razor solution to the mystery plaguing the team for the past four issues. Feels epic and cartoony in all the best ways, but with whip-smart dialogue. But I’m docking a point because Bendis makes Hawkeye look like a chump.
Consistently the best Avengers title — New beats out Academy based solely on my pre-existing emotional connection to the characters on Luke’s team. I don’t always enjoy superhero stories that center on magic or magic-based characters, partly because the “rules” of magic in comics aren’t always well-defined, but this arc works for me. As always, Stuart Immonen’s art doesn’t disappoint and Brian Michael Bendis’ mockery of comic book tropes — for example: Hawkeye bailing mid-battle because he’s really on “the other Avengers team” — comes across as playful rather than snide.
I love Bendis. I love talkey-Bendis. Anytime someone says something like, “Oh Bendis has got too much talking in his comics,” it makes me want to punch them in the soul. There’s too much talking in this issue. Now would someone please punch me in the soul?
Honestly, this book could be complete gibberish, and I’d adore it for Stuart Immonen’s art and Laura Martin’s colors alone. (With, of course, the assistance of the amazingly-named Wade Von Grawbadger on inks.) This is a gorgeous, gorgeous book, with clear storytelling and layouts and attractive, anatomically-correct people of both genders. Luckily, it’s also a very well-written book, with Bendis playing to his strengths and using humor and characterization to drive a plot that I’ve managed to enjoy despite not caring about any of the mystical mumbo-jumbo. From Spider-Man’s quips (“Maybe this Agamotto dude just wants his eye back”) to Wolverine’s immediate willingness to sacrifice himself to save everyone else (and no one protesting), Bendis knows these characters up, down, and backwards, and I’d happily read him writing them forever.
This is my favorite of the current Avengers books, by far. As it has been for a while, New Avengers is a fantastic team book, giving us the best in Bendis Banter for the characters — how much do I love everything about Spider-Man in this book? So very much. It also helps that this book has a weird and interesting plot going on, and that Immonen’s art is solid, dynamic and appealing — and that guy draws a lot of characters in a lot of panels here, making it more impressive that he keeps it all so clean. Finally, that double-page spread of Dr. Strange, Wong, and all the Hand ninjas is wonderful — ninjas flying through the air make everything better, even things that are already great. I keep looking forward to every new issue of this series. (Aside: I’m glad he’s not dead and all, but why was Hawkeye basically unfazed by having a taxi land on him, and how did he casually lift it off himself with one arm? Hmm.)