When we last left off, the Avengers had just disbanded in Avengers Disassembled. It was a sad time with much tearful departures, but I’m not even near done running us through Marvel’s current continuity as far as I can take it. This is meant to help those who want a foothold into the massive continuity, so if you’re still on the fence, today’s Comic Book Club may just sway you to the Marvel side. Now, without further delay, let’s take a look at The New Avengers.
Sure, I hate campy reboots of things. Slap “new” onto most teams and I couldn’t care much (except for The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, that was a great show). However, with The New Avengers, something magical happened, something wholly unexpected: Everything worked. Brian Michael Bendis, most known for his run on Ultimate Spider-Man and Alias (Alias is for another day), took over as writer for The New Avengers and as far as dialogue goes, few writers are anywhere near Bendis in perfection.
It’s hard to keep anyone dead in comics, and even harder to keep a franchise off the racks too longer. Faster than you can say “Jean Grey,” bad things seem to be afoot in the world of Marvel as B-villain Electro somehow manages to shut down the Raft, the maximum security prison that holds most of the world’s Big Bads. Naturally, all of the prisoners riot and flip out, causing a catastrophic breakout that can only be quelled by the best of the best.
Luckily, the best of the best happen to show up, including Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman (keep an eye on her as she’ll be very important). This group of rag-tag heroes band together and reduce a hefty amount of the damage, stopping a hearty number of the villains from escaping, as well as introducing one of the most fascinating characters in comic book history: The Sentry.
Let’s take a moment here to mention who Sentry is. He is, more or less, the Marvel version of Superman. He has nearly unlimited power, is a goody-goody, and is from the Golden Age of comics (according to his backstory). He is also mentally unstable, schizophrenic, and his real name is Bob. He’s yet another character to keep an eye on as he’ll be incredibly important here and there.
Back at the Raft, Captain America mentions how this seems wonderfully like how the first Avengers were formed: stopping a calamity that no singular hero could have stopped (except maybe Sentry, but more on him later). This results in him extending an invitation to reform The Avengers with the present group members, with only Daredevil saying “No thanks.”
The next step is tracking down all of those missing criminals, so the Avengers head to the Savage Land in search of Sauron, a pterodactyl man. There they meet up with Wolverine, who decides to join the Avengers because, hey, why not? Thus the team is formed again and wonderful adventures soon follow! At least…for a little while.
This current team sets the stage for more events soon to unfold, but it’s worth diving into why this works so well. As I previously stated, Bendis is a master of dialogue, somehow writing these characters with enough believability and interest that it just feels fun to read along with their adventures. Spider-Man is notoriously annoying with quips, but under Bendis’ careful tutelage, his constant snarky remarks play well against Wolverine and Luke Cage.
What we see the most of is an injection of humor into a very stuffy space desperate for some humor. Comics are campy, but they’re still capable of serious stuff once in a while. Striking this delicate balance between funny and serious is critical for making characters believable and plots interesting, but Bendis somehow pulls it off.
Thus concludes the basic introduction into New Avengers, but things are about to get crazy. Remember Scarlet Witch? Well, she’s about to come into play again, but that’s next time on Comic Book Club. See you then!
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