Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Avengers #53 – A Review

New Avengers #53

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Brian Bendis

Pencils Billy Tan

Inks Matt Banning

Colors Justin Ponsor

So I’m getting to the point where I think maybe I’m a little masochistic as I keep getting this book and it keeps on absolutely killing me. Add to that it is also a $4 book for the same page count and you have another thing I hate and yet I’m getting this book. If nothing else this book stirs my passion about what is wrong with Marvel at times and Bendis in particular.

Let’s start with the good points first. The whole Dark Reign thing appears to be Bendis’ baby and turning things upside down has been interesting many times in the past few months. Bendis idea of making these Avengers as renegades has been fun also, although they are very public renegades. His actual grouping of Avengers is also unique as we have Bucky Cap, Hawkeye Ronin, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. Not a classic grouping but still a lot of potential and the last member Doctor Strange, who is more of a retired member at this point. The overall story idea is interesting in that Dr. Strange is no longer Sorcerer Supreme and we are trying to find out who it will be. So on the surface Bendis does a lot right.

The execution of the idea is where it all falls apart. His dialoguing of this group makes me think Bendis is a frustrated sitcom writer and he probably is laughing his ass off as he writes this stuff. Occasional humor in comics is great and I have had many moments when I have laughed out loud reading a comic. The problem her is it is too sophomoric and is Bendis shoving lines into these characters mouths whether they fit the established personality or not. It hurts to read some of the dialogue coming out of these characters mouths. If I read it without following the lines from the word bubble 80% of the time it could be any character talking as they all talk the same. Then there are other things where an Avenger calls Wolverine over because they need his nose. Spider-Man says he hates guns, Bucky Cap tries to have everyone carry a gun and finally Brudder Voodoo showing up as he is the new Sorcerer Supreme apparently. Why Bendis has to have him saying Brudder Voodoo to affect some accent is beyond me, but I guess having the new Sorcerer Supreme become black makes sense in Marvel liberal land.

One other issues I’m having are Hawkeye as Ronin. Hawkeye was and is an archer and making him into a pure hand to hand fighter goes against the grain in a thousand different ways. I know over the years he has played other roles, but if you are going to have Clint Barton, he needs to be Hawkeye. Next issue is the overuse of the Hood. The Hood has been so steeped in Bendis’ books, that we are going to like him and think he is a great super villain kingpin and that it that in Bendis’ mind. Another issue is the taking Doctor Strange down a peg. I hate it. Doc has been hanging around the MU for years under utilized and we know ala the Ancient One Doc can be around for hundreds of years, so replacing him just stinks. Also using Brother Voodoo feels like pandering to the fact we have a black President as opposed to anything that makes any comic book logic. Finally the lack of continuity between the Dark Reign books is another problem for me. I’m not expecting everything to line up perfectly. Heck with characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man, they have too many books to worry about it at all. The lower tier characters like Ms. Marvel and such are different and what is happening in their books when it is major should be reflected in other books.

So what keep me hanging around on this book are a few things. The art by Billy Tan is certainly well done and good art is always a plus in a visual medium. Also this is a core Marvel Universe book. I could stop almost every other Marvel book and just get New and Dark Avengers and at least stay in the loop a little bit about what is happening in the MU. Since I do a webcast, the blog and enjoy talking about books it is important that I keep a perspective on what is happening and following this and Dark Avengers gives me that perspective. I do not have to follow any of the other Dark Reign books and currently only get Electra and the FF mini-series, everything else with Dark Reign I have tried and dropped or never tried and I plan to continue that trend for now.

Overall Grade C – Solid art and some interesting ideas, butchered by sloppy characterization and a writer who needs an editor that is allowed to edit the book for content.


  1. "Also using Brother Voodoo feels like pandering to the fact we have a black President as opposed to anything that makes any comic book logic."

    Really now? A writer uses a black character and it automatically has something to do with Obama?

  2. "Why Bendis has to have him saying Brudder Voodoo to affect some accent is beyond me, but I guess having the new Sorcerer Supreme become black makes sense in Marvel liberal land."

    So in a politically unbiased fictional world all the positions of mystical power are filled by white guys, or just the top one?

  3. CrazyChris - Stop trying to make something racist that isn't. It smells like a stunt and the timing makes it seem more about pandering then good story telling. The Ancient One was not white, so the top spot can be anyone or anything, as I said the timing is odd. It is about good story telling and Bendis missed by a wide margin.

  4. I'm not reading it, so I can't comment on the dialog and such, but I find it funny that you're bitching about getting rid of Dr Strange as Sorcerer Supreme. Aren't you the avatar of change is good? Batman should be someone new ring a bell?

    As far as CrazyChris here, it's really a stretch to say that Brother Voodoo becoming Sorcerer Supreme has something, anything to do with Obama being president. Replacing a white character with a black character for a little different perspective isn't exactly new. See Green Lantern or Iron Man, for instance.

    I don't think your comments are racist, but they smell of cantankerous, old, white GOP, a lot like Dick Cheney. I know you don't want to be seen as having anything in common with him. Of course, my wife sounds like that a lot, too, and she's black.

  5. Geez Thomm - You know that I am as GOP as I am DEM. Ron Paul (while republican) is closest to my politics. As for sounding like someone else, hell I probably agree with Obama and Cheney equally. Also you discount the timing and I do not, that is the difference.

    As the advocate for change, yes when needed, but Dr. Strange has been underused for years. I'd rather have Rhodes as Iron Man and Bucky as Cap as both of those characters have been in the limelight for 40 plus years. Just because I like seeing new people take the mantle, does not equate to change everyone.

  6. Jim, I don't think you are racist but I think your association of Brother Voodoo is a baffling stretch. Bendis has used the character in his Mighty Avengers run, which came out before Obama was even running, so he obviously has a longstanding interest in the character. Reading the previous issues, Brother Voodoo was probably my second or third guess on who the new SS was going to be, actually, because I knew Bendis liked him.

  7. Crazychris - Well baffling maybe. I had forgotten that Bendis has had a soft spot for Brudder Voodoo and therefore lose this point and withdraw that objection or allegation, but my other points stand!

    Also if I remember correctly Brother Voodoo took over the Stange Adventures title after Dr. Strange left his book and therefore he has replaced Dr. Strange before!

  8. I don't remember Brother Voodoo ever having the accent that Bendis gave him. Mind you my experience to the character is limited to Priests run on Black Panther and the 4-issue Halloween Marvel miniseries put out in 1998.

  9. James - He never had the accent before and I read his original adventures and have them in an Essential somewhere in my house.

  10. The worst aspect of Brother Voodoo becoming the Sorcerer Supreme designate, even temporarily, is that the plot development treats the title like simplistic junk, implying that possession of the Eye confers the title and provides the needed power. That's not remotely accurate, in a historical sense -- but it's entirely consistent with Bendis's interpretation of magic as being hand-waving and chanting, followed by crazy stuff happening. His "magics" have nothing to do with sorcery.