Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It Came From the Long Box: New Avengers #7

I'm not buying comics anymore (except for the odd cheap back issue lots on eBay), but between borrowing 'graphic novel' collections from the library system I belong to, buying some of the same--I'm especially partial to the Marvel Masterwork books that reprint the early books in beautiful color and very heavy slick stock; as well as their opposite, the Marvel Essentials series that are on cheap stock paper and printed in black & white, but which reprint 25-28 books in one volume for $15 or less--and borrowing comics from a guy at work who buys the occasional issue, I'm starting to get back into things.

One problem is that I've missed some continuity, and sometimes have to play catch-up. However, I'm an old hand at the comics game, and can usually catch up. (Or just ignore what I'm not really interested in).

Today I read New Avengers #7, featuring a reformulated Avengers team after the original set broke up in the aftermath of some members getting killed by an old teammate gone mad; an event that is *majorly* reverberating through the Marvel Universe right now. Anyway, a mass of supervillains broke out of a super-prison in the earlier issues, and a number of superheroes showed up during this to make sure they didn't *all* break out: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, Luke Cage (Yay!), Iron Man and Spider-Woman. There's also a mystery superhero called Sentry, but I don't have any history with him and so far aren't too interested. Anyway, Cap feels the impromptu team-up is a sign to reform the group, and that's what happens.

The New Avengers is written by superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis, whose biggest talent is to make superheros and villains seem like real people. I like touches like Iron Man/Tony Stark being part of a loose confederation of superteam representatives (along with Dr. Strange and Namor, the Submariner) who get together to trade notes. That only makes sense, and you really would think the Avengers, FF, X-Men, ect., would keep in touch as they fight many of the same people. Bendis is one of the few writers out there who can make five pages of guys sitting around a table yakking more fun than yet another fight scene.

There is a battle scene, though, and a pretty good one. Spidey, Wolverine, Cage and Spider-Woman head out to re-capture one of the escaped baddies--there are over 40 on the loose, and taking off the streets is their main job right now--and they end up fighting The Wrecker, an extremely strong bruiser who was part of a gang called the Wrecking Crew. He has a convoluted origin involving Thor's evil brother Loki, and basically has godlike physical powers, centered in a crowbar he carries. (Hey, it's no dumber than Thor's hammer.)

Wrecker has reclaimed his crowbar and costume from a rich collector of supervillain memorbilea--a funny yet entirely believable idea--and is such a clod, you at first think he's going to go down easy. However, his raw level of power sadly proves too much for the team--they really should have brought Iron Man along--and he pretty much kicks everyone's ass. One problem is that the desparate new Avengers haven't really started fighting like a team yet, and maybe that will be the focus of the next issue or two.

There're a number of nice Bendis moments, such as clueless egghead Reed Richards nonchalantly answering Iron Man's quip about how to say something in Atlantean (to Namor, natch), and I really liked when in the middle of a fisticuffs exchange with Luke, the Wrecker notes, "Cage, right?" Indeed, the two fought in Defenders #19. It's a matter-of-fact moment, one professional aknowledging another.

Good stuff, and all the good stuff these days ends up in paperback collections, so keep an eye out for the books collecting the New Avengers. It's not quite up there with the alternate-universe Ultimates, but it's pretty fine reading nonetheless.


At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What little Sentry has popped up, you've not missed much. He is billed as the first Marvel superhero preceding Spiderman, etc...He had to contend with some force so powerful he had to give up being remembered by everyone to save the world.

At 5:44 AM, Blogger thanoseid said...

That part with Reed was my favorite comedy bit in the series so far (and there've been lots of good ones). It was just such a perfect summation of the character: brilliant, but also oblivious. I only wish the screenwriters for the movie had had such a good understanding of what makes Reed tick.

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Marvel superheroes said...

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