Avengers: New, Mighty, and The Initiative

All avengers books today! The Dark Reign continues and the bad guys keep winning… kinda’.

Let’s start with New Avengers 52

Last issue we saw that Dr. Strange is trying to find out who the new Sorcerer Supreme is and ended up being attacked by The Hood. Our story picks up there. There are half a dozen artists on this book: Billy Tan, Matt Banning and Justin Ponsor & Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend and Antonio Fabela. That is how they are listed in the credits. Not sure how the separations are intended, although I think it’s pencils/inks/colors/pencils/inks/colors. The different artists are used for different parts of the story, and that’s a good way to use them, but I actually found myself a little distracted near the middle as the battle between Strange, Wiccan and The Hood was recounted. I didn’t find it confusing, just a bit distracting.

Brian Michael Bendis continues to have the team sit around a table talking to each other. He is very good at this, but we’re on issue three of talking heads and I’m really looking forward to seeing some action. The sections involving The Hood were a nice way to break up all the talking. There was one little thing that I felt was a little out of place, there is a point where Spider-Man gets upset about flying in a stolen Quinjet as the Avengers go to find The Hood. He keeps griping about it too. I understand that his new status quo requires him to be more innocent, but, really? Gonna’ be upset that Ms. Marvel took a Quinjet? After the first mention of it I felt it was a bit much.
Also, it is nice to see Madame Masque back in the criminal forefront. Back in the day, she was one of my favorite Iron Man villains – up until the late 80’s when there seemed to be no editor to make sure that the story lines got wrapped up and there were, like, 20 of her running around. Now her involvement with The Hood puts her back up there with the other crime bosses where she belongs. Here’s hoping there’s a really big fight next issue. I’d also like to know who the new Sorcerer Supreme is!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, The Son of Satan is in this issue too! He and The Hood are gonna’ fight. Good stuff.

The Mighty Avengers 24
Or as I like to call it Pym’s Marry Band of B-Level All-Stars. Dan Slott continues to build an Avenger team in the mighty Marvel manner, but I feel like this book is occurring just a few degrees off of normal continuity. While New Avengers and Dark Avengers directly relate to one another and reference each other freely, this book makes some references but doesn’t seem to affect or be affected by the continuity of the other two books. I know that there are folks out that would argue that continuity is unnecessary, but I think that the fact that there is a Dark Reign banner at the top of this title, and that fact that this is an Avengers book, I really do expect there to be more impact both ways.
All things being equal I do like this new team. I like the fact that they were brought together by Loki, just like the original team. I like that Jarvis is with them. I am a little concerned that Pym has a bit of “utility belt” syndrome. He seems to have all the gadgets he could ever need at his beck and call. It makes you wonder why he didn’t just save everyone on the Skrull planet and get them all home on his own. I know that Dan Slott is trying to re-characterize the oft maligned Dr. Pym, but I don’t know if I’m a fan of how this is going. I feel like I’m not being clear, but I’m still really on the fence about this book. Originally I wasn’t even going to pick it up – but it looked like Iron Man was going to be a regular cast member. That certainly didn’t happen, but they did get my attention enough for me to at least see the next arc through.
Art by Rafa Sandoval is great. I loved the opening with the Cabal all meeting in the mental plane. I think my favorite parts of this book are Loki and the Cabal appearances, which makes me wish that it had more impact on the other books. I also like the fact that they are handling problems all over the world and not really concerning themselves with the drama of Norman Osborn. I’m sticking around to see where it goes.
Avengers: The Initiative 23
I feel like I missed an issue, but I know I didn’t. This was a messy issue designed to close all the remaining Dan Slott plot lines, which were really good, so that the new direction and status quo could be established. Camp Hammond is destroyed, public outcry is high, and we’re six months past the end of Secret Invasion and this book is JUST NOW getting to Norman Osborn being in charge! I’m not even sure if this book can get back into continuity.
The story lines are a mess. Here are the points I remember:
– MVP clone saga is revealed.
– All but one of the clones is dead.
– Baron Von Blitzschlag cries.
– Camp Hammond shuts down.
– Gauntlet leads the remaining recruits to clean up the mess.
My favorite part of this is the Shadow Initiative storyline. They were hunting the rogue Hardball. Here’s the thing that gets me, Hardball is suddenly a bad guy. Like straight up evil bad guy. Back when he was introduced he was working with Hydra, but was really conflicted about it. Then, as his relationship with Komoto developed, he started to really get his act together. Somewhere his story took a dramatic left and I don’t even know when it happened, but now he’s a full-on Hydra agent and even uses a SPIN (Super Power Inhibiting Nanobots) dart to take away her powers. Gripe for this little detail: Tony Stark, one of the biggest brains in the Marvel Universe, created this technology with Reed Richards, the LARGEST brain in the Marvel Universe. These guys needed DNA from the intended target for this tech to work. Suddenly Hydra has darts that work on anyone – no matter what. The explanation: a two line statement, “But here at Hydra, we don’t just make weapons. We make them better.” That doesn’t make sense to me. Hydra has never been that good. And this sudden change in characterization for Hardball seems too fast.
I was disappointed in most of this book. I could read a whole book about the Shadow Initiative, and now that they are stuck in Madripoor I hope there are a lot of those stories, but I’m really only giving this one more issue to pick up before I drop it.
I know it sounds like a harsh week this week, but times are tough and if I’m gonna’ spend my money on it I want it to be worth it.
See you tomorrow!

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