Overview

New Avengers #10

Review

Share this review

  • Button Delicious
  • Bttn Digg
  • Bttn Facebook
  • Bttn Ff
  • Bttn Myspace
  • Bttn Stumble
  • Bttn Twitter
  • Bttn Reddit

New Avengers #10

Credits

  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Steve McNiven
  • Inks: Mark Morales & John Dell
  • Colors: Morry Hollowell & Laura Martin
  • Story Title: The Sentry, Part 4
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Sep 21, 2005

With The Sentry still locked within his own mind, can The Avengers save him before The Void destroys them all?

At the conclusion of The New Avengers #9, Emma Frost had entered Robert Reynolds’ mind in an attempt to learn why everyone has forgotten The Sentry. But learning that the life he’d been leading for years was a lie, and that his true self had been defeated by Mastermind and The General, was too much for him to handle. In issue #10, Emma Frost enlists Reynolds’ wife Lindy to help bring Robert out of hiding within his own subconscious. Their shared memories do the trick, after which Reynolds must now undo what has been done to him.

There’s so much to like in this new incarnation of Earth’s mightiest heroes, and Brian Michael Bendis deserves credit for shaking up what had become a moribund title. Avengers Disassembled was a huge risk that in many ways didn’t pay off. But with a novel and unorthodox line-up, new story elements like The Brain Trust, and a more introspective approach to scripting the title, the risks he’s taken on The New Avengers have been more successful.

That said, if there were an award for Most Frustrating Comic of the Year, after issue #10 I would give it to The New Avengers without a second thought.

Bendis’ "The Sentry" arc has some of the finest, most thought provoking meta-textual elements I’ve seen since Alan Moore’s Promethea. They’re not just cute or different for the sake of being different. Had Bendis opted for straight-ahead flashback sequences, the very nature of the flashback would have focused the reader’s attention on the story and little else. But in nesting comic book elements within a comic such that it reflects back on Reynolds, as well as the reader, and then going a step further to portray memory itself purely as media, or a medium of nothing but media, the script’s self-reflexive aspects unlock the mysteries of The Sentry, but also examines the nature of memory itself. Like Marcel Proust or Memento, Bendis’ meta-text resonates with deep questions: Is memory anything more than media, or something more? Is the self purely a function of memory? If one totally loses one’s memory, is the self similarly lost, or is there always some residual trace of who and what one is? The Sentry is still something of a cipher—to himself, if not to us and the other Avengers—but throughout this arc Bendis has done a remarkable job portraying the journey from psychotic to superhero. As a real risk, it pays off big.

But the postmodern stuff gets in the way of some very basic storytelling issues. First, The Avengers fear that what happened to Wanda could happen to The Sentry, but nowhere is this really discussed. In fact, we find out from Emma Frost, not Tony Stark or Captain America, that once Reynolds is cured he’s an Avenger. This makes us wonder what’s so special about The Sentry other than being a nice Thor replacement. Second, if The Sentry’s apparently awesome psychic powers made everyone forget him, then at the conclusion, I would have expected some acknowledgment, however inconsequential, that he was suddenly remembered. Instead, the other heroes still react to him as if they’ve just met him. Third, at times Bendis portrays Emma Frost in a very earthy and colloquial manner, which I found jarring, as her austerity is her appeal and an essential aspect of her character. Lastly, the ending felt curiously rushed and flat. Bendis piled text balloons on top of text balloons throughout the first two acts, but skimped on the third where more conversation than presented could have made for a smoother, more resolved conclusion.

Steve McNiven’s made his mark with great penciling work on Ultimate Secret, Marvel Knights 4, and Meridian. He’s an interesting contrast to David Finch. Whereas Finch creates deep, rich texture with heavy linework and shade, McNiven’s texture and depth are ethereal, the result of an economy of line that lets color do most of the work. Similarly, Finch’s figures are of a "classic" comic style emphasizing curves and muscles; but McNiven’s are more lean and sculptured. McNiven also has a striking and unconventional sense of accent detail that feels both very "drawn" while also photorealistic. But as distinctive as McNiven’s penciling is, instead of playing to his strengths, the inking job by Morales and Dell plays to his major weakness—faces. With such stark facial lines, everyone in The New Avengers #10 looks prematurely aged or tranced at best, and like a corpse at worse. Consequently, his images look more static than they should, and the sense that these characters are moving is compromised.

The New Avengers #10 merits an A for effort, but also deserves a D for execution. If it ever hits all of its cylinders—and there are many—it’ll be one of the best comics on the stands.

Related content

Related Headlines

Related Lowdowns

Related Reviews

Related Columns

Comments

There are no comments yet.

In order to post a comment you have to be logged in. Don't have a profile yet? Register now!

Latest headlines

READ ALL HEADLINES

Latest comments
Comics Discussion
Broken Frontier on Facebook