New Avengers #31


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New Avengers #31


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Leinil Yu
  • Inks: Leinil Yu
  • Colors: Dave McCaig
  • Story Title: Revolution, Part Five
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 13, 2007

It ends with a revelation that connects the Secret War, Enemy of the State, Civil War, and The Initiative to one single enemy mastermind. Hmmm….

Don’t worry, no spoilers ahead, though I will give a few hints. The skinny: the New Avengers take on Elektra and the Hand in an issue-length brawl that ends just as the cover depicts. What? Really? They’re pulling that shtick again? (See cover for details) For God’s sake – why? Hasn’t that idea used up all the momentum it ever had? Well, yes, you see, all is not as it seems, and one moment of pure pastiche quickly devolves into another (sadly, the twist – the big, big revelation – doesn’t prove any better when it comes to originality).

I guess it’s just comics, isn’t it? God forbid the most ambitious, complex concept to ever strike mainstream super-heroes doesn’t culminate in a: "No, it can’t be, not…YOU." A moment that’s (if you’ve been around the block more than half-a-block) regrettably a been-there, done-that anticlimax. I was kind of digging what I thought to be the ambiguous treatment of the rebel New Avengers, those heroes that were dragging about this hope-inspired paranoia, a desperate need to believe that their recent woes (all of them) were in fact the effect of a world-wide conspiracy, and not just the dismal, fear-induced climate of a terrified and uncertain culture. But, of course, it’s just comics, isn’t it? So they happen to be right, and all the complex (if contrived) Marvel events of the past half-decade or so are soon to be absorbed into one single plot device, the very device that is unveiled right here in New Avengers #31.

The issue itself, in its entirety, is just a single, very long fight scene, though after the utterly thrilling beats of Bendis’ (thus far) three-issue long, drawn-out throw-down over in Mighty Avengers, the choreography of everyone vs. The Hand ninjas is a big fat letdown. There’s a ridiculous amount of banter, and a lot of SFX CRASH’s and THUNK’s and FOOOSH’s and KRACKOOM’s, but largely the story is composed of too many characters, all cartwheeling about through the air, dodging throwing stars, their fists and feet thrown outward, generally hitting something or someone but nothing discernable. There’s a sincere lack of careful consideration given to the presentation of the battle, and the issue – outside of its ending – is a completely padded, pointless exercise in how not to entertain anyone by simply not giving them anything. There is, of course, the usual Bendis dialogue, though it reads like one of those Script-This-Panel contests, only with a whole lot of panels. So it’s funny in places, snarky and fast-paced, but just don’t expect anything beyond the hyped-up final page.

Some of the blame for the lackluster art does have to put on Leinil Yu’s shoulders, as he could have managed a more concrete series of moments to compose the battle, but Yu has always been an artist’s artist, erring on the side of art deco layout and representational dramatics vs. the painting of any sort of realistic, blow-by-blow antics. His art, nonetheless, is actually exceedingly eye-catching, and the book and the characters truly suit him. He’s a wildly talented guy, and personally I’m loving him on such a high profile action book, but the script could have used a greater degree of specifics if all we’re going to get (leaving Leinil to his own devices) is page after page of bunches of guys in mid-leap or mid-kick or mid-punch positions.

So the enemy stands revealed. The moment so much in question makes sense enough, as does the specific disclosure (these being the solid parts). It even ties flawlessly into what Bendis has set-up over in New Avengers: Illuminati (and likely may be why there’s been a delay to that series’ end, as it might have – on second thought – given too much away, though anyone who read issue #1 will see the symmetry here).

Sadly, the reveal is definitely stilted, as this particular enemy has been the scapegoat for numerous big-big conspiracies of Marvel’s past (even of their relatively recent past – hint: Waid/Captain America) so it’s getting to the point where it’s like declaring hey, it was all done by Nazis! Isn’t that shocking? Uh, no, not really. It’s a mildly interesting reveal, and I suppose it does move things along toward whatever the next giant-unbelievable-it’ll-change-everything crossover is that’ll reinvent the Marvel U and take it out of The Initiative and back to status quo (note the irony of "change everything" and "status quo" being used as though synonymous). I’m stunned it’s happening so soon, but I shouldn’t be. I guess it’s just comics, isn’t it? I wish I didn’t mean that in so disappointing a way as I do.

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