Sorry it's so long, guys.
New Avengers #1
To preface, I am neither a Bendis hater nor a Bendis apologist. I’m somewhere in between. I love his Ultimate Spider-Man and Powers books and frequently reread the trades. He is also the only Avengers writer I’ve ever read, tracing back to the Dissembled era, when I got onto a certain website called Newsarama to look for spoilers because I was waiting for the trade.
His Avengers books have had their ups and down. Bendis knows how to write several characters well and almost always includes them in his Avengers stories. This is how Luke Cage, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman all became Avengers and the franchise is better for them. Bendis also knows how to really raise the stakes in his Avengers stories as well. Between the constant threats in Dissembled, House of M, and the lead up to the Skrull invasion (which was New Avengers’ finest hour IMO), Bendis obviously knows how to pitch a strong story, even if he can’t always deliver.
Bendis’ biggest flaws as a writer also come out in his Avengers stories. He often uses the same villains for extended times (the Hood was the New Avengers’ primary antagonist for thirty-some issues) and usually provides little to no character depth beyond “Luke Cage is a badass” or “Jessica Jones is a mother”. Frequently, Bendis relies on his pencillers (whom are always top-notch) to really deliver the stories, because his final chapters often fall short of the expectations that Bendis himself put on them.
So all in all, Bendis’ Avengers are a mix of good and bad.
The first issue of New Avengers (Vol. 2) is no different. Let’s start with the good: Bendis promptly reforms the New Avengers, sets them up in the Avengers Mansion and adds Ben Grimm and Victoria Hand to the roster. Bendis’ New Avengers cast is filled with characters that Bendis loves. He’s built these characters up and turned them into an extended family that just happens to filled with superheroes. Basically, the New Avengers are the JLI of the Marvel universe, without the ridicule and mockery.
The bad part of the story comes from Bendis’ choice of the latest threat to the New Avengers. Invaders from a magical dimension are invading the world and taking out the magic users of the Marvel universe to do it. Doctor Strange and Doctor Voodoo are quickly taken off the board, which annoys me immensely. These are the two top magicians in the Marvel universe, and yet every time Bendis writes them, they quickly get their ass kicked and need Luke Cage’s help to punch whatever demon has invaded earth back into submission. For the former and current Sorcerer Supremes, they certainly seem like pushovers in Bendis’ hands. As a long time fan of Doctor Strange (my father used to read me the comics while tucking me in including the issues featuring Brother Voodoo), it reeks of poor writing. Bendis either doesn’t understand how magic works in the Marvel universe or doesn’t understand it. If this arc goes south (and at this point, I don’t see how it can’t), I will send Bendis a copy of the Essential Dr. Strange Vol. 1 to remind me how the good Doctor is supposed to be written.
Anyways, Stuart Immonen’s art once again saves the day, turning a mediocre comic into a good one. As always, his pencils are a pleasure. He’s one of Marvel’s top artists for a reason after all.
To summarize: good art, good characters, Bendis doesn’t know jack about Marvel magic. Read at your own risk.
Overall: 7 (I rounded up to help offset my bias towards Dr. Strange being treated like a little bitch.)