With the vast amount of material that gets released every Wednesday, it becomes very easy (and also extremely prudent) to understand that some material will not be in line with your tastes. Of course, that doesn’t make said material inheritably bad because you have to account for things like genre tastes, character, writer and artist involvement before you get to more intricate issues a person may have with work. However, there are some pieces of work that not only fall into this category, but also happen to be pretty bad from where you sit. So bad, that no amount of good present can serve as enough of a redeeming force to ignore the bad parts, something that is ever present in Avengers # 19. Despite that declaration, the burning question of whether this book possesses any redeeming qualities still remains. As for the answer to that question, all will be revealed below you.
As I was reading this comic, one of the things I can’t deny is that Bendis has definitely given himself quite the interesting set-up. With “Fear Itself” mercifully behind us, it would only be logical that the next biggest threat to deal with would be Norman Osborn (the man that abused his power to attack Asgard), who escaped from Prison under mysterious circumstances to the characters present in that issue. Even though this does run the chance of being redundant if wrongly executed, it is nice to see him being treated like the Alpha Class threat that he really is, which makes the ending all the better, because while I didn’t like Osborn coming back from the dead (honestly you could’ve created a new character who could’ve had the same impact as Norman ) his impact over recent events was far too great for him to go back to solely chasing Spider-Man on the rooftops. Unfortunately, the strong foundation is not built upon in the written on visual storytelling.
For anyone that’s been around the scene long enough, one of the biggest criticisms people have about Bendis’ writing is the dialogue that tries to sound hip and edgy, but only makes characters sound like a gaggle of fools, and boy is this trait ever present here. By far the biggest offender of this is Jessica Drew, whose dialogue in this comic consists almost solely on bitching about Quake (Daisy Johnson) from her age, to her status in the new S.H.I.E.L.D. (which Bendis has Hawkeye respond to in a flirtatious manner that made me cringe) to her appointment on the Avengers. While people will say that Bendis making a character sound annoying is par for the course, the big difference between say Captain America acting like a pious hypocrite and Jessica Drew sounding needlessly bitchy is that Bendis isn’t the only voice for Captain America in any given month, due to Brubaker writing the former’s book. However, when it comes to the latter, Bendis has pretty much been soley responsible for her characterization for more than 6 years, and from my point of view, he has failed greatly in making her a compelling character instead of someone who takes up a spot because she was there in said writer’s childhood, making Jessica Drew one of Benids’ greatest missed opportunities.
Speaking of missed opportunities, at its core this issue is the latest in the always fun “Who will be the Avengers” formula that was made famous with the first Avengers #16 more than 45 years ago. If nothing else, these issues are always fun because at its best you get to see defining character moments ranging from opportunities to make things right (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye in that same issue) to lifelong dreams coming true (Justice’s sheer joy from Avengers ’98 #4 is something I’ll never forget), and while this issue had the chance for its own great moments, those chances are never seized. Not only does this issue see a long requested hero join this legendary team in Storm, but it also sees the return of the Silver Age Vision after a near 7 year absence. While some may not share my concern about how these two moments never get time to breathe, due to how the script was written (the reactions from Spider Man and Wolverine felt wasted on quips that killed her dramatic entrance), the biggest problem I had with this part of the story is how Vision came back. Not only does it contradict the situation of Tony being broke in “The Invincible Iron Man” (along with being a complete surprise that would’ve been better served to have been teased to in that comic), but it cheapens the return of a character that deserved a better one. Of course, some might say that these moments should be judged on their, but with the way they bleed into each other dialogue wise robbed the reader of the impact that those moments should’ve gotten and that could define why I think Bendis ultimately dropped the ball here.
While I can give Bendis credit for the setup for this arc , I cannot be as forthcoming with praise for the overall art job. Beyond the battle sequence with T’Challa, Captain America taking on a Sentinel and Storms full page “in flight” drawing, there’s just far too much here that doesn’t work and it all starts with the artist himself. From the minute I opened this book, I had to make sure I kept telling myself that art on its most surface level is extremely objective and what looks inefficient to you, may be a masterpiece to someone else, but as I kept taking in the story being told, the technical problems came to the forefront. For starters, the character expressions betray the spoken parts of the story at critical moments, making events that should be shocking matter all the much less, something that is especially apparent with the Vision’s return. To make things worse, the colorist didn’t do any favors for Acuna’s art, as the colors constantly bleed into each other, distorting virtually every single image that this book produces and committing the worst offense of them all, and that’s impeding on storytelling. When its all said and done, a much better job could’ve been done and it wasn’t.
Other musings and the final 22 cents
Before I finish off this review, let me completely honest and say that Avengers #19 already had a target on it, due to the preview pages that were released the Friday before last. Not only did those pages confirm my worst fears about T’Challa not joining the Avengers, but it also seems apparent that no one bother to clue the creative staff in on his weapon use (I’ve never seen T’Challa use Blily Clubs not once in his series). When I originally was going to write this review, I was going to use a bunch of the space to rant about how Marvel has not delivered on the promise of making said character a bigger player in the Marvel Universe(which I’ll still do in a later review), but after taking some time to think about it, I realized that would’ve been dishonest and unfair and that I should not let agendas get in the way unless they’re fully justified.
Of course, said restraint is made easier when more pertinent issues are present that impede on this book’s quality, mostly personal issues don’t equal into the equation. Without T’Challa joining the Avengers, this issue was plagued with execution issues from the script to the art (in both asthethic and storytelling aspects) that those issues are the least of its problems. It’s almost like Marvel didn’t even try to make this the best comic it could possibly be and that’s the biggest sin of them all.
Final Judgment: 4