Thursday, September 28, 2006

Random Reading: New Avengers #23

I've never done it before, but I'm rather drawn to the idea of randomly getting an issue of a comic you've never read before and judging the entire series as a whole based on that single issue. So, today, I grabbed a copy of New Avengers #23 at my campus bookstore (yeah, they actually sell a few comics there--I almost went with Young Avengers/Runaways #2 since I know even less about it than New Avengers).

Apparently, this is "New Avengers: Disassembled" part 3 as the JLA-esque version of the Avengers is split down the middle because of the events of the Civil War crossover. Each issue focuses on a specific member of the team and this time out, we get Spider-Woman.

The first thing that caught my attention was in the little recap of what has already happened. It says, "After being called upon to hunt down heroes in defiance on the Registration Act, Captain America goes underground and begins to form a resistance movement." Now, does this mean that Captain America actually agrees with the Registration Act, but not with hunting down his fellow heroes? Because I thought he simply thought the whole thing was a dumb idea.

Also on that page, there's a little America-centric thinking when S.H.I.E.L.D., which I always thought was a division of the US government (because they sure as hell seem to answer to it) not "the world's peacekeeping taskforce." But, that could be some sort of strange technicality where they're a division of the US government, but have UN sanction or something. Although, a set-up like that firmly places this book in the realm of fiction in ways that superheroes never will.

Getting to the actual story . . . Spider-Woman, or Jessica Drew, is lying in bed having just awoken after a night of drinking cheap beer (the empty cans littered around her) in a dingy motel room. She's obviously distraught about recent events, okay.

She gets a visitor in the form of Nick Fury, the guy at S.H.I.E.L.D. she answers to (she also works for a terrorist organisation called Hyrda), and he's wondering which side of the conflict she's on. So she shoots him in the back with some sort of weird electro-shock power I didn't know she had. And we get a close-up of her ass.

But, Nick Fury isn't hurt because it's not Nick Fury! It's a robot version and Spider-Woman is a traitor to America! Enter armoured troops with guns and a cofusing panel layout that's meant to parallel the chaos of the scene but really just confuses the fuck out of me! What the fuck is going on?

Oh. She's been captured and is in a dark room, tied to a chair. She's the very first traitor in the very first superhero war. Wait. Even people in the MU are calling it a war? That seems premature somehow. I understand calling the story "Civil War," but having the characters call it that? We only see if as such because we exist outside of their little universe and see the entire picture. In our minds, all of the heroes are best good friends and this is, like, the most shocking thing ever. In their minds, they were allies in only the loosest sense and decided to kick the shit out of one another over a political disagreement.

There's some plot stuff. Blah blah blah traitor, blah blah blah double agent, blah blah blah parents were terrorists so you're a terrorist, blah blah blah you answered to Nick Fury but since he's not in charge here anymore we're going to lock you up.

And then, here is Iron Man to make sure Spider-Woman knows she's fucked. And to once again show that Iron Man is a total fucking dick. Because he is. Iron Man is a total fucking dick.

Just when Spider-Woman is at the end of her rope, ready to bitch Iron Man out, the lights go out and Hydra launches a fullscale assault on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to rescue Spider-Woman.

So. Say you're a big terrorist organisation and you have the ability to attack the main headquarters of the "world's peacekeeping taskforce" aka the guys trying to capture and kill you, wouldn't you do so for the reason of just killing them all rather than rescuing a person who may not even be loyal to you? Shit, they basically rush in, get her and then get off, leaving the helicarrier to crash into Rhode Island--except it doesn't. Why the fuck not? What kind of shitty, half-assed terrorist organisation doesn't make damn sure the flying military base they just crippled kills a shitload of innocent people and is destroyed? I call bullshit on Bendis. Especially since bigtime Hydra dude tells us later that this was a one-time only tactic. The message? Marvel's terrorists suck ass. And they're also Nazis (head S.H.I.L.D. lady says they are). And communists (one of them makes sure that Iron Man knows that this is all because of his "war profiteering"). Which makes sense, because Nazis and communists are the same thing.

Anyway, Spider-Woman is taken to Hydra Island or some other lame as fuck named place and is told they want her to replace the current leader of the group. See, it's like, a parallelism to the civil war going on with the heroes. War between heroes, war between terrorists. Except Spider-Woman makes a lame speech and blows the fuck out of the island.

The last page has her finding Captain America's resistance group and asking the join. My only thought is, Captain America and his group have shitty security as she basically just walks into their little warehouse and they're all just standing around. A military guy like Captain America would surely have some sort of perimeter guard(s) to make sure that a potential threat (like Spider-Woman, who may or may not be a terrorist, government agent or superhero) doesn't just walk right in. Oh, and then she cries because she has nowhere else to go. Next issue, the Sentry is focused on and I wish I had that issue instead of this one.

On the whole, it actually wasn't a bad read . . . as long as you check your brain at the door, which I imagine was the intent. I know it's strange to quibble about "realism" in a book involving a lady who can stick to walls and shoot electricity out of her hands, but that's just part of the internal logic of the genre. Maybe dumb, highly ineffective terrorists are too. Actually, of course they are! Nice job, Bendis!