Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogathon 06: New Avengers: Breakout

[Discussed in this post: New Avengers #1-6.]

And so it begins...

Okay, I'm on my fifth post of Bendis's Avengers stuff, so it obviously already began, but, to most people, this is where it really begins. Avengers Disassembled was a board-clearing thing, the other books barely noticed. New Avengers: Breakout is where Bendis's Avengers work really begins as he creates the most controversial team in Avengers history with a line-up of Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, Sentry, and Ronin. Personally, I love the line-up Bendis creates here, because it fits with the first Avengers line-up: a bunch of random heroes thrown together. That's what we've got here and it works for me.

Especially as Bendis goes out of his way to have Captain America spell out for us that this is just like that first time! It's fate! There's a breakout at the Raft and the heroes that arrive on scene to settle down the riot form the team later after Cap takes it all as a sign that it was meant to be. Of course, those characters being there is simply a result of Bendis writing those characters there, but whatever, Cap doesn't know that.

Electro breaks into the Raft to break Sauron out -- and why not everyone else at the same time? He was hired by Mysterious Shadow People that won't be revealed until much later (quick hint: SKRULLS!). The plot of this story falls into three parts: the breakout, the assembling of the team, and the hunt for Sauron in the Savage Land. It's all pretty good. The fight scenes work, as do the dialogue ones. I think it falls apart towards the end as Bendis just doesn't know how to end it. The whole Sauron stuff is just kind of... lame.

One thing I didn't like was how we knew who the team would be right from the get-go. That makes Wolverine's appearance at the end of issue four not as surprising as it should have been -- and he appears in issue four, because he's the final missing element just like Captain America was, who re-appeared in Avengers #4! I would have liked the make-up of the team left a surprise, because it is a surprising line-up.

Let's examine the line-up a little. Captain America and Iron Man are obvious choices, but this also sets up their feud in Civil War (even though that wasn't planned at the time). Spider-Man and Wolverine are insanely popular, so if you're going to make New Avengers a flagship book, sticking them in it doesn't hurt. Luke Cage and Spider-Woman are Bendis's pet characters and every new team line-up has those -- every one, so don't pretend like Bendis invented it. Ronin is a mystery and a means to a different story. The Sentry is an attempt to bring a somewhat forgotten character into the spotlight. I think it's a solid, balance line-up. A little light on the women, but Jessica Jones adds some of that as an unofficial member via her past membership and relationship with Luke.

In a content/promise of content comparison, Breakout sets up a lot, but it does so by giving us a lot. A rogue element of SHIELD, Mysterious Shadow People, what's up with the Sentry, 40-someodd supervillains escaped... all loose threads, but the formation of the new team and official introduction of Maria Hill as the new Director of SHIELD more than outbalance that. A lot happens here.

And yet, I find myself not having a lot of material to discuss per se. As I said, this story works for the first 2/3s, but falls apart in the Savage Land with a confrontation with the Black Widow II and a rogue SHIELD unit. Maybe it's just that I don't care about the Savage Land, but maybe it's also I don't know why Sauron was involved. Even knowing what the rogue SHIELD group was and why they were in the Savage Land, I'm not sure why they wanted Sauron out -- especially when it resulted in tipping off SHIELD the rogue element. It doessn't add up for me.

David Finch is again on art and he again isn't that great. He can still do action, but not talking. The talking pages are just brutal to see.

But, something you may be asking yourself is "Who is this Sentry guy?" Aha! I've anticipated your question and will answer it in 30 minutes when I discuss The Sentry.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]