The last arc was the Avengers taking on Norman Osborn's version of the Avengers and was annoying split across two titles (annoying for those that don't read both at least!) That arc has wrapped so it's time for a new one, except it's not really a new arc as such but a tie in to the AvX event.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Associate Editor:||Lauren Sankovitch|
|Writer:||Brian Michael Bendis|
|Artist:||Mike Deodato, Jr., Will Conrad|
|Cover Art:||Mike Deodato, Jr., Rain Beredo|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
The opening page has a recap and shows the team line-up. The recap is fine but the team line up bit became redundant long ago with the Avenger teams frequently switching and crossing over. When you have a pool of Avengers surely you pick a team based on mission specs and the whole set teams of Avengers, Secret Avengers, New Avengers, etc is a bit silly. Anyway, the story:
A team of Avengers (including Spider-Man and Spider-Woman) are on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier over Utopia watching Captain America talk to Cyclops about who gets to look after Hope Summers. Mockingbird mentions the recent Spider-Island arc, telling us when this story is set. Cyke blasts Cap and so the Avengers are assembled. As they leap out of the Helicarrier, Red Hulk is given them a pep talk, telling them to fight smart and not above their level, that they are not fighting friends but protecting the Earth.
Flashback to yesterday. There are still protesters outside Avengers Mansion following on from Norman Osborn’s smear campaign. Just for a change, the New Avengers are eating (seriously is that all they do when they aren’t out fighting the bad guys – maybe play poker). Spidey is joking with Wolverine about how Logan now head of a school, again telling us when the story is set. Iron Fist goes outside to talk to the protesters when Luke Cage shows up. Luke tells the protesters to go home, that Osborn was playing them and then uses the live TV feed to appeal to his wife to come home (remember how Norman freaked her out so she ran away with their baby and to protect her). Conveniently Jess turns up at that point. They have a looong (but needed) talk, Jess wants to quit the Super Hero business and look after their child; Luke agrees little Danielle is the most important thing, but he wants his ‘career’ too. Before they can decide what they are going to do, Iron Fist interrupts them. Iron Man has arrived and has summoned every Avenger to a meeting.
The Phoenix is on the way, Captain America believes it is targeting Hope Summers. Storm ups and leaves (annoying her husband Black Panther – and me frankly, she’s only just joined the Avengers!). Cap wants to remove Hope off planet to protect the Earth as the Phoenix can be very destructive. The Avengers are pretty certain Cyclops isn’t just going to let them take Hope, so they need to be ready to fight. Avengers assemble without Jessica Jones but with Luke Cage, decision made and leading us back to the scene of Avengers leaping into battle from earlier.
With a line wide saga called Avengers vs X-Men you expect it to turn up in the Avengers comics. However, this issue is only set up for AvX and predominantly closure of the Norman Osborn arc. The closure is good and needed, but it’s classic Bendis with a lot of dialogue, i.e. heck of a lot of speech bubbles taking up most of the panels. Whilst there is a lot of talk, it was needed. So many arcs finish and we practically hear nothing about them again; the next issue everything is back to how it was. Here we have the protesters outside of Avengers mansion addressed, the return of a frightened Jessica Jones and Luke Cage dealing with both. There were also a few lines of dialogue acknowledging the recent stories in comics outside of Avengers (namely Spider-Island and Schism). Always a nice nod to readers of multiple comics and good to say when stories are set with regard to each other, just in case something significant has happened. It helps continuity freaks like me as well!
There is one major gripe I have with this issue though: Why tell it in flashback? The opening pages we see the Avengers on the Helicarrier in case the worst happens. Who is there with them? – Luke Cage. We then have the flashback including the discussion between Luke and Jess and whether he will pick his family or the team? WE ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER! He shouldn’t have been included in the earlier scenes, so that the final page of Luke leaping into battle about to smack Cyclops across Utopia would be even more dramatic. To turn over the page and go “Man, he picked the team over his family” – but no, we already knew. Wasted moment there I thought.
I quite like the art in general. The scene of the Avengers meeting, fitting every Avenger in was good. As were the discussion scenes with Luke and Jess; some great use of lights and darks to help set the tone. However, there is a two page splash of the Avengers leaping into battle that was split into panels for no real reason, which is a bit of a shame to divide a cool picture. The Spider characters were pretty much cameos, apart from a bit of time-line setting dialogue from Spider-Man, so nothing there to report really.
Let’s see where the rest of story goes and hope I don’t need to pick up a dozen different comics to follow what’s going on. I’m all for tie-in issues but they should be self contained enough to allow Avengers readers to enjoy a story without needing to be picking up all of the X-Men titles and some others as well.
Some needed tying up of ends following the last arc and the set up to the next one. Nothing special though and half a mark off for ruining the last few pages by including Luke Cage in the opening ones.
During this event I'm only going to be reading Avengers and New Avengers, hopefully recap pages (and the internet) will fill me in on any significant events in the tie ins though.
Also as all the AvX reviews are written well after the event had finished, they will be written from the point of view taken at the time and I'll make clear any after thoughts I have post-event.