The Avengers #12
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson
I think this issue may have had the most hype going into it out of the entire arc, not because of who had which Infinity Gem, but because of the promise that the Mad Titan would be in it after his stunning and random return last issue. Now, I may be bursting some bubbles here, but it isn’t Thanos, so if you’re here to find out if there was some retcon or if the Thanos Imperitive was being ignored, good news, Bendis didn’t wipe out the work of Abnett and Lanning. What Thanos is, however, is someone who preys on The Hood by using his knowledge and experience as a weapon, albeit a faulty one.
The Hood has been the star of this arc, but I feel like Bendis just stripped him of his character for this issue. He comes across more like a power hungry child than anything else, which is a shame because….that isn’t who he is. He’s not some jaded “power is all that matters to me” guy, at least not by nature. Power has always been a means to an end, even through this arc. It’s hard for me to believe that the same guy who went and fixed Madame Masque’s face a few issues ago is screaming at super heroes for being rich hypocrites that want power as badly as he does. It could be said that a line foreshadowed this a few issues ago when it was mentioned that the gems corrupt the user, but he doesn’t come across as corrupted by the gyms. He comes across as a man who is jaded to the point where he sees nothing that matters aside from power, when before he was always able to find some level of personal happiness.
Red Hulk, or Rulk, or General Thunderbolt Ross, has come into his own over the past few issues…well, his only issues in the book. While I’ll admit it’s hard for me to like him after the abomination that was Jeph Loeb’s run on Hulk, he’s by far the best written charater in this book. He’s also very non-Ross like. It’s the Bendis flair, what can I say, nobody’s characterization matches up with what you’d expect, but it doesn’t tend to bother you for whatever reason. In this case it’s because Bendis does a nice job showing us just why having a Hulk on the team is important, as having an unstopple engine of Red destruction pays off. The fight through the multiverse was odd, but kinda cool in concept.
The art in this book continues Romita’s recent string of passable but head shaking work. Sure, it’s better than the worst issues of this book, but for some reason I just keep remembering how much better everything he did would look and I think I’m knocking on him for that. The issue isn’t visually stunning, but it does look good, and I have to give more credit to that multiverse fight for being inspired, though the black and white back drops of other artists work was somewhat weird behind the Romita fight scene. There are moments where everything cleans up, usually with close ups, but most character appear from a distance and those characters tend to look, well, awful.
The end of this book is what will really have people talking, not so much due to shock factor, but because it’s just one of those kinds of cliffhangers. It doesn’t leave you wondering what’s coming next issue, but it does make you wonder when Bendis will eventually get back to it. I mean, the next non-point one issue of this book is a Fear Itself tiein…so yeah, I don’t see the end getting picked up on for a bit. Honestly, I miss smaller scale stories from Bendis, as his attempts at going super epic have been falling relativetly flat. This issue isn’t bad, it’s just not very good either. It’s been a year, and while he understands that you can use big name characters and plot devices, the book lacks any true impact. Bendis works fine inside of his own bubble, playing in his own sandbox, but it just works so much better when his sandbox isn’t an ensemble book featuring the biggest name characters in the company.
Tags: Brian Michael Bendis, Infinity Gems, john romita jr, Reviews, The Avengers