New Avengers #34
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Leinil Yu
Okay, confession time: I dislike Brian Bendis. I think he’s a talented writer on character pieces, but is cast way above his head on titles like this. Nothing I have seen has persuaded me otherwise, with his first three arcs on New Avengers and Disassembled being particularly devoid of proper structure and set up. He’s still a good writer on smaller arcs, and he’s quite good at Luke Cage and Spider-man, two characters featured in this book, so, because this book is supposed to be less event driven, I decided to give this issue a shot.
The set up here is that these secret Avengers decided to break up to see if they trusted each other enough to remain a team. The impetus for this break up is the discovery that Elektra was a Skrull, a shape changing alien. Wolverine stumbled upon another villain during this breakup period and here we pick up the action as he battles the Hood.
We have a big fight to start, where Wolverine basically gets manhandled, establishing the Hood as a threat. It’s a fine fight, moving on.
From there we go to a series of character pieces. There’s a terrible conversation between Iron Fist and Dr. Strange, which accomplishes nothing and is as garbled as possible. That shouldn’t have gotten past the editor. Actually the entire proceeding scenes have exactly the same flaw. They have a point, they just use some very iffy dialogue to get it across in what appears to be very nearly a series on non sequiturs. This is just bad. The conversation jumps around too much and the characters aren’t maintaining a tone. The basic point is there are trust issues about who is and is not a Skrull, but we knew that, and all this scene did was reiterate in an unclear manner.
Conveniently, however, Dr. Strange is on the team and can fix it all by revealing everyone’s inner nature with a spell. A wizard on the team offers way too cheap a way of solving plot issues, a temptation Bendis doesn’t seem able to resist. None are Skrulls and the Avengers go off to face the next threat.
This issue is bad. Everything is being swept under the table for the next big event, but worse, besides Spidey, the character’s voices seem inconsistent and the dialogue, once Bendis’s strength, is actually difficult to follow and grating. These are good characters and a good book can be done with them. This is not it.