Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by John Romita Jr
The quest is on to find the Infinity Gems, as unbeknownst to the Avengers, Parker “The Hood” Robbins makes his way to pick up his third. After a few issues of background and Illuminati action, this issue splits the groups into three teams to go after the various gems that are still around. It’s a fetch quest issue, as each of the groups has to complete uncompletable challenges to get their gems, but at no point do you ever feel like there’s any danger aside from Hood showing up first.
For instance, Namor takes Rulk and Thor to the bottom of the ocean to get his gem, and they fight big giant super deep water fish. Namor put the gem somewhere only he could go, and yet he can bring two air breathers with him to fetch it. This would be far more interesting if, well, it didn’t feel generic. Not only is his randomly deep under water, which makes sense for Namor, but again, how impossible can it be to retrieve if he can bring two guys who live on land and breath air? The same goes for Xavier using some super advanced Danger Room esque device to hold his safe, sure, the guys actually get hit, but does anyone believe that they won’t get the gem? Stark’s was even weaker than that, a super secret vault? Brilliant, perfect for hiding something from someone who doesn’t know where they’re going and doesn’t teleport.
I normally enjoy issues like this, as they leave promise for the next issues focusing more on the conflict than the journey, but the journey just felt cheap and rushed. The events of this issue could have been stretched across two or three issues, with more depth and detail given to the individual parts, but instead we just get a quick A to B, so next issue we can see Rulk and Thor get into a fight.
I’m not impressed. I want to be impressed, this arc so far had been getting me to rethink my opinion on this title, but then it just fails utterly like this. Some of the issue really does work, but most of it just falls flat. On top of that, the art is just…..I never thought I would say this, but can we get Romita off of this book? A few pages look great, but the rest is just a nasty ugly mess. Put him on a solo title, give him characters he can draw and don’t try and Perez him. He’s a superstar artist and this book has him looking like a rank amateur. I’m a Romita fan, I loved his Spider-Man, his Thor, hell, even various times with Hulk and Iron Man. He’s the iconic Marvel style, but this book makes his World War Hulk look like his Amazing Spider-Man.
Then, of course, the issue ends to set up a big fight scene next issue, which will probably be a hundred times better than the fetch quests we got this issue. This book is just….look, Bendis, New Avengers is fine, but maybe you should take a page out of Ed Brubaker’s book and let some new blood take over this title. I guarantee that Nick Spencer on Secret Avengers will be better than Bru, and I guarantee that if you got someone like Christos Gage or Matt Fraction on this title it would be the kind of new life that would remind readers that this is supposed to be a flagship book, not an ugly after thought.
In fact, the best part of this entire issue is that they reprint Abnett and Lanning’s Heroes for Hire #1 in it’s entirety, so at least there is a good readable book in this. It just isn’t the one you’re paying for.
Tags: Brian Michael Bendis, Infinity Gems, john romita jr, Reviews, The Avengers, The Hood, The Illuminati