Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson
Why is it that everytime I get ready to check out on this book Bendis turns in an issue that makes me want to keep giving it a chance? I’ve finally come around to accepting Romita’s art for what it is, which is only made simpler because this issue is big action. On top of that, rather then going with the talking heads approach that he’s oh-so-famous for, Bendis sticks to a simpler, more concise style of telling the story. The end result? An incredibly readable issue that reminds a cynic like me that there’s a reason that he’s Marvel’s Golden Boy. Is the issue perfect? Not at all. But I don’t regret buying it.
The first thing Bendis does in this issue actually really bothered me until I got a few pages deep, because he doesn’t have the best track record with big time threats and epic Marvel moments. So naturally, I saw Uatu on page one and was expecting The Watcher to get maimed as a way of putting over the Infinity Gem fueled Hood. Thankfully does Bendis not only not do that, but he uses Uatu as a framing device for the issue. Sure, characters talk and do their own thing, but the story is told by The Watcher’s narration. It slows the pacing down, but it gets across a nice effect. Not so much the “this is the end of everything” moment that the character is generally brought in for, rather, giving the book a more epic feel. This fabled third party who only shows up to watch the most defining of moments, both good and bad, his voice telling the story makes it feel more important. It’s like watching Wrestlemania and hearing Jim Ross call the main event, it just feels more epic that way.
As for the goings on of the issue as a whole, it was a lot of Hood vs. fights, as he opened up against Thor, Namor, and Rulk, and then the Avengers army Steve has been leading, and at one point, while brandishing the mind empowering Mind Gem, has a battle of the minds with Professor X. Bendis does a great job making him feel like a real threat, while at the same time not short changing any of the heroes involved. Rulk manages to strip Hood of one of his gems, and Xavier puts his title of most powerful psychic in the world on the line against someone with phenomenal cosmic mind powers. The Hood really is the star of this issue, as he has been this entire arc…and for a good chunk of New Avengers when Luke Cage wasn’t getting all of the man love. Bendis like this BKV character, and I can’t say I blame him. I miss the angle with the girlfriend and daughter, and the fact that I never read the Dark Reign mini is probably why, but I do love the way Bendis plays up the lust for power. Parker is a guy who had a taste of incredible power and liked it, he liked the power, the control, and he didn’t want to be without it. The usually in control Parker is clearly no longer in control, the Gems take their hold, and it’s made overly clear…oddly in a non-obnoxious way, and you start to wonder just how much of Parker is really there by this point.
The art has been the most inconsistent part of this title so far, and that’s saying a lot. Some issues look good, others are hideous. This is one of the better issues, and while I can’t claim to know what they did differently, the issue looks pretty damn good. Romita does action well and it carries the issue nicely. The Hood’s metamorphosis as he takes on more and more power leaves him looking especially creepy, and the look evolves as the issue goes on. The Xavier vs Hood scene is one page broken up into a lot of panels, and I absolutely loved it. Spider-Woman still looks freaking awful though.
It was a good issue, I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t great, or overly must read, but it was a lot of fun. I’m figuring that the entire arc will be a hell of a read when it gets collected, but I’m not reviewing that. The art was better this issue, the story was paced nicely, the focused narration of Uatu really helped drive the story in the right direction, and we got a last page cliffhanger return that I should have seen coming. I’d really like to see this book scale down it’s approach to storytelling, and allow Bendis to get back to the character work he’s known for, but if he can turn out more issues like this I’ll support his attempts at going big. The depth he gives his villain really makes the story that much better, and the respect he gives to characters like Xavier go a long way. I’ll finish out this arc and then see how I feel about the future, but he’s definitely got me for another issue.
Tags: Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis, john romita jr, Reviews