The Avengers #13
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Chris Bachalo
I never actually expected Bendis to work the oral history of the Avengers that has been running in the back of the Avengers books into an actual story, but he does that here. It’s…actually kinda funny. Bendis mashes up with Chris Bachalo in this issue that sort of reminds readers everywhere of just what talking heads can be, as we have thirty-six panels across the first three pages. This issue is noted as a Fear Itself tie in, which I’ll be honest, almost caused me to just skip it, but it’s more of a set up than a tie in, and I think that makes the issue work a bit better.
There are books where I’ll jump down Bendis’s throat for using the talking heads style and padding an issue out with reused art and obnoxious back and forth bickering, and thankfully this isn’t one of those times. From panel to panel we got from character to character during various points in the Avengers history, with a heavy focus on the bigger events they’ve had to tackle. Interestingly enough, most of these events are simply titles before the next panel features another character mentioning another, and that’s another thing I like; there’s more impact in the names then the endless descriptions, and it makes the talking heads approach sit better. Not to mention that when the book switches over from the history of the team to an actual current event that the humor picks up.
There are a few events covered at length, like a two page sequence of Red Hulk disgusting people with his eating of eggs and then scaring the daylights out of Noh-Varr’s girlfriend, and then the true lengthy one is showing what the Avengers did after the announcement that Stark will help rebuild Asgard. The story turns focus to Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman and what else but dating talk. Love is in the air, or at least they tease as much…though if you look at the August solicits, and the cover and preview for Avengers that month….yeah, they kinda spoiled that one. I won’t, but Marvel did. The whole sequence in Asgard is pretty enjoyable, and I mean, Volstagg hitting on Ms. Marvel is all kinds of awesome for as brief as it is, and Spider-Woman’s girl talk with Carol is some of the first spotlight I can remember seeing Jess get in a while. I will say that the foreshadowed couple is a bit uneven, as I don’t fully buy him being nearly as interested as he comes across in this issue, but I can’t say much without spoilers.
Chris Bachalo is a very welcome addition to this title, and I’ll go ahead and say that this is far and away the best this book has looked since it launched. Bachalo’s style is perfect for the kind of story Bendis is telling, as his character work is strong enough that every last talking head panel has the same level of detail, and given the nature of these panels, Bachalo gets to draw not only a wide variety of Avengers, but their various looks from over the years. It’s almost a better showcase for his abilities than the splashpages, and the double pager at the beginning of the book looks incredible. I also love his rendition of Red Hulk, and the scale of him compared to the others makes him just look monstrous, and yet…in a period of downtime, he looks non-threatening. It’s also always a pleasure to see Bachalo draw Wolverine and Spider-Man, but to be real honest? It’s nice to see Spider-Woman not look like she’s deformed for the first time since this book launched. Bachalo’s version of Jessie Drew is one of my favorite things about this issue, and why I think they should just move Romita off of this title and let Chris be the Avengers guy. This issue looks beautiful, and this is some of the best art I’ve seen from Bachalo in years…and I say this as someone who has enjoyed every single Bachalo pencilled story since the Age of Apocalypse anniversary, which was just bad all around. He’s usually really freaking good, or great, but he takes it to another level altogether here. Maybe it’s the inking, I don’t care, keep this art team around!
For the past few months I’ve come in to every issue of Avengers wondering if it would be my last, and last issue almost was. I’m not really psyched about Fear Itself, and Avengers has been one of my on the fence titles, so I was rationalizing dropping this title. Chris Bachalo sold the title to me, as I knew it would at least look good, and then Bendis secured himself a story arc with a fun lead in with a tone that nobody does better than him. Everything about this issue clicks, and while nothing really happens, I find myself not caring about that fact. It’s an incredibly enjoyable story that looks stunning, there are plenty of great character moments, and hey, the History of the Avengers segments Bendis has been doing finally get a little payoff. Talking heads working in Avengers, who would have thought it possible? So I think I’ll wrap up by saying one thing….
KEEP CHRIS BACHALO ON THIS BOOK!
Tags: Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, Fear Itself, Reviews, The Avengers