Things continuing spiraling out of control for The New Avengers, thanks to the machinations of Norman Osborn. This issue opens with the Federal Government attempting to seize Avengers Mansion, which is technically a private residence. Osborn’s claims of mistreatment have sparked a grassroots anti-Avengers movement among the population and the grounds of Avengers Mansion is occupied by outraged protesters, who are nearly caught in the crossfire as Luke Cage angrily lashes out, erroneously thinking his wife Jessica and baby Danielle are still inside the Mansion. (They departed last issue, with Jessica petrified over the safety of Danielle after Norman Osborn directly threatened to kill her.)
Osborn’s evil Avengers cheerfully watch the escalating fiasco from their base, until Dr. Strange’s cooler head prevails and he whisks the team off to his Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village. Wong informs Luke that Jessica and their nanny Squirrel Girl took the baby and fled, leaving behind Jessica’s phone, so that Luke has no way to find her. Despite the team’s turmoil, Luke storms off to find Jessica and Danielle.
The rest of the team have suspected Victoria Hand of working against them. Now they are sure and they confront her as she is packing to disappear. Wolverine confronts her solo, solemnly asking, “You know what I hate more than anything in the world? Hitting a dame.” Luckily, Mockingbird doesn’t share this impediment and socks Victoria soundly. They interrogate her pretty drastically and her explanation of who she was really working for made my head hurt.
Madame Hydra shows Gorgon (evil Wolverine) the captive Captain America and they pair plot to betray Norman. Speaking of Norman, he can fly now. And blow stuff up, apparently. And has super strength. Huh. Anyway, the Avengers have Victoria contact him to tell him that they are surrendering. Meanwhile, the evil Avengers find themselves betrayed by one of their own.
The art by Mike Deodato and Will Conrad, as always is incredible. All those tiny hash marks never fail to impress me. How they have time to render them all in 30 days is astounding! Overall, the storytelling is quite cinematic. The anatomy and facial expressions are perfect. The color pallet, by Rain Beredo, is a tad on the drab side. I suppose that adds to the darkness of this particular storyline. I was okay with it, but I could see some finding it too dark.
In terms of story, in this election year, I get it. It’s a play on the Tea Party movement and the “Occupy” fad. And there is a balance with straight up superheroics. I suppose this is nothing new. Spidey tackled the drug epidemic of the late sixties. Captain America dealt with a Watergate-esque conspiracy which resulted in him giving up his title. But maybe it’s that politics have gotten dirtier in the real world, but I found this an unwelcome element in my “escapist” comic book fiction. Plus, I mean DC did a similar “public turns against its heroes” miniseries called ‘Legends’ about twenty years ago. Heck, technically, that was the basis for Marvel’s ‘Civil War!’
This is Brian Michael Bendis’ swansong on this title, which he helped revitalize in 2005. I kind of expected more than just a rehash of his “greatest hits.”
NEW AVENGERS #22
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Mike Deodato & Will Conrad
Cover by Deodati & Rain Beredo