Norman Osborn’s gettin’ the band back together. This time he’s got a lot more help than his insane other half of his personality.
New Avengers #18
Norman Osborn’s getting major support from A.I.M., Hydra, and the Hand. They are helping to build H.A.M.M.E.R. into something less like S.H.I.E.L.D. and more like a scary military of the incredibly rich and insane. At the forefront will be Osborn and his new team of personal Avengers. He goes the Savage Land to collect Skaar, Son of Hulk. They pick up Clint Barton’s equally skilled, but criminal, brother. They go to Brazil to create a new Spider-Man out of an actual half-gigantoid spider/half-man named Ai Apaec (I believe that is his name? Is this a new character?). Osborn charms a lady right out of her clothes and eventually gets her to dress up like a blond Scarlet Witch. He gets a guy named Gorgon to be his Wolverine (he recently had something to do with Wolverine in his series), and perhaps worst of all, he gets his grubby little goblin hands on Ragnarok, the evil Thor clone.
I admit I do have a love-hate relationship with Brian Michael Bendis. This relationship only extends to his Avengers titles. All other books he’s ever written have been fairly decent or fit his style of writing very nicely, but when it comes to Avengers and New Avengers, I do struggle. While the New Avengers don’t show up at all in this issue, this is one of those issues that I think he nails pretty effectively. I could say something glib like “he nails it because he doesn’t have the actual New Avengers in there ploppin’ around and acting like a bunch of amateurs.” but I’ll actually point out the for real goodness of this issue instead.
It all begins with Norman Osborn. It’s obvious that Bendis has added this heavy hitter to his stable of “pet characters”. Right from the very end of Secret Invasion, you knew this guy was going to go in a new direction. He’s shifted again, but this time he’s not really hiding his headful of crazy anymore. He can just be brutal and lethal on the surface. This is definitely a plus. Osborn seems to really get off on being the bad guy. He doesn’t hide it, he doesn’t try to make up for it. He’s freakin’ evil and loves it. In fact, he may be the one villain at Marvel that enjoys being bad more than anyone else. He’s always got an angle and he’ll do whatever it takes and bowl over whoever he needs to in order to meet his goals and desires. You have to love and hate the guy. By “hate”, I really mean that you hate him in all the right ways as a villain.
Next, you’ve got Osborn flat out enjoying the leaders of the Hand, A.I.M., and Hydra groveling at his feet. They have all these resources but manage to lose every time. They’re sick of it, Osborn knows they are sick of it, and they will do anything to finally win. Osborn knows that as well. There is a particular scene that I very much liked during these interludes. It’s when Gorgon spots the demon inside Osborn’s head. Here’s a big dude with crazy Hand powers sifting through a middle-aged, and much smaller, man. He finds and reveals what he’s found and what does Osborn do? With an icy stare, Osborn tells Gorgon that he best stay away from them. Everyone in the room knows this guy isn’t taking crap from anyone and he’s the real deal – crazy and all. I really liked that scene. It really puts Osborn on top without needing to sell these people anything. He does it through being himself. Very effective.
Finally, there’s the members of his new Avengers team. They are short moments, but they introduce the new team by seeing them in their elements. I honestly don’t know anything about the spider guy, but I have massive arachnophobia, so on a visual level that scene made my skin crawl. I also have no idea who June Covington is, but she seems to be a little bonkers herself. These characters are interesting and on a visual level (be it the spider dude’s grotesque figure or Covington’s facial expression when she agrees to “dress up” to be on Osborn’s Avengers), and I instantly want to know more about them.
So mix a good recipe of Bendis building a team and being able to use his style of dialog to his advantage in the short scenes to gather the new Dark Avengers, and Mike Deodato’s fantastic artwork (even going so far to use the same lighting as the old Dark Avengers series that he and Bendis worked on), and you’ve got, at the very least, a solid start to what could be a very good arc.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Interesting characters, some new-to-me characters that I want to know about, and great art from Deodato.||I found little to really nitpick about but some might wonder where the New Avengers actually are during all this business.|