New Avengers #50
Let me just say up front that the battle you were expecting this issue plays out in a far different way than most readers are anticipating. That being said, the question of does that impact the overall importance of this story in the greater Marvel Universe? That answer would be no, as a matter of fact the outcome of the battle this issue has an instantaneous impact on the MU when Clint Barton steps up and puts the Dark Avengers on notice in a manner that most people will have no problem believing.
This issue is probably one of the best mainstream super hero stories I have read from Brian Bendis since the first issue of Secret Invasion. From the opening scene to Clint’s final moment the pacing this issue was spot on as Bendis clearly demonstrates his ability to quickly shift scenes while keeping focus of the larger story. From Mockingbirds enjoyment of the fight to Wolverine’s “kill” mentality, the inner thoughts of most of the heroes sounded refreshing and actually felt like they were from different people. I especially enjoyed Bendis’ use of Spider-Man’s constant banter to add some levity to a few scenes that come across as unnecessarily melodramatic.
One of the biggest problems this series still has to be its lack of development of any noticeable sub-plots. This issue we do get an acknowledgement on the status of Doctor Strange, which also garners one of the funniest lines of the issue, but it is a two-panel acknowledgement and no real development of the plot has been established beyond that moment. That being said Bendis is wise to use this issue to ease a lot of readers concerns about the seemingly free reign Norman Osborn has been getting since the outcome of Secret Invasion. I also enjoyed the brief character moments that make up the bulk of the battle. Bendis’ use of guests artists was well-done as each New Avenger is given a moment in the spotlight.
Of the special guest artists I have to give kudos to David Aja for his spectacular Iron Fist scene, the fluid motion of Danny Rand is expressed perfectly by Aja’s art style. Also worth mentioning is Steve Epting’s superb Captain America scene which felt like an authentic Captain America moment – at least until Bucky drew his gun (which is perfectly in character for him).
This issue also features the talents of Brian Hitch (double page team shot), Michael Gaydos (Luke Cage), David Lopez (Hawkeye and Mockingbird), Alex Maleev (Spider-Woman), Steve McNiven (Spider-Man), Lenil Yu (Wolverine) and Greg Horn (Ms Marvel) all of whom rendered their individual scenes with varying degrees of success depending on reader tastes. I quite enjoyed them all and thought they added a nice flourish to the issue. While these individual moments were entertaining, the majority of the issue does fall on the shoulders of current series artist Billy Tan and he shows just how much he has grown as an artist with this issue.
It is obvious that Tan is getting comfortable drawing the group and is getting especially adept in his ability to relay emotion which really helps to sell the story. Spider-Woman’s angst is visible in various scenes as she tries to come to terms with her current status as the face of the averted Skrull invasion. Also benefiting from Tan’s growing talent is Clint Barton, whose anger is all but palpable as he comes to the realization that the Hood and Osborn are working together. Tan does have some rough spots, especially when dealing with perspective and some strange anatomical choices but the overall strength of his work this issue somewhat minimizes these distractions.
While New Avengers #50 may not be a perfect issue mainly due to some corny dialog and inconsistent art the overall effect of the issue has me excited for the Marvel Universe in a way that I have not felt since the first issue of Secret Wars came out and I could not wait to discover why She-Hulk was part of the Fantastic Four or why Spider-Man was sporting an alien costume. With a solid story and some eye-catching art, Brian Bendis continues to explore one of the darkest moments in Marvel history in a fun yet believable manner, at least in a world full of people who wear spandex and have powers far beyond those of mortal men.