Several months ago I reviewed the first issue of the newest volume (5? 7? 10056?) of The Avengers, written by Brian Michael Bendis with pictures by John Romita, Jr. The results of that book were unsatisfying to say the least. The story was weak and JR, Jr. was mailing it in like Karl Malone. Here we are, a few installments in, and it’s time to see how the book is currently fairing.
We open on the team shortly after they’ve been forced to split into two groups, one to fight a massive amount of time stream flotsam suddenly dropped into the middle of New York and the second to head off into the future and fix the problem. The team on the ground runs into steadily cascading badness. Pterodactyls share the sky with futuristic flying machines and blimps. The ground level is invaded by old time gangs straight out of a Scorsese movie, future heroes, a pink T-rex and invading martians. The insanity continues until our heroes have little else to do than throw up their hands and shrug their shoulders.
It’s the future where the real meat is taking place. Iron Man, Wolverine and the Bucky Captain America along with Noh-Varr warp into the middle of the end of the world. It’s a major throw down and everyone, absolutely everyone is in attendance, including the kids for the animated movie Next Avengers, who make short work of our heroes before dumping them in front of the Maestro and his shadowy partner.
That’s a lot of story, something I respect. Even better, this feels like a real story. Sure the overall arc doesn’t get wrapped up, but things move forward and a person reading just this single issue gets a lot of bang for their buck. Yes, there is a pretty brutal cliffhanger, but I’m actually excited to pick this up next month and that shows major improvement since its launch.
This isn’t to say everything is sweet in Candy Land. Brain Michael Bendis will not shut up with his inane chatter. There’s times where I felt I should check the cover to make sure I wasn’t reading an Ultimate book. The guy writes good -- sometimes great -- stories, but enough is enough. Witty-ish dialogue does not hide the fact that an author is spewing pure expositional drivel. Let the pretty pictures do the work every once in awhile, or maybe even... give the reader a smidge of credit and let them fill in the holes.
On the other side of things, Mr. Romita has really picked up his game. I’m not sure if he was being worked a bit too hard, or if he really shines when the action is flying, but damn this is some good stuff. Emotive, bright, fun, JR, Jr. is at the top of his game, and damn it’s good times.
If you’ve been waiting for things to get interesting, or you were scared off by the first issue, give this book another shot. It’s pretty solid and worth checking out.