Saturday, January 07, 2006

TPB REVIEW - The New Avengers Vol. 1

The New Avengers Vol. 1 - Breakout
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: David Finch
Inker: Danny Miki with Mark Morales, Allen Martinez & Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Frank D'Armata
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Albert Deschesne

I was not going to pick up this series. I have never really liked the Avengers as I always thought of them as a crappy knock-off of the JLA. I particularly did not like the Avengers Disassembled storyline which I thought was sensationalist crap of the lowest order (don’t even get me started on the House of M.) Finally Marvel announced that Wolverine was going to be on the team because they felt he was an underused character that had some marketing potential. (Please note: The last half of the previous sentence is pure, 100% sarcasm.)

My friend Trent repeatedly told me how good the series was, however I would respond that it clearly sucked ass. The market information bears him out as, for example, issue 4 of the series sold an estimated 155,113 copies in March and placed second in sales for the month to the DC Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot, and for the first twelve issues of the series is sold an average of 157,106 copies per month and was consistently in the top ten in sales each month. Here is a chart comparing the average sales per month of the New Avengers, Wovlerine, Superman, the Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, and Amazing Spider-Man (books I thought would have a resonable following and that even the casual reader would be aware of.)

Then the sneaky bastards went and did something that guaranteed I would buy a couple of issues. They hired Frank Cho to do the art for issues 14 and 15 of the series. Marvel, I shake my fist of impotent fury at you! Frank Cho is one of the few artists out there whose involvement on a book will ensure I pick it up. So I picked up issue 14 last week and enjoyed the read. I usually enjoy Bendis’ writing, however lately on Daredevil he has been pissing me off. Enough of this whiney Daredevil being setup and his identity being revealed and then not revealed and so on and so forth. I want some heroic action, dammit. That’s what I read superhero comics for.

The New Avengers delivers the heroic action I crave in spades.

The New Avengers begins with a bang. Six months after the events detailed in the Avengers Disassembled story arc, a shadowy figure hires Max “Electro” Dillon to break someone out of the Raft, a maximum security prison for super-powered beings. During the breakout, in which 42 of the 87 inmates held on the Raft escape, Matt “Daredevil” Murdock, Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and Robert “Sentry” Reynolds all get drawn into the action. This gets Captain America thinking. “…there’s this – a balance to the city, to the country, that we, inadvertently, by ending the Avengers…we threw the balance out of whack,” he explains to Tony Stark, “A team needs to be in place. Things like this – what happened last night – this is exactly why there needs to be an Avengers.”

With that the new team is assembled, with everyone agreeing except Daredevil, who feels the problems in his life would bleed over and taint the Avengers. There are some changes, however. Gone are the days of government involvement in the Avengers. No more salaries. Tony Stark claims that he cannot provide the level of material support to the Avengers that he once did, however he manages to have a prototype of the next-generation Quinjet all ready to go.

Overall I really enjoyed this trade, which collects the first six issues of the series. The story flowed very well and was fast-paced, despite Bendis’ fondness for the decompressed story. The book breaks down into about 140 pages of story with a collection of alternate covers in the back. A bit of a bare-bones collection, but in the end worth the $14.99 price-tag. I will be purchasing the second trade paperback when it comes out, and I have a feeling that this is how I will collect this series, with the exceptions of the Frank Cho issues. I have a feeling that had I read these issues independently over the six or so months it took to get them out, I may have lost patience with the story, plus I would have had to spend an additional $20 to collect all the alternate covers.


Lactose said...

I'll try it on the strength of this. Nice one fella.

Give 'The Ultimates' a go, man.

It's truely amazing...

James said...

Thank you, sir! I hope you like the series.

Initially I resisted all the Ultimate titles, thinking the concept was kind of crap, however I heard so many good thing about the Ultimates that I started reading it with the second series. Millar can be real hit or miss with me, I either love what he is doing or hate it, and I think Ultimates 2 is the best thing he is putting out right now. I keep meaning to go back and pickup the trades for the first series, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.