The world can’t exist without the Avengers. At least, the world in Marvel Comics can’t. After Brian Michael Bendis’s destruction of the Avengers in Avengers Disassembled, a lot of Marvel fans were upset. I was one of them. If you haven’t read that book, go read it and see if you’re upset too.
At any rate, any reconstruction of the Avengers was going to have to be a lot different. Marvel Comics chose to take their powerhouses, basically the guys who sold the most comics, and pair them with personal hero favorites of Bendis. That list includes Luke Cage and Spider-Woman. Granted, Bendis has made these characters pull their weight in the strip, but fans wouldn’t have expected them to be in the ranks of the Avengers before.
Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Wolverine are high rollers in the comics game. Putting them in the series makes good sense on some levels. Captain America and Iron Man have both been Avengers before. They have a history. And both of them have worked with Spider-Man and Wolverine on other occasions.
In the original Avengers comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby also gathered their heavy hitters from the 1960s that weren’t on a team and brought them together to chase down the Hulk, who was on a mad rampage inspired by Loki. The heroes had to band together to defeat a menace no one else could deal with.
That’s the setup in Breakout. But Bendis weaves in a lot of plot points that he’s going to touch on in future volumes of this new series. Matt Murdock (Daredevil) is on hand when Electro manages to bust everyone out of an island prison. We get some really good set pieces of some of the characters before they plunge into the fight. In fact, Bendis does a few quick double backs with each issue collected in the graphic novel to turn back time and pick up story threads from before the action breaks out.
And the action is fast and furious. Readers get to see a ton of old foes at their best. One of my favorite scenes was the confrontation between Luke Cage and the Purple Man. Anyone who’s read Alias, another Bendis created comic, knows that Luke has a HUGE bone to pick with the Purple Man.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this graphic novel is the introduction of the Sentry. He’s purportedly the most powerful superhero in existence, yet the world doesn’t remember him. And he’s in prison for murdering his wife. Bendis deals with that plot line in the second arc of the series.
The aftermath of the prison break ends up with Captain America and Iron Man reaching an agreement to bring the Avengers back in some form. Following up on leads established from the investigation regarding the breakout, this new group journeys down to the Savage Land and confronts a conspiracy they hadn’t expected. They also meet up with Wolverine.
I enjoy Bendis’s portrayal of characters and the dialogue that flips back and forth between them. I had a blast watching Luke Cage and Spider-Man mix it up with verbal sparring. The bit about Luke getting his hands spider webbed so he could fight Electro was priceless. David Finch and Danny Miki handle the art chores and do quite well on the pages. When I finished the book, I went back through for the fight scenes and some of the character specific art just for another look.
The New Avengers is off to a good start and I’m enjoying the series. These guys may not be your dad’s Avengers, or the Avengers you grew up with, but it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a dull moment around them.