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Graphic Novel Review: The New Avengers: Secrets & Lies by Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch, Rick Mays, and Frank Cho

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I have to admit, Frank Cho’s pencils on Spider-Woman in this graphic novel are absolutely eye-popping. No one has ever drawn a sexier looking superheroine. Spider-Woman just glistens with menace. Brian Michael Bendis outdoes himself with subterfuge in this one. Is Spider-Woman a double agent? A triple agent? Or something so complex readers may never know? One thing for sure, she’s being totally victimized.

Bendis obviously has a lot of fun writing this one. And I’ll bet he’s had it planned since the beginning. Spider-Woman is a favorite of his, one of those fractured and broken types he seems especially fond of.

Borrowing a lot from his run on Daredevil, Bendis brings in Matt Murdock and all the problems that hero is currently having in his own comics. Bendis also provides a new hero, Ronin, who also comes from the pages of Daredevil. That’s another mystery that lies within the pages of this graphic novel. There’s little doubt from the onset why this volume is called Secrets & Lies. Not only are the characters lying to each other, but Bendis conceals a lot of information from the reader, although much of it is there on the page if you go back and look through the issues after reading them. I couldn’t figure it out, but when I went back and looked through the pages, the clues are all there. He played that mystery fairly.

The artists provide a lot of action in this story arc. We have ninjas galore, which constitutes a lot of Spider-Man’s one-liners and humorous exchanges with Luke Cage. The attack on the penthouse in Tokyo is awesome. Of course, having all of the comedy going on at the time between the characters would have been impossible. The bit with Luke Cage returning on the elevator after being knocked off the building and falling 20 floors is amazing. Even more humorous, the elevator music from the 1980s reflects Cage’s dark mood and the impending violence he’s about to unleash.

Then we get to the betrayal part with Spider-Woman, and Bendis kicks his readers in the teeth with unexpected surprise after unexpected surprise. The arrival of the Silver Samurai immediately suspends the readers’ curiosity about Spider-Woman, though.

Aboard the Quinjet, Spider-Woman’s duplicity surfaces yet again, and this time she almost manages to kill Captain America. Not surprisingly, Captain America is highly suspicious about the prisoner’s escape.

The segue into a backup feature from an issue of Spider-Woman shoehorns neatly into the overall arc in this graphic novel.

Then Frank Cho steps in to do the penciling the last two parts. He showcases Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel, two of his favorite heroines to draw. Bendis keeps the story coming fast and furious, and when he wraps the arc up, it’s hard to tell exactly how Spider-Woman is going to come out of everything. Yeah, this is just another reason I’m going to keep reading The New Avengers graphic novels.

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