It’s a quieter week for Marvel comics, so we’re trying something new to get you all caught up with what happened last week: bite-sized reviews! Perfect to read while grabbing a quick snack before going on with the rest of your day.
Only two weeks after we were introduced to the New Avengers with the first issue, issue #2 dropped, complete with more background on the team, the new AIM, their villains, and what will likely be the continuing plot. Since this is a bite-sized review, we won’t focus too much on the minute details, but dive right into the book as a whole.
As I’ve said before, there’s a lot of factors that work against this book, not the least of which being the still unresolved events of Secret Wars. With the plot details of The New Avengers being tied so heavily into the conclusion of that event (what with the presence of the Maker and all), it makes it difficult to get this plot off the ground when so many key details can’t yet be revealed or haven’t even been written yet. If it wasn’t enough to be dealing with as-yet-unwritten core plot points and an inability to go into crucial expository backstories, the book has to introduce less familiar characters and a new team, a new organization behind that team, new conflicts, new villainous plots… practically new everything-you-could-think-of.
Packing all of the above into a book and keeping the audience engaged is hard enough, but to do so without being able answer key questions about a cast of characters (like “how” or “why”) is another level entirely. It’s a rather daunting task and a formidable obstacle for the success of a new comic, but it’s a problem Ewing seems to be tackling head-on. Issue #2 gives us a good introduction to the team and the new AIM itself without being fully overloaded, and we even get glimpses into how the team is learning to fight cooperatively.
For all of these reasons, issues #1 and #2 of The New Avengers are definitely exposition heavy, with quite a few instances being devoted to explaining who people are and what they’re up to. There is quite a bit of dialogue, which is understandable if a little much at times. A lot of information needs to be conveyed to the reader fairly rapidly for the story that’s being told, and since this isn’t a book where the art can successfully carry the story, the text has to do it instead.
Thankfully, the exposition given is never heavy-handed enough that you feel as if you’re being lectured to by an exposition robot, but it can get a little overwhelming when you’re confronted with a page full of text about the Maker and his current plans. (It’s not made any better by the fact that he’s in the middle of brain surgery without anesthesia and covered in blood when we get this info dump. The last time we saw the Marker vivisect someone to get at their brain was Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #27, which was a thoroughly traumatic experience for everyone involved.)
Personally, the story for issue #2 wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the first, possibly due to the fact that so much was set up in terms of ongoing conflicts and plots that it didn’t feel as if there was enough payoff for the sheer amount of setup that was given. Setting aside the art (which, if you were curious, is still as visually horrifying to me as it was last time in terms of proportions that do not make sense), this book’s greatest strength is its writing, and Ewing does an excellent job of balancing the voices of his large cast of characters. There’s also some solid scientific work in the issue, which I highly appreciate.
As a niche reader who was interested in The New Avengers from the start because of its characters and its writing, I probably would have been happy with a slower start to the book, in order to introduce readers to the new AIM and the new team one step at a time. Sunspot’s new AIM has turned out to be an interesting organization and one that I do want to know more about, and I wouldn’t have minded getting to know the new AIM at a more sedate pace to allow for more character work before throwing team missions into the mix, which would let readers to get used to the team working together just as the team itself does the same.
Granted, this is not a formula that works for everyone, and it’s likely not something that grabs new readers and compels them to keep reading. Again, I’m definitely a niche reader, but The New Avengers does feel like a bit of a niche book, and it might not hurt to allow the book some breathing room to fully carve out that niche for itself and its audience.
New Avengers #2 was written by Al Ewing, with art by Gerardo Sandoval, colors by Dono Sánchez Almara, and lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna.
Images courtesy of Marvel
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Eve is asexual panromantic, a graduate student with no time for sleep (but always time for comics), a senior contributing writer for the Rainbow Hub, and an avid consumer of any type of media she can get her hands on. When not perusing her incredibly large collection of Marvel comics, she can be found reading, knitting in front of the TV, or on her laptop.