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    Review: Avengers #12.1

    By | April 28th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Brian Michael Bendis
    Illustrated by Bryan Hitch

    START READING with this Point One Issue! Prepare for the upcoming high-stakes Avengers event with a battle between the Avengers and the Intelligencia, the return of SWORD, and the dissapearance of Spider-Woman!. Bendis and modern master Bryan Hitch Join forces for this very special, all-new Avengers story that is not only an explosive action-packed self-contained thriller but a prologue to an Avengers saga that will rock the entire Marvel Universe next year. Guest starring the New and Secret Avengers!

    Hold on a second. Bryan Hitch? Back on interiors for the first time in a year? You never fully notice how much you miss an artist’s wonderful interiors until you don’t see them for quite some time, so with that little detail selling me on a comic that I admit I would have bought anyway, how did the Avengers .1 fit into Marvel’s Point One initiative?

    Find out after the cut.

    I’m a huge supporter of Marvel’s Point One initiative. In all honesty, I think it’s a wonderful way to bring new fans to books that they might not normally read, and in today’s comic market – as much as I like to pretend “the economy” isn’t a thing – it’s always nice to see a company take such an active role in attempting to get readers into their books. the question is really just in the execution of the title; as in, does the creative time really create a story that’s brand new and 100% accessible to the layman fan while also still being worthwhile to the active reader? So far I’ve only seen one book truly pull this off – but now we’re dealing with a Marvel Architect, and a premiere one at that. Can Brian Bendis, who is always trying to attract new readers, pull off the Point One?

    The answer is: yes, but also a little bit no. But mostly yes.

    Let’s start with all the positives first: the story opens with Jessica Jones finally reprising her role as a SWORD agent and finding the dead boy of a Spaceknight. She is quickly kidnapped by the reformed Intelligencia, which in turn leads the Avengers – adjectiveless, New, and Secret – to band together to find her and rescue her. This is, without a doubt, a one-shot accessible story that readers from other titles (if not explicitly new to comics) can join in and follow along with. While on the one hand it does kind of assume you have some specific Marvel knowledge here, the book is written to the point that it is still accessible to the new reader. That’s arguably the most important point, and the biggest plus in the book’s “yes” column.

    See, the title lays it all out. Steve Rogers has never heard of SWORD, so the reader is explained what SWORD is. Jessica Jones has never heard of the Intelligencia, so the reader is explained what the Intelligencia is. The Protector generally doesn’t know what’s going on, so he’s used as a device to acclimate the reader to various possibly/maybe unclear elements. The one-and-done nature of the story also ends on just enough of a cliffhanger to officially end the story while also entice any new reader into continuing along, and just maybe – maybe – go back and read what they missed to understand the references. The Avengers is a relatively new book in it’s current incarnation, after all. If the goal is to seek new readers, this title is sure to do that.

    On top of that, the title works as a book for people who have been reading the title already. The story itself is steeped in current goings-on of the extended Marvel Universe, featuring a wide cast and continuing Bendis’ trend of paying off his own stories one way or another. Spider-Woman ended a bit too soon (at least, for my liking), so Jessica’s role as a SWORD agent never got fleshed out beyond one story. Bendis continues to also be the only writer to acknowledge SWORD who isn’t an X-writer, and considering SWORD had a big-ish role in Secret Invasion, so despite Spider-Woman not getting the extended stay we assumed it would have it’s nice to see that Bendis hasn’t forgot. On top of that, the big reveal at the end is directly tied in to the first arc of Avengers that we had, and while Avengers doesn’t feature a two-page spread of what’s to come, the final three pages and last line of the book are enough of a tease to hopefully excite anyone as to what’s coming. Bendis wants the Avengers to be “big”, and big it shall be.

    Continued below

    Of course, there is one major negative to the title that does weigh on it’s success, at least from a more critical standpoint. Bendis is a writer who has had issues of acknowledging timeline outside of his own book before, and while the time line of comic books are generally in flux as is, for anyone who has been reading any of the Avengers books it does feel a tad grating. The first incredibly noticeable detail is that the Secret Avengers are a main part of the book. The Secret Avengers, who no one knows about (that is, until you read Secret Avengers #12.1, which could theoretically take place before this – I don’t know, I haven’t read it yet). The other is just the mere existence of the Intelligencia, who disbanded at the end of World War Hulks, a few of whom were captured and imprisoned by the Hulk, and one of whom – the Wizard – is written incredibly out of character based on Hickman’s prevalent portrayal in Fantastic Four/FF (and, for the record, it doesn’t really make sense why the Wizard would join this group). While it’s nice to see Spider-MODOK here, it is also odd to see Spider-MODOK here because he hasn’t even really appeared in Hulk yet. Bendis picks his toys as he usually does, but the inconsistency between this and other titles is a bit grating (although the Mighty Avengers/Annihilation: Conquest shout out is nice).

    Of course, while Bendis is his usual self in this issue, it’s really Bryan Hitch that brings the absolute A-Game. Hitch is one of those artists, whose interiors are practically flawless and always vastly entertaining. Hitch is the visual pioneer of wide screen storytelling, and paired with a creator like Bendis who loves to cram as much as possible into any given pages, the pages are quite wonderful in the end. Hitch is brilliant in the visual medium, with his splash pages presenting powerful imagery that is equally matched by his brilliant attention to detail. There are very few as talented as Hitch in the comic book industry, and while Bendis isn’t as bombastic an action writer as his pal Mark Millar, he still manages to fully utilize Hitches uncanny abilities to a similarly powerful degree. It’s safe to say that in one issue, Hitch has absolutely blown regular artist John Romita Jr out of the water artistically in a visual battle that is in no way a fair fight.

    Avengers #12.1 is definitely a success of an issue. The previous Infinity Gauntlet based arc of the title left something to be desired throughout most of it’s story, but Bendis is nothing if not a creator who always has a plan of some kind. That plan – whose beginning we’ve already seen – is in play in full force with this issue that acts as a nice intermediate one-shot issue to a larger storyline, and it certainly is a title worthy of the Point One issue. While I do wish that the title would seek more to re==pay attention to active continuity, there is something to be said for the shifting timelines of comic books that does somewhat makes this an excusable offense.

    Here’s hoping the second Point One issue and upcoming line-up change rewards the new readers this title seeks to gain.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."