Comics ASSEMBLE!: The New Avengers vol 1

I’ve been reading Avengers basically since the introduction of the New Avengers a few years ago, right before Civil War. I had no real interest in them prior to that, most of the characters just didn’t really fire me up. Slowly in the intervening years, I’ve been introduced to more of them, and I’m starting to warm up to many of the long-time members of the group.

Starting here with the “new” New Avengers (post-Siege) a few of those long time Avengers return to the team; Mockingbird, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Ms. Marvel. This is just after Siege, so we’re now entering the new Heroic Age of Marvel, but there’s still some left over resentment that hasn’t quite been resolved from Civil War. So Luke Cage is leading this New Avengers team, bringing along some of the folks he’s been working alongside for some time now including Spider-man and Wolverine, Hawkeye and Thing.

And no sooner do they get settled into the Avengers mansion than they get attacked, by a mystical power looking to get it’s hands on the Eye of Agamotto – the artifact which gives the powers of Sorcerer Supreme to whomever wields it. So to help them figure out just what is going on, enter Dr. Strange, Hellstorm, and Doctor Voodoo. But when the mystical creature possesses Iron Fist, it get’s much more than it bargained for – as he is protected by mystical forces, and now he has control of the Eye.

As Demons begin invading Earth, the Avengers come up with the only plan they can think of – send a single hero into the otherworld of the spiritual plane to retrieve the Eye. But just to stack the odds in their favor, that hero will have the powers of all the New Avengers combined – though how much good it will do when their ultimate foe is revealed remains in question.

I’m not big into the mystical side of the Marvel universe, so it’s probably a good thing that Brian Bendis (writer of this series) also isn’t a big fan of those stories either – I think it helps keep this grounded in something I can understand and follow. There’s a little bit of the old Inferno crossover here, what with demons invading Manhattan – that was always a series I enjoyed – and with a number of the characters (chief among them, Spider-man) providing the “what the heck is going on, this is way over my head” point of view, it all stays together nicely for those of us who normally like more straightforward superhero fare.

This isn’t a team I feel like I need to follow the exploits of, in fact with a little culling on both teams, I think the best characters in use here and on the main Avengers book could have been combined into a single title. But, for all that, I still enjoyed reading this tale, even if it did nothing really to make me want to pick up the next volume in the series. Just judging from this volume, this almost seems to be a book looking for a direction – or perhaps it’s the more laid-back Avengers book, while the main title is the Main Event, providing the equivalent of movie blockbuster stories. Either way, the writing is typical Bendis – for me this means moments of humor mixed with the right amount of action, for an overall enjoyable experience. The art is very nice, no question that the Avengers books are at the top of the charts with the art talents they get drawing them. It’s not the best New Avengers book I’ve read, but I can’t fault it completely – it is a good entry point into the Heroic Age, so it succeeds at least in that respect. The question is, will it be a compelling enough read to keep any newcomers who might be introduced through this opening chapter?

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