Avengers #12.1 (Marvel Comics)
by Brian Michael Bendis & Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary
I really don’t get what Marvel is trying to accomplish with these point-one issues. The originally stated goal was to provide readers with accessible jumping-on points for existing series — not a bad idea. But that’s not what Marvel’s been doing with most of these point-one issues, and that holds true with this comic book. While the comic is written by the regular writer, the art is by a creative team that won’t be returning to this book, giving new readers a false impression of what to expect from the title. Furthermore, Bendis brings all of the various Avengers teams into play here, not just the lineup that’s usually featured in this series, and he doesn’t do that good a job of differentiating among the different Avengers teams. Still, despite those problems, this isn’t a bad super-hero comic. It’s bombastic and colorful and features a diverse and fun array of characters, not just the heroes but the villains as well. Mind you, Bendis’ script really should have provided more background on who these villains are. I recognize them, but if the point is to be accessible for new readers, they really deserve a little bit of an introduction.
One of the things I enjoyed about this story was how it ends up connecting to plot elements from the first story arc in the series, bringing the first year of the title full circle. But perhaps the most distracting element in the book was the fact that a captive Spider-Woman is depicted as being naked… again. The story really doesn’t demand the skin, and the villains’ apparent decision to deprive her of clothing makes them seem more like creepy pervs than significant threats to the world’s most powerful super-hero team. And while it was a pleasure to see Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary paired again in these pages, I question whether they were the right choice for this particular comic. I’m not taking issue with the work they offer up here; it’s detailed and really brings these characters to life. But given the nature of the cheesy, colorful, Silver Age villains, I wonder if a more stylized, exaggerated visual approach wouldn’t have served the fun qualities of those characters better. 6/10