ADVANCE REVIEW: New Avengers Annual #1

New Avengers Annual #1

New Avengers Annual #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Gabriele Dell’Otto
Color by Ive Svorcina
Letters by Joe Caramagna

$4.99 / Color/ 48 pages

Marvel Comics

Simon Williams is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more. This is more problematic than it could be, as Simon Williams isn’t a news anchor or postal worker, but former Avenger Wonder Man. We’ve already seen Simon clash with the current roster in the pages of original recipe Avengers, but now he’s taking his diatribe down the block to the New Avengers mansion. But first, a history lesson.

In a series of double page splashes, Bendis and Dell’Otto channel the fury and calculation of impassioned letter column and online forum rants. Intentional or not, Simon Williams is the new voice of the motormouthed troll, and hater is gonna hate all day long. Crouched and crackling with energy, Wonder Man introduces himself to the reader, then launches into his five-point argument against the Avengers. The team and its founders, Simon stresses, are responsible for far more harm than good, going all the way back to decisions made in their inception. These mistakes range from the creation of Ultron to the events of Civil War. And though he proffers some salient points, Wonder Man truly comes across like the Guy With a List who always seems to turn up in an online discussion, posting a lengthy and virulent tirade every time his target issue is referenced even briefly. Dude’s got bullet points and sub-headings copied and pasted from an archived GeoCities lair. It is unclear how much of this rant is meant to be satirical, but taken at face value with Dell’Otto’s gritted teeth, bulging trapezius muscles and melodramatic posturing, you’re either going to read it as Henry Rollins spoken word or as a sputtering “YouTube response.”

From New Avengers Annual #1 by Bendis & Dell'Otto

Perhaps inevitably, Wonder Man assembles his own team of disenfranchised heroes to confront and topple the Avengers regime. Dig out your Essential OHotMU collections, because it’s time for the likes of Anti-Venom, Century, Devil-Slayer and of course, D-Man. This motley crew are about to skulk out of the wings and into a strange kind of limelight.

Expanding on this theme of D-list face time, the issue also focuses on Squirrel Girl and her first time out of the mansion with baby Danielle without Luke and Jessica. The parents are understandably jittery about their baby’s brief outing, though that trepidation will likely turn to relief once they realize how much devastation is headed for home. Wherever Squirrel Girl is pushing that stroller, it’s safer than New Avengers HQ. The bulk of the issue is dedicated to a pretty gnarly home invasion, and gnarly works on two levels.

Dell’Otto’s pencils go largely without ink with stray pencil marks, and that makes for a rougher than rough bloodbath. With an overpopulated battle royale and art not at all ready for prime time, it’s a murky state of affairs. The cluttered pages and disjointed storytelling almost seem appropriate for the level of chaos being depicted, but events of this magnitude, betrayals this grave, cry out for more coherent imagery. Without focus, a few one-liners from Spider-Man and Wolverine fall flat and some of Bendis’ action cues aren’t rendered with the polish they deserve.

This jaded Wonder Man angle is an inspired one, but whatever verve the story may have had is diluted by rough, inarticulate visuals and a script that lacks the crispness of Bendis’ best. It’s also unclear as to how Simon’s ire escalated to this point, though time will tell if the wanton destruction playing out in this storyline is inspired by a third party’s possession of the fallen hero or Bendis truly believes Wonder Man could take things this far. Played for satire, the opening sequence might’ve made for genuinely subversive comedy, an introspective jab at Avengers history and the absurdity of fan criticism. As it is, it feels like misplaced anger and posturing without the necessary irony.

Story: 3 / Art: 1.5 / Overall: 2

(Out of 5)


  1. I haven’t read much of anything Avengers for a while now. I was looking forward to seeing at least some some of return of Wonder Man. Now, not so much.

    • I don’t imagine a traditional Wonder Man would be too pleased with his depiction here. This is WM in name only.

    • Oh a WMINO.

    • In Avengers #1, we learned that Simon was none too happy with the Avengers. I feel like bringing it up again at this point is a little weird. Speaking of which, I would think that this would make more sense in the pages of regular recipe Avengers, not New Avengers.

      Not trying to rip Bendis, but he continually makes writing choices that make me scratch my head. For example, I don’t get the whole interview motif. I understand what he’s doing, but I am not nearly as enamored with the idea as he is. Show, don’t tell is a writing maxim.

      And, does everyone on the Avengers feel inadequate? I am kind of tired of that theme. These are supposed to be the world’s best heroes. A little ego would be appropriate, but not one of them feels like they measure up. And, that wouldn’t be a terrible theme if Bendis did something with it. He never seems to get to the resolution of the internal conflict, instead he seems to continually retread the same emotional ground, over and over again. Personally, I am tired of it.

      Again, I am not trying to rip Bendis. I just wonder if other people feel the same way I do.

    • @ctrosejr I’m really puzzled by his infatuation with the interview thing… I mean, I guess it can generate some good character insights, but it makes for an incredibly boring visual. I can’t stand it, personally.

    • No ctrosejr, you’re right on the money. Bendis had driven this kind of story in to the ground at the end of his previous New Avengers run, and his over-reliance on the shock value of having the Avengers splinter and turn on each other doesn’t seem to have waned one bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually a fan of Bendis (his USM is a particular favorite of mine), but I personally feel that he is simply not a team-book guy. In place of developing the characters on the team and their relationships naturally by just letting go and allowing them to play off one another as the plot develops, he forces them to butt heads with one-another whenever possible and makes THAT the central plot, even if the conflict or dispute that he shoe horns in as a story arc is completely out of character for those involved.

  2. I’m a Wonder Man fan, ( even read his solo series back in the day ), and i HATE this direction Bendis is taking Simon in. To ME, it makes NO sense. None. But thats what Bendis does. He wants to turn the Avengers into a street level team. He’s even adding Daredevil, now! DAREDEVIL!?!?!?! Gone are the days of classic Avengers acting like themselves. Maybe this Simon is a skrull. Sigh.

  3. Also it must suck to have been cuckolded by a robot version of yourself without you even knowing it.

  4. And still we ignore the issue of the closet…

  5. maybe I shouldn’t be judging the New Avengers book anyway, as I have a particular grudge with this book. To me, the Avengers should never have been made in to a street-level team, this should be the book where the creative team get to throw every concept within the Marvel U at the wall and see what sticks. This should be the “every-flavored-gobstopper” of Marvel’s publishing line, and the only time in recent memory that the franchise came close to reaching this potential was during Dan Slott’s run on “Mighty”.

  6. Ouch on the art. Without seeing more pages its difficult to comment on, but i wonder if the congested feeling of the pencil instead of inks thing has to do with coloring? I see a lot of standard comics color rendering on that one page you posted, so i wonder if thats the issue? I hate the idea that a comic panel MUST BE inked in order for it to work. So limiting from an art direction point of view. I really do like the look and feel of un-inked comic panels if they handle it properly. Fionna Staples on Mystery Society comes to mind. Simple coloring really helped that.

  7. I like Bendis as a writer a lot.
    I think there is still a lot of talent left in the tank.
    But I have grown to hate his Avengers- outside of Siege
    I can’t even get through an issue anymore- this seems like more of the same.
    It’s not hating to say- that maybe this group of characters is just something he doesn’t do well.

  8. I don’t know the sales figures but I can’t imagine Bendis being the sole Avengers writer for much longer. Anytime he comes up in articles people show up in droves to cry for change… and six months from a year to goes by… and Bendis is still there. How long can they keep this up? Somethings gotta give eventually.

    I guess it’s a case of the internet’s vocal minority not being an indication of how many happy BendVengers fans there actually are out there.

    • Broovort also once asked the CBR forums if they could make one change to Marvel what it’d be and they overwhelmingly said they wanted Bendis off the Avengers books. A week later the columnist asked Broovort if he’d noticed any trends in the thread, and he said he saw none. I don’t know if his head is in the sand or if the sales numbers are just that good.

    • Decisions aren’t made based on internet complaining. For every person who complains about hating something, there’s another person who likes that same thing.

    • also keep in mind what may seem like a “vocal majority” aka fans on a message board is at best, maybe 50 people in any given place. Hardly an accurate barometer. If you only followed internet comments, every restaurant in the world should be out of business because of yelp feedback.

    • I guess it’s a case of the internet’s vocal minority not being an indication of how many happy BendVengers fans there actually are out there.

  9. WOW! interesting review. It was the art that actually caused me to put this on my pullist. After seeing some early previews of it I was impressed. Either the rest of the book didn’t capture what made those pages good or we just have different tastes.

    May have to thumb through it before laying down the cash.

  10. No decisions are based on sales.
    And sales are good for The Avengers.
    But a smart editor sees the writing on the wall.
    Coffee talk Avengers is well past the point of empty.
    Bendis needs to write some action some crazy threat only the avengers can handle
    The kind of stuff they were founded to do.
    I like a good character moment- I like some of the soap opera of course.
    But I personally don’t truly care who’s dating who- more than I want to see some Avengering.
    And the talking head interview stuff – Dayenu already!
    Here’s my personal formula.
    50% Action
    30% SciFi craziness
    20% Relationship mishigas

  11. I think Bendis has done some good work on the Avengers, but I would like to see a fresh face take over the writing. Like when Dan Slott did on Mighty.

  12. by the cover and the inside art, i can see why this only got a 2. oh well

  13. I’m going to stand up and defend Bendis’ Avengers. I have my issues with his writing style, characters sometimes lose voice and the plotting is pretty slender which really shows in his events (which are pretty bad except for Siege even though the plotting was poor there – Sentry dies by being hit with Thor’s hammer) but that being said every time i get one of his Avenegrs trades i find myself really enjoying it.

    The dialogue is largely crisp and there is a breezy easy-to-read quality to it all. Someone was saying that comics should show and not tell in reference to his tendency to use too much dialogue. I actually think there is less talk than in a lot of titles and the talk that is there is easier to read.

    I tried to like Slott’s Mighty run but found it largely unreadable (like most of his work unfortunately).

    I certainly see the problems with decompression (first year of new Avengers, they fight Agamotto and Superia) and wish it could have a tighter feel like Parker’s Thunderbolts of 2 or 3 issue arcs or Avengers Academy but in the end i enjoy the reading experience. I guess I don;t mind there being a mix of styles in my pull list.

    As for complaints that New Avengers ‘shouldn’t be street level’. Well that is why you have Avengers.

  14. This article sums up why I am finally dropping Avengers. I haven’t enjoyed it for a long time and I don’t have the budget to keep buying the book if I’m not liking it. I keep hoping Avengers will once again be a book about the Marvel Universes greatest heroes, fighting the threats no one hero could tackle alone. It hasn’t been that book for a long time and as long as Bendis is writing it, it never will be. I am tired of heroes whining, heroes complaining, and heroes being interviewed. That is not what the Avengers is. At least, not the Avengers I grew up reading.

    In the last few years, I have become seriously disappointed in the direction of the Marvel Universe. I want my super heroes to ACT like super heroes. I want them to show their courage and their honor and their sense of what’s right. I want them to be, as Dr. Strange described Spider-Man, “The best of us.” Super heroes are supposed to inspire us to greatness and show how good truly can triumph over evil. Sure, there should be a couple of dark, disturbed heroes filled with self-doubt who are emotionally troubled. Variety is great. But I don’t want the entire Marvel U to be a bunch of whiny emo losers. I can’t take it anymore.

    I have been reading comics for 30 years. In that time, I have ALWAYS bought far more Marvel than DC. I just filled out my Diamond Previews order form for November, and for the first time in 30 years of buying comics, I am getting more DC than marvel. I have 8 Marvel books (7 if you only count the double shipping Amazing Spider-Man as one book, and 6 if you count Fantastic Four and FF as one book), and I have 13 DC books.

    I don’t want my heroes shattered. I don’t want them fearful. I don’t want them dark for the sake of being dark. I want my heroes to be super, dammit!

    When I read Justice League #1, it was like my wishes were granted. That was what I wanted out of a super hero team book. I have never been this excited for DC comics in my life and I have never been LESS excited for Marvel in my life. And as somebody who faithfully held Marvel as their favorite publisher for three decades, that kind of breaks my heart a little.

    • What challenges are they supposed to overcome if it all comes so easy? See yes I want them to do all those things in the end but if they don’t have the same fears and temptations as the res tof us then what’s the point?

  15. Man, I just want to read the Squirrel Girl babysitting story without all the crazy Wonder Man! :-/

  16. Anyone know if i can get a refund? No really. I have never read a book that made me physically MAD, as this book did. I wanted to rip it in half!!!