Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 05.12.2010 – New Avengers Finale #1

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

857
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.2
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 1.5%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Bryan Hitch
INKS: Jackson Guice
COLORED BY: Laura Martin
COVER BY: Bryan Hitch

Size: 48 pages
Price: 4.99

I've been known to say that I'm somewhat immune to nostalgia, and in most cases, it's true.  The weight of legacy is often too heavy on those of us just looking to enjoy some entertainment in our comic book pages.  But I am not made of stone, people.  There are things I look back upon with fondness; things with meaning.  Sometimes those things are more about my experience with comics, rather than the objective comic book itself, which makes some comics into slightly more personal experiences, and your mileage may vary.

I think some of the readers of this site have gotten the impression that I'm sort of hard on Bendis' Avengers books.  I bitched and moaned through Civil War, Secret Invasion, and Dark Reign as much as anyone, and I stand by those criticisms, and think they were always fair.  As you might have guessed, comic books are important to me.  Some are more important to me than others, and in terms of what I'm doing with my life, I think I have a right to hold some comics dear.  New Avengers is a title like that.  It looks silly just typing that, saying that "New Avengers is an important comic to my life," but it's true.  A good number of years back, I was moving away from reading comics with the fervor I do these days. Who can say why, but I had pretty much had it with mainstream books from the big two.  After the Marvel Knights high points, I just saw the books going downhill for a while after.  The people I had come to love in the early 2000's had disappointed me one time too many, and I just stopped reading most of it.  Ron called me one day, and told me to pick up the first New Avengers trade, Breakout, when I went to the store that day.  I said no, and he persisted again, to the point where he sent me $15 through paypal to pay for it for me, as I am very cheap. I brought the book home, and Ron wasn't wrong. I really did enjoy it.  Life didn't change right then, but it was a major step. Sometimes it takes something very minor to rekindle that spark.  That was August of 2005 when that trade was released.  In November of 2005, we recorded our first podcast.  Today, this is what I do for a living, and life has changed a whole hell of a lot.  Was it New Avengers that did it?  Good lord no.  But it's a very nice part of the journey that I always remember.

That brings us, at long last, to New Avengers Finale #1. Like many of you, I certainly looked and wondered why this wasn't just the last numbered issue in the series, but clearly that didn't stop me from reading it.  You might have noticed the absolute glut of Avengers books this week.  Brian Bendis, on a single Wednesday, wrapped up everything he's been doing for the better part of a decade, and still managed to squeeze in an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.  Of the 19 books I read with 'Avengers' in the title, this was the only one that really pleased me, because it encapsulated everything that I liked about that first group of New Avengers stories way back when.  It also cleared the decks of all the stuff I wasn't really enjoying, meaning I think we're finally done with Norman Osborn, at least for a while. The basic gist is that the New Avengers, having been hunted since the Registration Act, are out to nab The Hood.  They're not sure if they're still fugitives or not, and it doesn't matter.  The Hood and his lady friend, Madame Masque are holed up with Count Nefaria, who had a big hand in the original Breakout that brought them together, and he's a world class baddie.  What followed was a very fun superhero fight.

We so rarely see these characters actually cut loose in a fight where it feels like there are actual stakes.  Nefaria is an old villain, and just sort of silly.  But, the story set him up as a real threat and they sold that threat in the pages.  The ensuing battle was oddly satisfying, right up through the coup de grace where everyone's favorite mutant pops out on the page in a way that only Bryan Hitch can do it.

The end of the issue is punctuated in happy endings and the new status quo, with Steve Rogers position made clear and the New Avengers once again legal and in the clear.  It really feels like an ending, or at least a finale.  I was satisfied by it, and that doesn't happen with comic book endings too often.

Most of the issue was drawn by Bryan Hitch, with some assists I couldn't pick out from Stuart Immonen, and it was what you'd expect.  My affinity for Hitch has changed over the years, and I think the work tends to suffer when Paul Neary isn't inking him.  But I found myself really enjoying it as I went through the pages, culminating in that major action shot that turns the Nefaria battle when snikt happens, followed by Carol Danvers' final blow.  It was the perfect scene for Hitch to draw, and I really appreciated it. 

The thing that put me over the edge was the art round up at the end, as we were treated to nine two-page splashes in a row, by the various artists on the series since its beginning, illustrating the major points of the 65 issue run, where I learned names like Jimmy Cheung and Steve McNiven, among others.  I thought it was a very fitting cap on the end of what was a very influential run. 

If you think about it, this was the series where Bendis shaped the fate of the Marvel Universe, which is the big dog in the comics industry.  It could be argued that the success of the publisher depended very heavily on the success of these books, and even though I didn't like all of it, I'd still rather have read it than not. The very fact that I didn't like parts of it, but kept reading was testament to the fact that, overall, this will be hailed as a legendary run in mainstream superhero comics.  Talking about them, even when we were nitpicking them, was fun!  We cared what was happening in this book all the way through. No small thing in my world.

The comics will go on, and Bendis will write more of these comics, and others, but a chapter has been closed, and I'm glad for having read it, and for the fitting end it received.  When people ask what was happening in Marvel in the past decade, this is the story they'll be referring to, in the same way that they refer to the Claremont/Byrne X-Men, or Jack and Stan on Fantastic Four.  I'll remember it as the story that helped bring me back to Marvel comics.

Josh Flanagan
Thanks for all the fun, Brian!
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Well huh.

    Should have bought this.  Rolling up my copy of Sentry Fallen Sun and flogging myself with it as I type.  Was going to wipe my ass with it afterwards but my ass deserves better.

  2. Good review, sir.  Good review.  Nicely put.

  3. I was SO dissappointed when New Avengers lurched off track with Civil War just when it seemed to be coming together and I haven’t been able to (willing to?) come back. This might change that though I doubt I’ll have any idea whats going on…

  4. Great review, Josh. This is by far the best one you’ve written in a long time, good job.

  5. Totally agree.  This was the title that got me back into reading comics after 10 years.  I still remember seeing the first trade at Borders and thinking "huh, spidey AND wolverine in the Avengers?  What the hell is going on?".  Now I am going to my LCS every wed like I used to years ago.  I can actually trace my re-interest in comics to the New Avengers, and while some of it was a bit dragging, this run Bendis did will go down as one of the all time greats.

  6. I’m going through the second HC and am captivated, though wondering if this run will eventually be omnibused as I read through the eventual 7, 8 or 9th HC…  great, dense stories by a great writer who is leading Marvel to new heights…

  7. If not for Alias, I wouldn’t be reading comics right now at all. Back when All Of This started happening for Brian Bendis, I was happy about his "mainstream" success, but I remember being deeply suspicious of the direction the Avengers were heading in. I didn’t see Spider-Man as a team player; I didn’t see Wolverine as an Avenger; I didn’t see Bendis as an Avengers writer. Everything I thought I knew about him and everything I thought I knew about the Avengers just didn’t mesh.

    Years later, this has probably been the only book I consistently look forward to every single time. I will always remember where I was when I read the Elektra-Skrull issue (in my car in the parking lot). This issue was a fitting, satisfying, and emotional sendoff that made the entire series feel like a single, cohesive story that was finally neatly wrapped up. When I closed it, I almost felt like I have to stop reading comics now.

  8. Was thinking of skipping this because New Avengers has been so poor for quite a while but maybe i’ll give it a shot, just to see if it piques my interest for the next set of avengers books.

     

  9. I had this in my hand for a few minutes but decided not to buy it.  I had only read parts of the New Avengers run, and with like 4000 other books in my hand I couldn’t justify it.  Also, I flipped through the book, and was wholly unimpressed with Hitch’s art.  It looked too muddied and thickly lined with some details missing.  I’m glad its a nice capper for fans of the series though. 

  10. Having only been back into comics for about 3 yrs. now, I obviously wasn’t at the store to pick up the first issue of New Avengers.  But what I can tell you is when I read the first trade, I immediately went back and bought several consecutive trades/issues leading up to Secret Invasion.  This book has been crack to me and I’ve enjoyed just about everything, with the exception of most of the Dark Reign books, without question.  Fantastic review!!!

  11. Just picked up my books and, while I haven’t read any yet, just looking at the stack I can say I don’t envy you having to make the pick.  That’s a hell of a pile of comics this week.

  12. I’m glad you enjoyed this, but I didn’t at all. Perhaps that makes sense since I haven’t enjoyed New Avengers in a long time. I loved the original Avengers Finale celebrating decades of stories, but this one didn’t really ring true to me. I also could have done without the nine double-splash pages in a row.

    To each his own, I’m glad there were others who liked it. 

  13. Despite paying $5 for this book and me being up and down on this series the last couple of years, it was at least a good wrap-up to what the New Avengers had been going through since Civil War.  The last few splash pages were incredible to look at.

  14. I wasn’t able to get quite as choked up about this because I’m too aware that the book is relaunching next month with, as far as I can tell, the same cast.  But it is the end of an era, and an overall good era, and I particularly adored that final page.  I can totally understand how Josh feels about this issue, and the review (including Josh’s personal journey) helps me appreciate it more.  Also, it takes me back to the beginning of the iFanboy podcast and how much enjoyment I’ve gotten out of that over the years.  Very fitting pick, and I’m glad Bendis was able to stick the landing.

  15. I’m tired of James Howlett jumping at me with his claws out on every cover.

  16. New Avengers began its run just as I was returning to comics as well.  I am with you on almost every point – I’m not sure how I’ll manage without this title.

    This issue felt like the guy that just hit the home run coming back out of the dugout to acknowledge the crowd.  Just a great, great ending.

  17. But New Avengers isn’t really ending though, so…uhh…

  18. @Neb…DITTO!!! I was contemplating getting this but when I flipped inside to preview the pages I was like huh? WTF happened to Wolverine’s costume? The battle scenes also just didn’t do it for me.Lastly $4.99??

    Nice review Josh!

  19. This was a great "final" issue. I balanced the adventure with the retrospective really nicely. Luke Cage doing most of the narration was absolutley perfect.

    I have two criticisms of this book, both pretty minor. 

    First, I feltlike maybe this story should have been a final arc instead of a final issue.  I really want more info and a better worked tie in for Nefaria and the prison breakout that started the series.  Jus mentioning it isnt enough for me.

    Second, it was PLAINLY obvious in the ladt issue of New Avengers that Ronin and Mockingbird SAW The Hood and Madame Mask crawling out of the rubble.  Remeber: "Whitney? Bobbi?"   It just seems like this little continuity flubs have plagued Bendis in the last few months.  It really doesnt change anything. its just distracting.  

    However, for me, this was still the best issue of New Avengers in months.  I say 4 out of 5.

  20. well I may as well chime in here with my love for this title and what it has meant to me.  I knew I liked the X-Men and I knew I liked Punisher, but it wasn’t until I picked up the first issue of this book, and yes I was on with issues from the beginning, that I discovered how much I would come to love the Avengers and the core of the Marvel Universe.  

    this issue was a cover-to-cover fun-filled adventure and I loved seeing the saga of the underground Avengers team vs. the Hood come to a close so well.

    BTW @Josh: I believe the only thing Immonen drew was the final double splash with the team walking in the park freely.  the rest of the pages look all Hitch. 

  21. But Immonen got credited after Hitch’s name, and none of those other 2-page artists did, which makes me think he assisted finishing pages.  Maybe just backgrounds or whatever, but that’s what I think.  Also, Immonen is the man of 1000 styles.  He doesn’t draw just one way, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he could ape Hitch.

  22. The last page was Immonen.  The pages leading up to that are all reprints from other issues and they are credited at the bottom of the recap page.

  23. I’m not sure we should assume "with" means anything significant.  if an artist just drew the last two pages of an issue, he’d definitely get a "with" credit if it was sequential pages.  does he still get it if it’s just a splash?  what if it’s a really good splash? maybe he did more than that, but sadly there are no rules for comic credits, so we’re left guessing.

    someone with a Jinxworld account should get in on that Bendis tapes Q & A and ask for us.  otherwise, how else can we know for sure? 

  24. Remember when Hitch and Millar were doing FF, and then it didn’t go so well and they both bailed? I knew Hitch didn’t draw the last issue, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell who did because it was so damned Hitchy. Then I turned to the last page, and BAM: Stuart Immonen. In addition to his day-to-day, immaculate signature style, the man also does a mean Hitch impression.

  25. That’s where I’m putting my money.

    Look at Immonen from Shock Rockets to Next Wave to USM to Avengers, and everything in between to his book from Top Shelf. That guy has range like nobody’s business.

    Seriously, this is Stuart Immonen.

  26. Immonen can go an amazing imitation of Mike Mignola.

    Seriously, that moment in Nextwave had me at a loop. It’s so dead on I thought Mignola did the issue w/o credit. It’s THAT good. 

  27. I loved this isse and the last issue of Dark Avengers equally. The thing that put me over the top was that this issue was more indispensible to the overall story than DA was. This was a must-read, even though I would’ve been just as satisfied with the Hood being taken out on the battlefield, as opposed to what we got.

    Great issue, overall, and probably the best justification for a re-numbering Marvel’s ever given.

  28. The review, just like the issue itself, was satisfying. Beautiful stuff Josh.

  29. I thought this was pretty bad.  The first 1/2 was OK, but then it devolved into nonsense.  I don’t think I’ll be picking up any of the Avengers books that will follow.

  30. The thing I love about this comic, aside from Wolverine cameo and the nice resolution to the Hood v. Avengers storyline is the solidifying of Luke Cage into a A-List hero. In one of the post House of M issues, Carol Danvers talks about levels of heros in the Marvel U. Guys like Thor, Iron Man, and Cap rise above the rest, i think now you can put Luke Cage at least near those heros. He provided a great moral high round when the team looked like they were goign to lose their direction in the wake of Civil War. The speech he gives just before they go after the Hood really elevates him in my mind as a great Marvel hero.

  31. Cage should have been the new Cap.  That would have been a cool twist – family man fighting for the American way of life.

  32. This is the title that brought me into comics and it has consistently been one of the books I look forward to the most every month. Sad to see it end, but we all know Bendis will continue to kick ass on Avengers and whatever else he decides to do.

  33. Great issue, but Hitch is losing it.  Whatever skill he had that made the Ultimates so awesome is slipping away faster and faster.

  34. Umm, what about Maya? What happen to here? Huh?

  35. Great issue. Loved the run. I can really understand the nostalgia feeling. Bendis brought me back to mainstream comics as well with Alias. Marvel’s MVP for a decade now.

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