Review by: froggulper

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Avg Rating: 4.0
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey & Wayne Faucher
Colors by Chris Bachalo
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Javier Rodriguez & Paul Renaud

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

The last time Bendis and Bachalo teamed up for a comic that said “Avengers” on the cover, I believe it was the Dark Avengers: The List special. I gave that $4.99 comic a shot because I liked the character formerly known as Marvel Boy and, moreover, because I love Bachalo’s art. I gave it a shot even though I haven’t been a fan of Bendis’s Avengers, and I was rewarded. It was a great comic and Bendis’s dialogue didn’t annoy me. In fact, in that case I liked Bendis’s dialogue well enough and thought maybe I’d been too hard on it in the past.

I picked up Avengers #13 with the memory of that The List issue in mind. I thought I was going to be pleasantly surprised again. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I was enjoying the issue well enough through about the first eight pages or so, but then the Bendis-isms started piling on a little too heavy and–what’s worse–the Bachalo art didn’t really compensate that much. Aside from a few beautiful double-page spreads, Bachalo didn’t have much to work with here. The visuals seemed too claustrophobic, and I understand that the tight framing was part of the point, but even in the panels in which characters weren’t talking to the camera, I don’t feel Bachalo really had much to work with, or that he did much with what he had.

To put it bluntly, this comic was just boring, overly self-important, and full of obnoxious dialogue. Unless a reader is already invested in these characters basically for life, or committed to the grind of buying whatever’s hot in comics at the time, then I can’t understand how a comic like this finds an enthusiastic audience. If you liked this comic, then, hey, good for you. I’m not criticizing your buying decisions. But, trying to examine things from as objective a standpoint as possible, I don’t see how a comic like this really GIVES or SIGNIFIES anything worthwhile.

Though I’ve LOVED some work that Bendis did in the past (particularly Daredevil and early Ultimate Spidey), I don’t understand why there isn’t more quality-control on his dialogue, if not from editorial than at least from Bendis himself. At this point, I think it’s pretty obvious that for 90% of the dialogue he just writes whatever run-on blather pops into his head.

How can I say that? I just said it.

You just said it.

Yes I did.

Yes. You did. You said it. Not me.

Well, it isn’t something you would say.

It’s something YOU would say. It is a YOU thing to say.

“See what I did there?” That’s Bendis dialogue. It’s uninventive. Just because some people really talk that way doesn’t mean it’s interesting. I don’t understand why so many readers like that sort of dialogue in the quantities that Bendis heaps it out. Half the time, the annoying little turns of phrase don’t even match the personalities of the characters saying them.

In this issue, Hawkeye calls Thor “such a pillar of awesome”.

What the heck, man. “Such a pillar of awesome”? That’s how someone on twitter talks when they’re being a huckster for some product or website they want you to check out. It’s not how a veteran superhero would describe a fellow hero he’s been on many serious missions with. It’s just not believable dialogue. It degrades the idea of heroes.

Elsewhere in the comic Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel gossip like cliche schoolgirls over who likes who on the team. Again, this stuff is too silly and unintentionally goofy. There’d be nothing wrong with the dialogue if the characters saying it were half their age and a third their IQ. Dammit, I AM for realistic superheroes and realistic dialogue, but I can’t help feeling that this lax dialogue slides by in Avengers because we’re all getting so dumbed-down or something. It’s just STUPID dialogue to hear coming out of the mouths of the world’s greatest superheroes five minutes before they’re giving a serious press conference that’s supposed to inspire the world to get serious and rebuild.

Then there’s Spider-Man. Once again, he’s only there for comic relief. I’m supposed to think it’s cute that he interrupts the story several times to slurp his soda. Elsewhere in the issue he’s shown puking. Because the Hulk eating eggs grosses him out to that extent. Does that even make sense? It seems so random. Since when is Peter Parker so unbelievably sensitive that he pukes when someone eats eggs in front of him? It’s not even like the Hulk made that much of a mess while eating them. The scene screams Bendis wanting to throw in some humor but not knowing what to do. “I know, I’ll have the Hulk eating something….uh, eggs maybe? And that grosses Peter out.” It doesn’t even make sense for the Hulk to be getting fed eggs in front of everyone.

It’s just too stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling Bendis stupid. He clearly has talent. It’s even apparent in this comic. The way he orchestrates the scene-changes, almost to a montage-like effect at times, there’s a talent behind that.

But it’s the same talent that the “writers”/directors of Jersey Shore have. It’s a talent to show your audience random stuff that keeps their attention.

This issue reminded me of the worst television I’ve seen. When it tries to be profound or meaningful, it comes off as fake. Let me rephrase that: It comes off as fake to anyone who thinks about what’s going on beyond taking everything at face-value. Bendis knows the technique well: just show a silent panel of an Avenger looking sad or serious, and the uncritical reader will interpret that as very “meaningful”. Similarly, all an MTV director has to do is show a five-second cut of Snookie with a tear rolling down her cheek, and the target audience will think “Awwww!” And then it’s on to the next 5-second scene, which will dictate to us another random high-pitched emotion. No time to think about anything very long, but, hey, that jumpy-style works well when you’re trafficking in emotions and ideas that actually aren’t all that deep or well thought-out anyway.

Am I being harsh here? Yeah. But I really feel that stuff like this is dumbing us down as a society. And some people may scoff at that notion or roll their eyes, but that’s kind of only a symptom of the problem. As a whole, we’re getting less thoughtful as a society, and that’s kind of a problem. Do the early seasons of The Real World seem really classic and meaningful to people these days? They were known as very stupid, vapid, narcissistic broadcasting at the time. They probably seem so much better in hindsight because we as a people have been dumbed down so much more since then. It’s a sad process to watch, to watch people getting stupider and stupider, year after year. The bar keeps lowering. I know adults who can barely read anymore. They blame technology but, really, if a person can’t concentrate long enough to read the same comics he read easily when he was ten years old, that’s not Chris Claremont’s problem. That’s a problem that’s indicative of how society has gone.

I put Bendis comics like this (but not his Daredevil) in almost the same category as Jersey Shore. I honestly feel stupider after being exposed to this stuff. In a way, Bendis is worse because he cultivates an aura of being very thoughtful. But I really don’t think much thought goes into what he writes these days. Not when he can crank out as many scripts as he does. Not when there are purportedly so many continuity problems with what he writes (even between stories that he’s the author of). But I guess all this sort of writing goes down smoothly if you don’t think about it at all.

At one point in this issue Jarvis says of the Avengers “They are–all of them–beautiful creatures”. In the actual issue, however, all I saw where a bunch of self-righteous celebrities who wanted to manipulate the public, act-out their personal issues, pose self-righteously for camera, make over-dramatic puke noises, drink soda, and gossip. This is what we’re fine with glorifying as “heroic”, I guess. This stuff is what “the world’s greatest heroes” amounts to now. And the average age of the reader of this comic has got to be like 35. But interspersed between the story pages there are ads for children’s Iron Man sneakers and Barbie toothbrushes. All of these contradictions are just so bizarre, when you stand back and look at them. If you enjoyed this comic–fine. That’s your right. I’m glad people are enjoying life. But all I would ask is that some people start to notice and think about how bizarre and sad some of these contradictions are, what they say about our industry, and what they say about us as a readership when for the most part we barely even notice how problematic it all is. On a personal level, shouldn’t we at least try to be more thoughtful, more reflective, and less emotionally manipulated by MTV-style storytelling?

In a few years they’ll say Jersey Shore was a brilliant classic too.

Story: 1 - Poor
Art: 3 - Good

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