Saturday, November 24, 2012


NEW AVENGERS (v.2) # 31


BENDIS – story
GOYDOS - art
BEREDO – colors


And lo! It came to pass… here we are at the beginning of the end of the Bendis era on the Avengers franchise, as we examine the final arc on the New Avengers; specifically, as this storyline promises to wrap up the dangling plotline of the status of DOCTOR STRANGE, the life and death of DOCTOR VOODOO, the mystery of the entity calling itself AGAMOTTO, and the very fate of the SORCERER SUPREME!

In previous story arcs, long-time Avengers writer, Brian Michael Bendis has done much to malign the very character of Doctor Strange, by scripting the mystic master’s downfall, loss of Supreme Sorcerer status, and subsequent portrayal as a sad sack novice.
Oh yeah, lest I forget, Brian Michael Bendis also swore to “fix” Marvel’s base of magic usage, but instead merely turned it into a random generation of unoriginal sounding spells; listed, footnote style as they are utilized. By the demonic dealings of Dewey Decimal, I say desist!

***You can read my thoughts on Bendis’ previous handlings of the realms of Marvel Magic (just click either the 'BENDIS' or the 'NEW AVENGERS' labels in the list on the left side of the blog, for all the previous entries to be summoned forth - in reverse chronological order)…***

But here, in these final issues, Bendis has a chance to redeem not only himself, but Doctor Strange as well. Can he do it? We'll find out.

At the start of this issue, we look in on Daimon Hellstrom (the “Son of Satan”) who himself is viewing some disturbance on the astral plane. He immediately calls upon Doctor Strange to inquire as to what it’s all about. Thus, not even 2 panels into the issue and Bendis has already ignored current continuity.
In every other comic, ever since the events of ‘Fear Itself: the Fearless’ (including stories in ‘Journey Into Mystery’ and ‘Venom’) Daimon has turned heel and has been a villain. During the actual moment where he did revert to type, he betrayed Doctor Strange in the middle of a battle with demons. So, I doubt very highly that Doc would be someone who would expect a “friendly call” from the Son of Satan.

Not only that, but apparently Victoria Hand, Avenger’s liaison, comes by to ask Daimon if he has witnessed anything out of the ordinary. She claims that she has been sent by Captain America on “Avengers Business”. If Bendis actually read any comics but his own, he’d know that Captain America is keenly aware of Hellstrom’s return to wickedness, and wouldn’t have sent anyone to ask Daimon any favors. In point of fact, Daimon would know that as well, and so he would have known that the entity calling itself “Victoria Hand” would not be what she/it claims to be – thus sparing himself from the glowing spear to the chest.

Oh, minor nit… someone please tell Bendis that Daimon’s name is “HellSTROM” not “HellSTORM”. Hellstorm was a “superhero” name he used very briefly. Stupid (sexy) Bendis.
Although, truthfully, the blame may fall on the shoulders of letterer, Joe Caramagna.

The next scene shows more of Bendis’ trademark “dinner table theatre”, with the New Avengers doing what they do best; eat and crack jokes. *sigh*

However, Bendis does take this opportunity to clean up a small mess he made in a previous issue. Back in  Bendis' 2nd (adjectiveless) Avengers # 18, when all the various heroes were forced to come to Avengers Mansion, we saw Luke Cage (“Power Man”) and his wife, Jessica Jones (“Jewel”/”Alias”/”Power-Woman”) grousing that it was THEIR house, and that they paid for it “with our own damn money”, as if they actually bought the house with a big amount of cash – instead of a mere symbolic ONE DOLLAR transaction…with a dollar BORROWED from Danny “Iron Fist” Rand.

Well, here, finally, we hear Cage state that it was the $1.00 gift purchase (back in issue # 1 of Bendis' 2nd  volume of "adjectiveless" Avengers) that made Avengers Manse into ‘Casa del Cage’. Yes. It's an extremely minor nit, but one that bugged me since that issue, because it seemed that Bendis couldn’t keep his own facts straight.

After a quick and cute series of jokes from Spider-Man, we cut to Miami where Jennifer Kale (sorceress and friend of Man-Thing) is under attack by the same entity who is possessing “Victoria Hand”. I won’t pick yet another nit by asking why Kale is wearing Arcanna’s old costume. I mean… how many mistakes can occur in the first 6 pages?  Well, add yet another, because since when can Jennifer Kale use her magic to FLY?

It’s been established that Doctor Strange was able to FLY due to use of the Cloak of Levitation, and though he could levitate without it, flight would be either improbable or very physically taxing (or perhaps requiring a spell of the “Winds of Watoom” to keep him aloft). So while Strange has been shown to be flying around as of late without the Cloak, one can hope that a logical reason can be given (although none has been offered as yet; because to quote Joe Quesada; “It’s magic, we don’t have to explain it!”) My guess is that he is either expending the energy to call forth Watoomb OR those nifty red gauntlets he’s been wearing of late have some flight spell built in.
However, Jennifer Kale, as powerful as she might be, is still not in Doctor Strange’s class (even in his currently weakened state - although as a pupil of Dakimh the Enchanter and inheritor of the mystic might of Zhered-Na, she very well has the potential to be), so again I wonder as to how she is shown to be flying? Screw it. Let’s just say it’s the Winds of Watoomb so I can move past it.

Sadly, Kale won’t be able to move past it as she too is impaled by the mystic lance.
(Although, to my eyes, judging by “Victoria’s” reaction, it seems as if Kale successfully blocked the attack and teleported away just at the last moment.)

The artwork of Michael Gaydos in the issue makes it difficult to really get a firm idea of the nuances of what is going on, as his work is sloppier than ever and gets progressively worse as the issue progresses.

The scene of Doctor Strange and Iron Fist meditating is nice to see – even if Iron Fist can’t see,m to keep his mind on the spiritual realm. The punchline of the set-up is worth it, and whether Strange is serious or just dryly agreeing with Danny Rand so that they can focus on their meditations, it’s still funny either way.

Next we have Ms. Marvel (now calling herself Captain Marvel) and Jessica “Jewel” Jones-Cage talking “girl talk”, but despite the nice interaction between the two women the entire scene is marred by the strange and unnatural habit of calling the baby; “it”. Having the mother of an infant saying; “IT is a cute baby” is wrong on every level and I challenge anyone to find a loving mother who refers to her baby as ‘IT”.

The issue wraps with a scene involving the FBI, SHIELD and the New Avengers all in hot debate over the reports coming in about Jennifer Kale’s disappearance.
The entity that is possessing Victoria Hand leaves her for the superior form of Captain (Ms.) Marvel and the last thing we see is what is supposed to be a menacing, grinning look on the countenance of Capt. Marvel, but it looks more like (as a friend of mine referred to it) a really bad portrait drawn by a 10 year old, of his mom.  LOL!

Obviously, it is evident to everyone that this possessing spirit is Daniel Drumm, the brother of Jericho Drumm – out to take revenge on the team for the death of his brother during the whole “Agamotto” mess (all you need to know about that [HERE].


Come back to read the review of the next issue [HERE].


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