It was bound to happen. The New Avengers rebooted with such a bang that the inevitable ho-hum storyline had to appear at some point. Cue pretty much this entire Superia story, which has run off the rails for two main reasons. The first is, who cares? Fighting Superia, more having to do with H.A.M.M.E.R., wondering whose side Victoria Hand is on, none of it is very exciting. Plus, not to be unkind, but the life or death of Mockingbird isn’t exactly shaking the world of comics to its core. The second problem is the sub-plot surrounding Nick Fury in the fifties and his first round of Avengers. I’ll get more into that later.
The New Avengers #13 opens around a lot of chaos. The team has just struck at Superia who escaped and now they have a H.A.M.M.E.R. agent in question, though who that is, is never made clear. Spider-Man stumbles onto something about a giant growth hormone, there’s an explosion and then the team manages to knock out Superia, I think. Brian Michael Bendis must have been on a serious deadline for this issue because it’s a muddled mess. Bendis has always hit or miss for me because of his inability to reel it in when it needs to be. This issue of New Avengers is like a spool of thread rolling down a hill, it unwinds very quickly.
Couple that with his focus on tired characters and you get a storyline that lacks punch. I was also a little irritated at how overblown the Thing’s reaction to Mockingbird was. It’s so obviously a push for the Thing’s “Fear Itself” transformation. I enjoyed Wolverine and Hawkeye playing their version of bad cop/bad cop but overall I found Bendis’ dialog to be out of sync and a little forced.
The sub-plot is even worse. Not only is the story dull and repetitive, the art is fall down awful. Call out the dogs, demand my head on a stick, but Howard Chaykin’s demented attempt at old school art is hard to even look at. Why do all his faces look like they have impacted wisdom teeth? There’s also this cartoon look to them, almost like rejected work from Mad Magazine. To me, this split story arc wasn’t a great choice by Bendis and coupling it with Chaykin’s art just drags it further down. Thankfully most of issue 13 is dedicated to the modern day Avengers so the lion’s share of the art is in the capable hands of Mike Deodato.
Deodato has a nice command of the human form, though his version of Luke Cage seemed a little ill proportioned. I was also impressed with his ability to convey action. There’s a nice chunk of action in New Avengers 13 and Deodato translates it nicely. The action helps by offering a break from the muddled story. I’m still a fan of The New Avengers and, for the most part, of Brian Michael Bendis. Issue #13 is hopefully more of a hiccup in what has otherwise been great storytelling.