While the rest of the Marvel Universe is either spinning it’s wheels waiting for the whole Avengers vs. X-Men thing to wrap up or are directly involved with the wrap-up, The New Avengers is moving in a new direction. For starters we have Luke Cage and his wife leaving the Avengers to try and build a stable family life for their baby. In addition to that, we now have what looks like a major player on the astral plane circuit trying to wreak havoc.
New Avengers #31 starts with an impromptu appearance from Daimon Hellstrom. Turns out, the Devil’s son is witnessing some strange anomalies in the astral plane. Something very powerful is leaping between two worlds and Hellstrom looks to Doctor Strange to help him figure out who or what it is. Cue Victoria Hand. She tells Hellstrom she’s there on official business with The New Avengers and then proceeds to stab him with a sword made of lightning (or magic). Looks as though our dear Ms. Hand is possessed with the same baddy that’s been throwing rocks at the astral plane.
Domestic unrest steps in when we switch to the Avengers Mansion. Luke Cage and his wife are leaving, some are happy for them, some don’t want them to go. The new Captain Marvel even fears that this will be the end of the New Avengers. Meanwhile, in the world of the possessed Victoria Hand, a battle ensues between the corrupted Hand and Jennifer Kale. Again, the lightning sword appears and drains the power from Kale. Back at the Avengers Mansion, the unrest continues until the FBI shows up wanting to take Victoria Hand in for questioning.
The New Avengers want to know why, as does SHIELD. Nothing like Feds, SHIELDS and Avengers sparring over the possessed body of a former Hydra agent now working for the world’s biggest superhero team. As the argument rages on, Victoria Hand screams and faints. She’s picked up by the new Captain Marvel and just before the issue ends, we are let in on the fact that whatever possessed Hand now has Captain Marvel. It’s never good when one of the most powerful heroes loses their faculties to a demon or any kind of evil entity.
Brian Michael Bendis does a nice job of keeping the enemy a secret and hooking us into this story line. After Mutant on Avenger action, it’d be nice to see our heroes take on something big, bad and mean from another dimension. Recently, it’s been with New Avengers that Bendis has really shined. His dialogue is crisp, with all the characters speaking like we expect them to and his plots have been interesting. Though low on the radar, the New Avengers work during AvX was some of the better tie-in work Marvel offered us.
I wasn’t as big a fan of Michael Gaydos’s art. His lines are weak and they push across the line between a loose and flowing fine art look and that of just being sloppy. Gaydos’s faces seem to be one step away from melting and his overreliance on shadow just kills any depth to the work. He also has trouble not making female faces look incredibly masculine. Shaky artwork aside, New Avengers #31 is a well-crafted kick off to what seems like a good story.
(4 Story, 2 Art)