Review Date: 01/30/2009

My brother Dave is visiting here this week in the good land of Bongo Congo, and recommended that I read
and review two of this week's ongoing Avenger comic lines.  So let's see if I like the issues as much as he did:

Dark Avengers #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Brian Michael Bendis: Writer
Mike Deodato: Art
Rain Beredo: Color Art
       Marvel has just published issue #1 of a new Dark Avengers comic line, with Brian Michael Bendis as writer, Mike Deodato and artist and Rain Beredo as colorist.  The new line is one of several ongoing Avengers comic lines, along with other Marvel hero comics, dealing with the aftermath of the Skrull secret invasion of Earth, a subject that's been prominent in Marvel comics within the past year.
      Issue #1 of Dark Avengers begins with a clear one-page summary of the highlights of the secret invasion storyarc, from the initial invasion to the penultimate battle in Central Park, New York, where the Avengers and other heroes allied with major bad-guys from the Marvel Universe to barely defeat the alien invaders.  Apparently Harry Osborn, Spiderman's Green Goblin enemy, saved the day and now has risen to the top of the power pyramid in the U.S. national security network, replacing Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D and Tony Stark as superhero heads of American security and defense.
     As expected, Osborn is an evil wolf in good-guy sheep's clothing.  The plot in issue #1 focuses on Osborn recruiting one-by-one bad guys to serve in false good-guy identities, along with a few legitimate good guys, as a new version of The Avengers.  At the same time, Osborn works within the U.S. federal security bureaucracy to build a new agency called H.A.M.M.E.R. to replace S.H.I.E.L.D.  A more limited sub-plot in this issue addresses Osborn's secret ally Dr. Doom being pursued and confronted by his time-traveling nemesis, the enchantress Morgana Le Fay.
     One of writer Bendis's strong points in any comic that he writes is his ability to weave into his story believable aspects of real-world political realism.  Here, he once again succeeds in bringing real-world complexity to what could have been a simplistic, good-guy, bad-guy superhero storyline.  For example, although Ms. Marvel sees through Osborn and initially rejects his offer to lead this new anti-hero team, she has to struggle with the painful fact that two decent heroes, Ares and Sentry, are willing to knowingly blend themselves into this new, questionable world that Osborn is creating.
     On one storytelling level, the plot here is a comment on our real-world dilemma of trying to maintain our own post-9/11 national security in a world that often tempts us to consider crossing the line to the dark side in addressing the problems of terrorism and national security.  I know that sounds heavy and preachy, but Bendis manages to present the issue here in a simple and clear way that blends nicely into a traditional superhero comic book story, giving the reader a decent balance between both comic book entertainment and political food-for-thought on this serious subject.

1 The Mighty Avengers #21
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Dan Slott: Writer
Khoi Pham: Penciller
Allen Martinez & Danny Miki: Inkers
     Our second Avengers comic review for this week is the current issue #21 of The Mighty Avengers, scripted by Dan Slott and drawn by Khoi Pham, Allen Martinez and Danny Miki.  As with Dark Avengers #1, the issue begins with a very helpful one-page narrative summary of previous events, again summarzing the Skrull Invasion highlights, but then adding that Avengers member Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch, is now insane from the nature of her powers and considered very dangerous.
       The plot is a fast-paced storyline in which simultaneous disasters of Biblical proportion (i.e., tidal waves of blood, etc.), caused by a villain whom I won't reveal here, are occurring in cities the world over.  Various characters including The Vision and Harry Osborn with his New Avengers struggle to address the situation, while Hercules, Amadeus Cho and old Avengers servant Edwin Jarvis seek out Antman Henry Pym to try and team-up to figure-out what's going-on.  Interwoven throughout is a sub-plot of The Scarlet Witch traveling the globe to find individual heros such as The Hulk and John Walker, with an inference that she's not attacking them but somehow trying to assemble them with her against whatever's causing the international catastrophe.
      While not on a high quality par with Bendis's Avenger's story reviewed above, this is still a good issue; I liked reading a modern-day Avengers story that featured traditional, old-school Avenger characters such as The Scarlet Witch, Edwin Jarvis and Henry Pym, who are often overshadowed in Marvel stories these days by more newcomer characters.  There are some nice flashback sequences throughout the story regarding very early Avenger history.  The creative team also does a very nice job of blending The Scarlet Witch's insanity with a still-existing side of her character that reaches out to address the world-wide problems as she seeks to ally herself with The Avengers.
     So all-in-all, a thumbs-up recommendation for both Avengers comics, with Dark Avengers #1 giving us a cutting-edge, new approach and The Mighty Avengers #21 complementing that new-school side of the Avengers world with an action-paced story centering around traditional, founding Avengers characters in today's post-Skrull Invasion World.  Good King Leonardo agrees with my brother Dave, and decrees that ye shall consider reading both comics for some solid Avengers Assemble entertainment!
      Thor Follow-Up: Just a quick heads-up, that in follow-up to my positive recommendation last week regarding the current issue #12 of The Mighty Thor, I noticed the other day that issues #1 through #6 are already assembled in graphic novel reprint format, so you might want to check-out those first six issues along with the current comic issues on the That's Entertainmnet wall of new stuff.

Contest Reminder !!!

Finally, King Leonardo directs me to remind you all that we have another week remaining in our current contest to submit your favorite single comic book issue of the decade of the 1970's, telling us why your comic is so near and dear to your Year 2009 heart.  Again, it doesn't have to be an iconic comic of that decade, just something that you liked or loved a lot.  So e-mail those contest submittals to Gordon_A@msn.com!

'Til next week, Happy Comic Book reading!


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