Artist: David Finch
With Brian Michael Bendis' run on the Avengers officially coming to an end with Age of Ultron, I've decided to go through all my Avengers series since he took over the reigns with this ground breaking story that was the foundation for a new era for the Avengers.
Jack of Hearts returns after being dead, and causes an explosion that destroys Avengers Mansion, and kills Ant-Man (Lang). After this the Avengers are attacked by both Ultron's, and the Kree, with everyone wondering if all this is connected.
This was a terrific book, and truly a great way to bring upon a new era for the Avengers. There was a lot of controversy over this story when it first came out, as a lot of fans weren't happy with the drastic changes that the story brought, but having not read the story then I can't really make a fair comment on that. What I can say is that having read most of Bendis' run on the Avengers prior to this I was happy to read his first story, and have now enjoyed reading it for a second time, being able to take a lot more in. Although Bendis' run on Avengers got a bit sketchy after the start of The Heroic Age, his work on The New Avengers, The Mighty Avengers, and Dark Avengers prior to that was brilliant, and although his final Avengers story Age of Ultron has been far from impressive (it's been extremely disappointing), I'll remember Bendis' run, which lasted the better part of a decade for the positives, as although the last few years of this run have been sketchy, overall it's been brilliant. As I was saying before talking about Bendis' run in general, this was an amazing book, and a brilliant opening chapter to Bendis' run, and although I can see why long time fans at the time may have been upset about the way the Avengers were treated in this story, I personally liked to see them getting put through the mill, as what better way to introduce a new fresh look for the Avengers than totally and utterly decimating the current team. I also loved how Bendis handled the whole emotional side to this story, as with all the things happening during this story, the Avengers weren't half on an emotional roller-coaster getting attacked right, left and centre, and overall not knowing what to do. Bendis also did a fabulous job of making this story run smoothly, as with all the action that is taking place in this story, along with all the characters featured, it'd be easy to let things go astray every now and then, but Bendis managed to avoid that, keeping the story focused.
The art from David Finch was brilliant, and although at times the facial expressions felt slightly awkward, his artwork was overall phenomenal, and really made this story vibrant, and dramatic. I've been a fan of Finch's art for a fair few years now, and although there are ton's of artists that I prefer over him, I still enjoy seeing his art, as I loved seeing it in Ultimate X-Men, Batman: The Dark Knight, Justice League of America, Ultimatum, X-Men: Second Coming #1, as well as other series, or individual comics. Anyway, Finch's art on this story was nothing short of amazing, and although there were the odd moment that felt odd, it's easily forgiveable considering that the rest of the artwork was fantastic. The action was probably the best thing art wise, as he made everything look explosive, also adding yet more drama, and suspense. There was however one piece of artwork that I was a bit worried on, and that's when it showed Iron Man in his suit, but it appeared that he was standing in front of a large console. I'm pretty sure that this has been done by other artists in the past, and I personally don't understand it, as although it looks very nice, it's not very realistic, as the console would fill at the most his helmet. There were other artists that worked on Avengers Finale montage sequence, ranging from George Pérez, Alex Maleev, Steve Epting, Eric Powell, Darick Robertson, David Mack, Gary Frank, Steve McNiven, Jim Cheung, and others, all adding there unique styles, creating one of the best montages that I've ever seen. Olivier Coipel also produced artwork for the past sequences in Avengers #503, and although this wasn't his best artwork, it was still a nice touch, and made them sequences feel more innocent, giving a brilliant transparency between the two periods of time.
This book didn't waste any time getting into the action, and it would continue like this throughout. The book started with Jack of Hearts returning, and blowing up Avengers Mansion, but this wouldn't be all that would affect the Avengers, as they would later be attacked by a bunch of Ultron's that used Vision to arrive, and then by the Kree army, not giving the Avengers any chance to breath. This made for a very entertaining story, and it also added mystery, but what it did however also do was not give much chance for development. Fair enough I loved all the action in this book, and overall it's an amazing story, but I felt that this was just meant to be one huge exciting, action packed story to destroy the Avengers, so as to make room for the New Avengers, and due to that we didn't really get much background as to what was actually happening, and causing this until the last issue of the story (not counting the Finale issue). I could however still look over this fact, as this was still a very fun, and energised story, but the lack of background story was however the only thing that made this story less than perfect, although it was still very good.
She-Hulk went ballistic in this story, and although it was explained later in the story, it was still very interesting, and kept the excitement, and drama that this story oozed with flowing. Besides that what interested me the most about this is that I for one can't say that I've seen She-Hulk as angry as this, as although we know her cousin the Hulk can get stronger and stronger being much more powerful that She-Hulk, I can't recall actually seeing She-Hulk this powerful, as she appeared as strong as her cousin, and looked quite like him at times also. It was the art from Finch that really did it for me, as although it was slightly strange seeing She-Hulk similar to her cousin, it was what was needed for this story, and Finch showed it perfectly.
A call to arms. After hearing about the troubles that had befallen on the Avengers, past members including Black Panther, Beast, Spider-Man, Namor, Moon Knight, Wonder Man and more, as well as other hero's including the Fantastic Four, and Daredevil, and more. This was a brilliant thing for the story, as it added more hope for the team, as with both injuries, and fatalities for some members of the main team, it shows that in their hour of need that they're not forgotten about, and that they have friends. I also liked this as you got to see more characters in the story, and although I mostly feel that too many characters weaken a story, in this case I feel that it's made it stronger, as with this being the last story before the new series, that would have new characters, it was nice to see some old faces, with members that have been Avengers, and members that people have wanted to be Avengers, as it was a fitting this to do. I also liked how it would show things that would come in the new series, as although not doing this directly, we got to see characters that would feature in the new series, which would have made the transition between the teams more smoother for fans at the time.
Who was behind all these events? I won't spoil this for anyone who knows nothing about this story (people who've read/know the story will know who I'm talking about), as it's the big mystery throughout, but I will say what I felt about this situation. I have to say it became quite clear at one point who was the main person behind all these catastrophic events that the Avengers went through, and it became even more clearer just before it was revealed. I thought this was a fun twist, as it showed that even the Avengers could be surprised. I also liked how it was handled, as you could see the emotional toll it had on certain Avenger members, which made the ending more emotionally touching, and fitting.
Although Avengers Finale was visually stunning, the issue itself was also brilliant, and a fitting way to end the series. Although the story itself had finished in the previous issue, the finale issue features the remaining Avengers reminiscing over previous moments, including the Kree/Skrull War, the Avengers pulling Captain America out of the ice from The Avengers #4, the origin of the Avengers from The Avengers #1, and more. What I liked most about these flashback double pages was that it gave new readers a chance to get caught up on some of the more key moments in the Avengers history, and as I already said all the different artists that featured on these double page moments were brilliant, and although there were some I preferred more, they were all good.
This was a brilliant start to Brian Michael Bendis' run on the Avengers, and although the development of the back story prevented this from being a perfect story, it was still very exciting, dramatic, and was action packed throughout. I would highly recommend this story, as although Bendis' final Avengers story, Age of Ultron has been poor, he did do some amazing stories, and this is one of them.
The next Avengers book I'll be reviewing will be New Avengers: Breakout.