Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr. & Steve McNiven
I've recently decided to go through certain Marvel series, with my Avengers novels and comics since Brian Michael Bendis started his near decade run being the main ones, re-reading, and reviewing them. I also plan on re-reading, and reviewing the Marvel events that come between these novels (Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege,Fear Itself, and Avengers Vs X-Men) as well as certain other series. This is now my fifth review on Bendis' Avengers run, and fourth from The New Avengers series.
A strange being (The Collective) crashes into a village in Alaska destroying it, and killing innocents at the same time. When S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attempt to contain the situation (which include using Alpha Flight) fail, Maria Hill reluctantly has to ask the New Avengers for help, but can they beat this mysterious being?
This was a brilliant story, and although it wasn't anywhere near as good as the previous stories in this series, it was still very good. Brian Michael Bendis did an excellent job on this story, and although overall it wasn't as high a quality of work as the previous stories, it still had a lot of positives, and was very enjoyable. The only problem I had with this story was the pace of the development, as although there was ton's of action, and excitement, the story itself developed a bit slowly. The story itself also didn't feel quite as deep as the previous ones, as it really appeared to be one huge sequence, and although it did chance scenery from time to time, overall it felt like one big continuous fight, with breathing room in the middle. The action as I was however very good, and added a lot of excitement, but the main positive for me in this story was the mystery over who this being is, as well as the rift between the New Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D. (Maria Hill in particular). I also liked how Bendis used the secrets that the New Avengers have been keeping from House of M in this story, as well as the reference to the possible Super-Human Registration Act, and overall although this story wasn't outstandingly brilliant, it was still amazing.
This story was mainly drawn by Mike Deodato, Jr., who drew four out of the five issues, with Steve McNiven drawing the remaining issue. McNiven's issue opened the story so I'll talk about that first. I really enjoyed McNiven's art on New Avengers: The Sentry, as well as anything he's worked on, with Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Old Man Logan being the ones that have appealed to me the most. Anyway, his art on the issue he worked on was very detailed, and the emotion throughout was brilliantly handled. I also loved how he made the sequences look very dramatic in the way he laid them out, and overall his art was simply stunning, and I was happy to see him feature in this story. Deodato Jr.'s art was however phenomenal, and with someone like McNiven working on the starter issue it takes someone special to top that, and Deodato Jr.'s the man for that. Although they are both brilliant artists, they also both have different styles, and the reason that I love Deodato Jr.'s art more is that it's much more realistic, and detailed, as although McNiven's art is very detailed, and realistic, it's just not quite as detailed and realistic as Deodato Jr.'s is. Deodato Jr.'s also does a marvellous job of drawing the character's facial expressions, as you can really feel the emotion throughout. The layout of Deodato Jr.'s art was also brilliant, and just like McNiven's it added much more drama to the story. The only minor thing that I wasn't happy, or upset on about Deodato Jr.'s art was the way he drew Iron Man, as I neither loved, nor hated his rendition of Iron Man in this story, but I do know that it's not one of my favourites.
The centre of this story was revolved around a being, named the Collective that seemed to be unstoppable. I won't go into too much details about this beings characteristics, but I will say a minor thing about him, which is he appears to have many different powers. This was a very interesting thing to add to a character, and it was the perfect thing to put against the New Avengers, as with it being something unknown, as well as something that has many powers, it makes as a very tough, and serious opponent for the New Avengers. Besides this the mysterious nature behind this character was very interesting, as although they originally think he's an alien, he appears to be very human in appearance. Although I won't go into details about the things that were revealed about this character apart from what I've already said, I will say that once more stuff was revealed it made the story more interesting, the only sad thing was that the mystery itself wasn't as exciting as it could have been.
WARNING: SMALL SPOILER!
Alpha Flight also made an appearance in this story, all be it very brief. Although I loved there appearance, all be it small, I wasn't happy that most of the team died during this, as whilst trying to stop the Collective, they are killed. Although for this type of story there needs to be sacrifice, I personally felt it was an unjust death for Alpha Flight, as they are barely in the fight, and then die, which to me felt like a waste. It did however add a lot of shock and drama to the story, showing that the New Avengers have something big to deal with, but I still see it as a death that wasn't really fitting for a team such as Alpha Flight.
This story also showed a rift in the relationship between the New Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., and although since there formation they've not necessarily been on good terms, the secrets that the New Avengers are keeping about the House of M seem to be making that rift much bigger. The overall continuation of House of M in this story was brilliant, and although it was mentioned in the previous story it wasn't on as big a scale. I also liked that you see the kind of person Maria Hill is over this, as at one point she's more concerned about finding out about House of M than stopping the Collective. The way that the New Avengers also tried to keep as much from Hill, and S.H.I.E.L.D. as they could also showed that they didn't trust them, which was interesting.
The fights between the New Avengers, and the Collective, whether with the New Avengers members working alone, or together was brilliant, and very exciting. The fights that I personally saw as the most interesting were when Ms. Marvel (who was helping the New Avengers out), Iron Man, and the Sentry took turns at fighting the Collective on there own. I won't go into details about the fights as to avoid spoilers, but I will say a little about the Sentry's attempt. I've always seen the Sentry as the most powerful person on the earth, so to see someone able to fight him like his equal was interesting, and surprising, as when Sentry got involved I thought the fight would be over in no time.
This story also saw appearances from the Vision, and Daisy Johnson. With the history Vision has with the Avengers I was ecstatic to see him make an appearance, and although it wasn't necessarily his best appearance, it was still nice. I also really enjoyed seeing Daisy Johnson make an appearance as I really enjoyed her in Secret War, and have also found the character interesting in other series'. I mainly found it interesting that during this story she thought that Captain America wanted her to become a member of the New Avengers, picking her superhero name as Quake, a name that she'd later use. Although I don't want to say too much more about these appearances as to avoid spoilers, it was very nice to see them appear, as with a story that needs a lot of characters to work, it would be stupid not to involve these two characters.
Although technically the weakest story in the first four New Avengers stories, this was still an amazing story. The story itself also had a very good mysterious background, and the action was very exciting, but at the same time the story didn't quite hit the mark, as it was a bit slow, and didn't have as much depth as the previous stories. I would however still highly recommend this story as it was still very entertaining, and well worth the read.
The next Avengers book I'll be reviewing will be New Avengers: Civil War.
Before that however I'll be reviewing Civil War itself.