Wednesday, 4 September 2013

New Avengers: Secrets and Lies Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: David Finch, Frank Cho, Rick Mays

Recently I've decided to go through my Avengers graphic novels, and comics since Brian Michael Bendis started his long run in the various titles, reviewing them as well, and plan on reading and reviewing the events that happen in between (Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege, Fear Itself, and Avengers Vs X-Men). This is now my fourth review Bendis' Avengers run, and third from The New Avengers series.


Captain America tries to get Daredevil to join the team, and help them capture Silver Samurai, but still not wanting to put them in danger he puts Cap in touch with someone who has the same skill sets as him, and the question becomes, who is Ronin? Also Spider-Woman secrets come out.


This was an amazing story and although the last volume was probably slightly better, this one wasn't far off. Brian Michael Bendis once again produced the goods, and like the previous two volumes in this series, this was an amazing story. Technically this was two stories in one book, but both stories kind of merged together, as the end of the first one set-up the second one. Either way they were both good, and I loved that the mystery that's been though the series has continued, as well as it getting revealed. Now Bendis run on Avengers in general gets a lot of criticism, and although I personally like his run as a whole, I can understand why people feel this way, as most of his work after the start of The Heroic Age was poor, and some even before that, but I still prefer to remember the good times, as there were plenty of them. Anyway, besides the mystery factor that hanged over this volume as a whole, it still contained plenty of action, and emotion, and although it wasn't quite as emotional as the previous volume, it still had plenty of it, and Bendis knew exactly when to put it in, which was brilliant. I also liked how Bendis showed the team spirit in this volume, both out in the field against The Hand, and in Avengers Tower prior to there press conference, and I really liked the way he also continued to show the different characteristics, and personalities of the team.

This volume saw three artists working on it, with David Finch returning to make his final contribution to the series in the first story, Frank Cho making his first contribution with the second story, and Rick Mays who's art from Giant-Size Spider-Woman #1 featured in between. I'll start from the start with Finch, who I was happy to see return, even though I preferred Steve McNiven's art on the last volume. I've really liked Finch's art throughout the stories he's featured on, an although he's not the best artist on things like facial features, he can't half draw an epic action sequence. The dramatic tone of his artwork is also brilliant, as it really makes the art feel more alive, and exciting. I also love the way he lays out his artwork, as it also make the story more dramatic, and exciting. Overall Finch's art is brilliant, and although he has his small problems, like facial expressions, he makes up in other areas, and his art as a whole is outstanding. I'll next talk about Mays, an artist who's work I don't really know much about. I won't go into detail on this as it didn't really take up much of the volume, but I will say that I wasn't a fan. Mays' art appears to suit the more fun style stories, and although you could say that this was fun in some ways, it was also serious at times, and Mays' art didn't suit that. I also didn't like how he drew the character's emotions, as it looked too unrealistic, and although I feel that's the aim of his artwork, it's just not for me. I finally get to my favourite artist working on this volume, Cho. I've really enjoyed Cho's art over the years, so seeing it in this book was amazing, and the art itself was nothing short of stunning. The detail was simply outstanding, as everything looked amazing, and perfect, even the small details. I also much preferred how he re-drew one of the sequences Mas' drew in the Spider-Woman story, as it looked much more realistic, and dramatic. I also loved how Cho drew all the characters as everyone looked amazing besides the Sentry, who just looked a little odd, and not the powerful godlike character that he is. Overall Cho's art was phenomenal, and easily the best in the volume.

The first story sees the New Avengers travel to Japan to capture the Silver Samurai, but get more than they bargained for. I've loved how Bendis has continued this story true to the way it started, and how he's been able to give some interesting stories along the way. Although the main story itself in this wasn't overly interesting, the action during, and the story that was getting developed in the background with HYDRA, the Hand, and S.H.I.E.L.D. was, and it made this one of the most intersting, and unique conspiracy stories that I've read in comics. Now it's not the best conspiracy story, not by a long shot, but the suspense throughout, and the curiousness I have whilst reading it makes it very dramatic. I also liked how we saw a confused, and slightly conflicted Silver Samari in this story, as it made a change from the serious, and deadly one that we usually see, and although I would have still liked to have seen him in action, it was nice how he was used in this story.

It was revealed in the first volume of this series that Spider-Woman was working for someone else, and this volume reveals who. I don't know if any other series had said who Spider-Woman was working for, and although I knew anyway, having read later issues this is the first time I think it's properly revealed in this series. I won't spoil it for anyone who doesn't know, but I will say how I felt on the sequence where Spider-Woman talked to the person. It was very dramatic, and suspenseful, and you could really see the difference in characteristics, as well as the timidness, and conflict in Spider-Woman, which was very interesting. I also liked how this added to the mystery that I talked about in the previous paragraph, and it builds more tension up in the series, and when I first read it, it made me want to find out more, which was brilliant.

Who is Ronin? This new mysterious character featured in the first story, and when I first read through this is what I kept thinking, and that was the whole idea. I won't reveal who it is for anyone who knows nothing about this character, story, or anything related (people who've read the story, or know the character will know anyway), but I will say how I felt this time round, and how it compared to my original read. First time through this was a total mystery, and even when it was revealed I still didn't know who it was, as I hadn't seen them before. After reading it again it's more obvious, obviously, but it was still slightly suspenseful, and dramatic. I did however have more questions, as there were things about the character in this persona that I felt was questionable, as now that I know more about the character there were just things that felt odd. I wont mention specifics as I'm sure it will give it away, but anyone that wants to know more leave a comment and I'll PM you.

The middle story from Giant-Sized Spider-Woman although slightly interesting wasn't really needed, as it was retold throughout the second story, but it was nice to see it in more depth before hand, and it gave more impact to the second story, as it gave more background, enhancing the emotions within, although you could still skip it.

The second story featured heavily on Spider-Woman's secrets, and how the public would react to the New Avengers. I already talked a bit about Spider-Woman's secrets in a previous paragraph, but seems they're two different stories, and two different circumstances, I felt that I'd expand on it. Again I won't give away spoilers, as it'd defeat the purpose of avoiding them before, but again I will say how I felt. This was much more dramatic, and shocking than what was learned earlier, and it made for a brilliant twist to the overall story. Although the secret itself was the most interesting thing in this story, seeing Captain America grilling Spider-Woman for information was brilliant, and I loved how you could see the conflict within her. Overall this secret was what interested me the most in this volume, and I look forward to reading more (even though I know what happens).

The final issue also featured Ms. Marvel, visiting the New Avengers prior to the press conference What I liked most about her appearance was that her thoughts was in the form of a blog, which was very unique, and a clever addition from Bendis. I did however find it a bit mean that he didn't allow her to have any comments on it, as I'd have thought a superhero's blog would have ton's of hits, and comments. Anyway besides this I liked her appearance as it showed the transition between old, and new, as although she was offered a place on this new team, she understands that it's a new time, and change is needed, and that she needs to be a solo hero, which was brilliant.

Final Verdict

This was an amazing volume, with two amazing stories, that merged together nicely. Although both stories were very different, with one being mainly action based, and the other being more emotional, they both were very mysterious, and I loved the way Bendis handled that, as well as the way he revealed the mystery, whilst also leaving some doors closed. I would highly recommend this volume, as although Bendis' run on Avengers has had bad criticism overall, it started amazingly, and had ton's of brilliant moments, with this being one of them.

Rating: 5/5

The next Avengers book I'll be reviewing will be New Avengers: The Collective.