Artist: Steve McNiven
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), and certain other series as well (Captain America and Thor being the main ones). This is now my third review on Bendis' Avengers run, following my reviews on Avengers Disassembled, and New Avengers: Breakout.
Iron Man brings the Illuminati (Doctor Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X, Black Bolt, and Namor) together to discus the Sentry (Robert Reynolds). Iron Man, along with Captain America, and S.H.I.E.L.D. go to find the Sentry, whilst the rest of the New Avengers deal with one of the escaped supervillains, Wrecker.
This was a fantastic book, and a brilliant continuation to the series. This is actually my first time reading this story, as although I now own all of Bendis' Avengers run in one form or another, I've only been able to get this volume and New Avengers: Siege recently (this was another reason for going through the run from start). Anyway, Brian Michael Bendis has done an amazing job on this story, and has continued the series brilliantly, putting the final piece of the original assembly together. The previous two stories in Bendis' run have been very much action packed, and although this story has it's fair share of action, it's mostly an emotional story, re-introducing the Sentry properly, and developing who he is as a character, which was brilliant, ans something I found really interesting, especially considering I was a fan of him throughout Bendis' run. I also loved the way Bendis included all the additional characters, and that there was a big mystery over they're relationship with the Sentry, which was brilliant, and really made the story more emotional, and unique. It was also nice that despite the fact that this story was mainly centred around Sentry, it still felt like a team book, and that this was only necessary to make the team whole.
This book was the first in Bendis' run not to feature art from David Finch, and although Finch would return later for another few issues it became apparent that this series would be getting a different artist. The art on this story was from Steve McNiven, and he did a marvellous job, and although it's not the best art I've seen from him, it's still amazing, and I much prefer it to Finch's (although I still like FInch's). I've really enjoyed McNiven's art over the years, especially on the likes of Civil War, Captain America, Old Man Logan, and most recently Guardians of the Galaxy, and always love seeing his artwork. The detail in McNiven's artwork is simply amazing, and although there's really minor imperfections, it's genuinely fantastic, and really makes the story come alive. I also love the way he draws the character's facial expression, as again although there are minor imperfections it's brilliant, and really shows a lot of emotion, and depth. The way McNiven laid the artwork out was also fantastic, and it, along with the way he drew the character's really gave a lot more drama to the story, which I loved. I was however still slightly annoyed with the way the interior of Iron Man's suits been drawn, with it having the look of him standing at a huge monitor, and although I know this has been done by many artists (Finch did it in Disassembled), it still annoy's me, as it's very unrealistic, but at the end of the day that's probably a writers fault. Besides that the art was phenomenal, and although I didn't like the unrealism of that it still looked amazing.
Although this story was about the introduction of the Sentry into the New Avengers, as well as exploring his past, it also featured the Illuminati for the first time. Although I'd never really read a lot about the Illuminati until they became the main team in the newest New Avengers series, I still enjoyed seeing them crop up every now and then, and find the concept of a group of individuals that collect to discuss the worlds problems is brilliant, and was happy to see their first appearance (comic wise as they were meant to be around since the Kree/Skrull War). The collection of characters itself is brilliant, and although I question why Black Bolts a member (he can't speak without destroying things) I find the rest quite interesting, as they are all intelligent character's, that fill all the social groups. This story they talk about the Sentry, basically acting as a stepping stone to the whole story, and although they don't really do much, I still liked seeing their first appearance, as they had brilliant moments after that.
As I said the way Bendis' introduced Sentry into the series was brilliant, and although he technically introduced him in the previous volume, this was his proper introduction, as it developed him much more, and explored the mystery of his characteristics much more. In this story Bendis made it so that no one remembered who the Sentry was, and that it appeared that he was nothing more than a comic book character to everyone. I haven't read any of the Sentry's solo series, only reading him in the Avenger series, and the odd series he's make a guest appearance but did I felt this was very interesting, as despite leaving mystery to the overall story, it gave a fresh slate to introduce the character, especially to newer readers of the character. I did however also like that this story featured Paul Jenkins, the creator of the Sentry as a character, who in the story tells the Sentry that he created him in a comic series. I loved this as it acknowledged that Jenkins created the character, but at the same time made it a brilliant opportunity to develop his background, using the fact that he was a comic character as a fantastic way of showing this. I also loved that there was a comic shown within the story that was supposedly drawn by Sal Buscema, and although this art probably was drawn by him, it was still a nice addition, as both Sal, and his late brother John Buscema are true legends.
Whilst Captain America, Iron Man, and S.H.I.E.L.D. went to find Sentry, the rest of the New Avengers were dealing with Wrecker, who went to a rich collector's house in Long Island to get his gear back. This was a brilliant sequence, as it didn't only give some brilliant action, it also showed that there are still criminals loose, and although getting the Sentry on board may seem like the top priority, rounding up the supervillain criminals is still as important. The fact that this time it was the Wrecker was also brilliant, as despite Wrecker having a history with the Avengers, it also showed the difference between old, and new, as he looked much more dated than the New Avengers, and kept talking about how he wrecked the Avengers (original Avengers), and this also kind of showed that he was stuck in the past. The main thing however I liked about this sequence was that it showed the New Avengers working as a team, and although they mostly made solo attempts to stop the Wrecker, I loved it when they eventually worked together.
As I said earlier this story featured a lot of supporting characters, as despite the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Inhumans went to try and help Robert find who he is. They're appearance itself wasn't actually as good as you'd think, as although they fight the Void in a exciting battle, it is Emma Frost who does the more interesting thing, as she goes into Robert's mind to try and help him find who he is, and regain his powers. I won't go into any more details as to avoid spoilers, but this was very interesting, and the sequence was very emotional, as you could easily tell that Robert was both worried and scared of the Void, as well as being confused over his past, which although emotional, was also very dramatic.
This book also featured The New Avengers: Most Wanted Files, which is fact file of all the supervillains that were released during Blackout. This was a nice we addition, as it gives some brilliant background info on these characters (some that I'm not too familiar with), which was nice, and the additional notes from certain New Avenger members was also a nice unique touch.
This was a brilliant story, and Bendis did a marvellous job of continuing his run, with this very emotional story that re-introduces Sentry, whilst also exploring his past. Besides being emotional, this was also a very interesting story, and also had some brilliant action sequences drawn by McNiven. This story also featured the Illuminati for the first time, and although they didn't do too much, it was nice to see their first appearance. I would highly recommend this story, as it was truly brilliant, and although Bendis's run on Avengers was inconsistent near the end, the star was amazing.
The next Avengers book I'll be reviewing will be New Avengers: Secrets and Lies.