Saturday, April 14, 2012

Comic Review -- New Avengers #24 / Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Will Conrad, Rain Beredo

Okay, the event is here, I get it.  Now please get rid of the banner.  Is this what I get to look forward to with all the AvX tie-ins?

I like the composition of this cover, with Wolverine in the middle of a fighting Cyclops and Captain America.  Where he's going to ultimately fall remains in question, and is of keen interest to many readers of this event.  Cyke's head seems a little over-large, even with the visor, but overall the illustration flows pretty nicely and keeps things intense and interesting.  Not bad.  My only complaint is that, given the story inside, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones should have been featured on it.

In the lead-up to the events portrayed in AvX #1, there are problems aplenty at Avengers Mansion.  Protesters outside seem to have issues with the heroes' very existence, while Luke Cage is panic-stricken and upset that Jessica Jones has taken their baby and disappeared in response to a threat Norman Osborne has made against their child.  Jessica re-emerges, much to Cage's relief, but tells him that she can't live such a dangerous lifestyle, and that their child doesn't belong at the Avengers Mansion.  Cage is torn between his desire to have a family and to be an Avenger, and when Captain America assembles the team to tell them about the impending approach of the Phoenix Force, he must make a decision.  Electing to stand with his Avengers teammates in the face of the current crisis, he kisses his daughter good-bye, and Jessica leaves the mansion.  As the Avengers jump from the Helicarrier to engage the X-Men in the present, the focus is on Cage, who has sacrificed his ability to be with his family to fight against this crisis.

I know that there's no real new action that really advances the AvX plot, but I actually really liked this facet of the story.  What we have is a relatively minor crisis--Luke and Jessica's domestic dilemma--juxtaposed against the bigger, more urgent crisis of the Phoenix Force coming to Earth.  It's a poignant reminder that there's always more to a story or conflict than simply the immediate, bigger crisis, and it lends depth to Cage as he chooses superheroism over family life.

It's obviously a painful sacrifice, and makes you wonder what other crises or situations are going on in everyone else's private lives, be they Avengers or X-Men, as they participate in this macro-crisis.  It also makes you wonder whether or not Cage's little speech about putting your own house in order before trying to solve the problems of the world applies to his current situation.  It was a good speech, and a very relevant outlook to the situation with the protesters, but it seemed to have to give way to larger concerns. The current situation would seem to demonstrate the opposite, that there are some macro-crises that simply must be addressed before the smaller ones can be fixed.

Artistically, everything looks excellent.  The intimate heart-to-heart scenes between Luke and Jessica convey a lot of emotion from each character, and the larger scenes with the other heroes look spot-on.  The resignation and pain on Cage's face as he kisses his daughter goodbye are plain, as is the steadfast resolve he wears as he hurtles down to Utopia to help take Cyclops and the X-Men down.  Wonderful work here.

Overall, this isn't a necessary part to the larger story, but I think it will reward those who read it, giving a little more depth to what could easily be described as a season-long cage-fest match-up between the teams.  I'm eager to see where more of the larger story goes, of course, but I think this is a good piece that still falls in the "round 1" part of the story.  Highly recommended.

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