Friday, May 11, 2012

GN Review -- Avengers Disassembled / Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch

After reading Avengers vs. X-Men #0, I was astounded at how good the Scarlet Witch's tale was, and the urge to understand what had led her to that point became paramount.  I did a little searching, and decided a good point to start reading up about her recent history was Avengers Disassembled.

What unfolds is essentially the worst day ever in the history of any superhero team I've yet read.  Tony Stark, while at the U.N., suddenly is overcome with a sensation of drunkenness and threatens the Latverian ambassador, embarrassing the U.S. and causing him to have to step down.  The deceased Jack of Hearts shows up at Avengers Mansion briefly, then explodes--taking out a good portion of the grounds and killing Ant Man.  Then Vision arrives in a Quinjet--and crashes it into the already mounting wreckage.  She-Hulk freaks out in response, and starts to lose herself in her rage, tearing Vision apart before she can be put down.  And then there's a sudden invasion of Kree aliens, who start shooting at the heroes at the Mansion and the surrounding area and cause the death of Hawkeye before mysteriously disappearing.  All in the span of probably a couple of hours.

A visit from Dr. Strange reveals why so many bad things have been happening to them.  The Scarlet Witch, who at one time had had "children" she essentially created out of thin air, blamed the Avengers for their disappearance, and with the nature of her powers having driven her gradually more insane, she was manifesting some of their worst fears to destroy them.  Captain America tries to explain the situation to Wanda, but she doesn't want to hear it and continues to lash out with her powers.  With Strange's help, they are able to stop her, and she is taken away by her father Magneto, who vows to help her recover in any way he can.

Iron Man has one final bit of bad news, however.  The fallout from his spontaneous drunken episode at the U.N. has caused massive PR and financial crises in his company.  The foundation that he made to support the Avengers can no longer support them, and with the government pulling out any backing due to the embarrassment of the U.N. incident, they simply can no longer afford to exist as a team.  The teammates are forced therefore to disband, and they share recollections of some of their favorite moments from the Avengers history before going their separate ways.

Wow.  The Scarlet Witch is a lot like Eric Cartman.  Do not piss her off, ever.

I've known of the fact that she's supposed to be this uber-powerful member of the Avengers, having probably gleaned it from other stories and what I've observed or heard about from the fallout of House of M, which I also still have yet to read.  But since this story occurs before that one, I'm figuratively seeing her sheer power and imbalance through a mostly unadulterated and clear lens.  She seems mostly unaware that she's even doing the things she's inflicted upon the Avengers, which is extra cause for concern.  She can summon world-ending scenarios without even having to concentrate on them.

It seems the crux of all Wanda's trials and tribulations stems from a very simple but powerful desire--the desire for motherhood and children--transposed against the heartbreaking reality that she is not able to do so.  This desire caused her to use her powers--knowingly or not, I don't know--to create "children" that were, eventually, taken away from her.  Seeing her teammates as responsible, her resentment grew over time, and, with her sanity dwindling, she began to lash out at them without even fully realizing it.

So, it's hard not to pity her, too.

The action of the story is undeniably cataclysmic.  When I have a bad day, that's a problem already.  When my entire family or co-workers have a collective bad day, it's usually tragic.  This is super-powered tragedy, magnified on a cosmic scale and then given a shot of tragedy steroids.  The Avengers' home is totaled.  Several of their friends are killed, one directly by one of their own.  They lose the funding and government support they'd enjoyed until now.  And it was all orchestrated by one of their closest teammates.  It's hard not to walk away from this arc without having had to pick your jaw up off the floor several times, and I salute Bendis for his storytelling acumen here.

Artistically, I can't help but salute David Finch's work.  His characters are detailed, expressive, and work well for the genre and medium.  The action is dynamic, intense, and keeps you turning the page to see what happens next.  The round robin of art done by various artists in the finale also make for a noteworthy collection of styles and colors as the team's most memorable moments are revealed, highlighting how the looks and makeup of the team has changed over the years.

Overall, this is a compelling read, and definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the recent history and current goings-on in the world of the Avengers, and much of the Marvel Universe.  The storytelling is splendid, the artwork is great, and it's simply a pivotal story for a character who seems set to once again play a pivotal role in the upcoming events.  Highly recommended.

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