Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dark Avengers #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

Review by Chris Clow

I have to admit, this is a review that I didn't think I'd be writing.

For those of you who've spoken to me in the shop, you know that the DC Universe is where I prefer to hang my hat. I was very, very critical of Marvel recently for a number of reasons (which I still believe to be valid), whether it's jacking up their cover price to $3.99 without providing any extra story content, the questionable directions they've taken flagship characters (*COUGH!*SPIDER-MAN!*COUGH*), and the lackluster conclusion to Secret Invasion.

So, why did I decide to pick up Dark Avengers completely cold?

Even I have to admit that a team of supposed villains-turned-heroes, made up of doppelgangers of real heroes, led by (arguably) Marvel’s greatest villain, is an intriguing premise. I’m familiar enough with what happened in Secret Invasion and the setup for Dark Reign being a regular Invincible Iron Man reader, and surprisingly that was really all I needed to know. For his other faults, Bendis at least made the title (relatively) new reader friendly. But, before I can review the book well, I HAVE to get my misgivings toward Bendis out of the way. I notice certain things in every title of his that I’ve read.

Practically, every. Character. Sounds. The same. He changes his style of dialogue only minimally no matter who he’s writing, with the exception of Luke Cage and Spider-Man. He’s an exceptional web-head writer, but I noticed his lack of tonal dialogue shifts after reading the first seven issues of New Avengers for the first time. He also paces things about on-par with a Michael Bay-directed or Jon Peters-produced movie. There’s some kind of action beat practically every other page. Do I dislike action? No, but I also appreciate moments where character and purpose can shine through. And since I read a lot of superhero comics, I know action comes with the territory. But Bendis just tends to overdo it in my eyes.

Now, as for Dark Avengers, I actually enjoyed it. This is one title that he didn’t oversaturate with action. He showed us exactly who each and every character was (something I didn’t expect out of a Marvel first issue) and showed us how much of a powder keg this new “team” could potentially be.

Mike Deodato's artwork is awesome from top to bottom. His line is strong, and he has great anatomical consistency, with a little unique style thrown in for good measure. The coloring was, well, dark and appropriate for the tone (and title) of the book. No real qualms about the artwork (except that it might be better to see this guy drawing the Man of Steel :-P).

There are a few totally unexplained story points that irked me, though. Exactly what did Norman Osborn give to Mac Gargan to make him more “presentable?” What the hell is going on with Sentry? And why do certain characters agree to become facsimiles of their greatest adversaries? Wouldn’t it disgust these people? Isn’t the point of comic book rivalries to have palpable hatred between enemies? Why would Osborn even want anything remotely resembling Spider-Man on his team?

It goes a little against the tenets of Norman Osborn’s character, but I’ll actually recommend an Avengers title (the fourth ongoing, but who’s counting?) written by Brian Michael Bendis. Give it a shot and I’ll be happy to hear if you love it or hate it. Bottom line, it has me interested enough to stick around for #2.

Price: $3.99

A variant cover was released, but is no longer available through our store.


1 comment:

Christopher Burch said...

Hmm. Interesting review. I was interested, but not interested enough to pick it. Let me know how #2 is and I'll consider going back for it.