Avengers #11 Review
- Published on Tuesday, 05 April 2011 16:00
- Written by Rokk
- Hits: 1769
Bendis' Avengers continues to be a total miss here at The Revolution. This title has been plagued by shallow stories, decompression and a lack of good character work. Having said that, I decided to take a dip back into this title because of the current "cosmic" storyline. I love Jim Starlin's work and Infinity Gauntlet remains one of my all time favorite Marvel big events. Since, Bendis is trotting out the Infinity Gems with this current story arc I figured it was time to sample this title once again. Does Avengers #11 deliver a quality read for your money? Let's find out.
Writer: Brian Bendis
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
Inks: Klaus Jansen
Colors: Dean White
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The Hood as three Infinity Gems: Space, Power and Reality. The Avengers have one Infinity Gem. There are six total Infinity Gems. The Avengers brawl with the Hood as the Watcher narrates the story. During the battle, the Avengers gain control of the Power Gem. The Hood then teleports away from the scene. The score is now the Hood: 2 Infinity Gems. The Avengers: 2 Infinity Gems.
The Hood appears in the location where Professor X hid the Mind Infinity Gem. The Hood then battles Professor X and a huge team X-Men and Avengers. The Hood defeats them and leaves with the Mind Gem. Score is now: the Hood: 3 Infinity Gems. The Avengers: 2 Infinity Gems.
The Hood then teleports away to the location of the final Infinity Gem that was hidden by Dr. Strange. There the Hood sees Thanos standing there with the final Infinity Gem in his hand. End of issue.
The Good: I am not the biggest John Romita, Jr. fan. I will openly admit that. However, there is no doubt that Romita is an immensely talented artist. I have certainly enjoyed his work in the past. I definitely like what Romita brings to the table over on Kick-Ass. However, Romita's style of art is not what I would pick to fit an A-list team title like the Avengers that operates on a grand scale and deals with cosmic level threats.
Having said that, Romita's energetic art manages to inject Bendis' limp script with some much needed intensity in order to give the scenes in this issue at least some dynamic feel to them. Some of the splash shots in this issue absolutely crackle with energy. They are quite vivid and immediately grab the reader's attention.
I must admit that it is great to see Tony, Steve and Thor operating together. I love seeing the big three together again. This is how the Avengers should be. It just feels right.
The Bad: Avengers #11 is the very definition of why MFA professors continually preach to students trying to learn their craft the mantra "Show. Don't tell." Bendis chooses to drown the reader in an tidal wave of narration by telling the reader everything rather than simply showing us. Much of what Bendis tells us about the various characters is absolutely nothing new or important. It is nothing more than generic rundowns of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Red Hulk, etc.
It would have been far more effective, entertaining and powerful to show the reader the various personality traits and emotions of the characters based on their actions during the fight as well as through dialogue. It would also have given the action scene more of a sense of urgency and also increased the intensity of the battling. Instead, by delivering the action scene in such a passive manner through massive amounts of running narration the battle is robbed of much of its impact on the reader.
This magnifies Bendis' weakness of not being able to offer up fast paced action packed stories with a large scope. That is just not Bendis' style. There is a lot of posing and charging into battle, but very little of the actual fighting. Most of the action takes place off panel. The fight scenes simply are not well choreographed. Also, there is little to no psychology in the fight scenes.
What compounds the problem with this issue, and the never ending narration that overwhelms the reader, is that Bendis uses the Watcher as the narrator. Basically, Bendis gives us a story where an omniscient narrator tells us everything as we move from page to page. This is by far the most boring, uninteresting and uncreative manner to tell a story regardless of the format. Short story, novel or comic book. Omniscient narrators often lead to narrative merge problems, they tend to bore readers and the tend to foster "show, don't tell" style stories.
Once again, the character work is poor. The characters are either one-dimensional takes on the basic stereotype of the specific character. The dialogue is weak. Bendis continues to make all of his character sound exactly alike. All of the characters talk with the same Bendis Speak styled dialogue that is more appropriate for a TV sitcom.
The total lack of character work only serves to further emphasis the rather generic feeling of this story arc involving the Hood and the Infinity Gems. When an author gives characters dialogue that is totally out of character is only serves to pull the reader back out of the story.
The bizarre forcing of Bendis Speak into any character's dialogue regardless of the situation continues to hurt Bendis' stories. It is obviously forced and does not fit either with the character saying the dialogue nor the situation the character is in. The result is that the oddly shoe-horned Bendis Speak breaks the flow of the story and causes the treader to be pulled out of the story.
The other problem with ill-placed Bendis Speak is that it cuts against the grain of the mood and tone of the scene. An example of this would be when Thor and Hulk are battling The Hood. Thor is trying to negotiate with The Hood. Thor says "I say to you this..." The Hood interjects "I say to you this?" Thor replies "It is how I speak." The Hood then gives his answer. This is how Bendis Speak can ruin a scene.
This completely forced "humor" in an otherwise extremely serious scene does not work with either character. It also serves to pull the reader completely out of the story. Humor is important to any story. And humor can help keep even a serious story from being too overly somber.
However, timing is absolutely everything with humor. Without the proper place and time for the humor, the author can be signaling to the reader that the author does not take the story seriously. And if the reader feels that the author does not take the scene or story seriously then neither will the reader. That is exactly what happens in this moment.
Bendis is building up this overly "dramatic" conflict between the Hood and the Avengers with the Watcher narrating it all. And then he tosses out this completely unnecessary and totally odd "Bwa-ha-ha" gag lines designed to play for laughs like this was a TV sitcom. I could almost hear the laugh track fire up right when I read that line.
This move only serves to break the mood and flow of the story and give the reader the impression that the author does not genuinely take this moment seriously. Therefore, the reader is pulled out of the story and no longer takes the scene seriously. This ends up robbing the scene and any impact or importance that it may have otherwise had.
The story itself is a rather bland and generic "cosmic" story. The problem is that if readers want to enjoy a truly well crafted cosmic story then they can sample anything that DnA have done for Marvel over the course of the past five years. DnA's current cosmic title, The Annihilators, offers the reader a far superior return on their money than Bendis' feeble effort at a cosmic tale on this title.
As an author, Bendis is completely out of his element with this cosmic story. And it shows. This story is shallow and generic. There is no depth or creativity at all to the story. There is nothing that pulls at the reader's mind or stretches our imagination. Take a look at a cosmic story written by the old masters of the genre like Jack Kirby or Jim Starlin. Take a look at cosmic stories written by current masters like Grant Morrison and Jonathon Hickman. There is such wonderful richness and depth to the story. They are truly complex tales full of philosophical and mythical questions and journeys.
Compare the slim offering Bendis gives us with this issue with the cosmic tales that Jonathan Hickman is currently delivering on S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fantastic Four and the cosmic tales that DnA have been cranking out for Marvel. The difference in quality of story, depth, complexity, nuances and mind bending themes is obvious and striking.
To be fair to Bendis, part of the continued failing of Avengers as a title is the fault of Marvel's editorial staff. Just because a writer is talented does not mean that they can write any type of title. To be sure, Bendis is talented. But, his talents thrive on titles starring solo characters and dealing with more reality based street level stories. Not team titles dealing with cosmic themes. A good editorial staff hides a writer's weaknesses instead of highlighting their flaws by shining a spotlight on them. Marvel has done Bendis no favors by placing him on a title like Avengers.
Overall: Avengers #11 is a thin and shallow read that simply does not offer up enough content or entertainment value in order to justify the $4.00 price of admission. I would not recommend wasting your hard earned money for this issue. Fans of Marvel's cosmic stories certainly will not be impressed with what Bendis offers in this issue. There are so many well written titles (and many for a cheaper cover price) that are much more deserving of your support than Bendis' Avengers.