[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]
Spoilers Ahead. Forreal.
Marvel Comics is ushering in a new era for its brand, a return to form dubbed The Heroic Age. Under this new banner, the Marvel universe is (hopefully) going to realign itself and enter a period in which a status quo can be relied upon. And this is a good thing, giving the reader a chance to breathe after seven years of turmoil that included team breakups, civil wars, and alien invasions.
As any avid comics enthusiast knows, every event is accompanied by a slew of one-shots and tie-ins. Often, these are transparent attempts to earn a couple extra bucks by inserting tenuous connections between the major happening and an otherwise unrelated title. I can’t help but shake my head in disgust, disapproving of the theft of nerd-dollars that could be best spent elsewhere.
But sometimes, when the planets line up just right, tie-ins can be really fucking rad. And it looks like Jupiter and Neptune are in sync, because The New Avengers Finale is the book of the week.
Bendis’ script takes the reader through the direct aftermath of Siege; Norman Osborn has been exposed, the remaining villains are on the run, and Earth’s mightiest heroes have finally reunited. The remaining superheroes have to figure out their place in this brave new world, now that the all the major threats have been averted and the Superhuman Registration Act is null and void.
This setup provides the opportunity for bridges to be built across the chasms created over the last few years. Needless to say, this comic argues on the behalf of forgiveness, second chances and teamwork as the champions of justice come together to take down The Hood, Madame Masque and her father Count Nefaria. This crisis, coming after the siege of Asgard, doesn’t seem especially critical but it serves as an excellent excuse to see the Avengers assembling for the first time in years.
Iron Man? Captain America? Thor? Friends again?! Fuck yes.
The New Avengers Finale, like many of Marvel’s notable works of late, is penciled by the always astounding Bryan Hitch. Receiving some assistance from Stuart Immonen, the artist depicts the Avengers with a detail and vibrancy of which few are capable. Hitch really goes balls-to-the-wall, giving the reader all sorts of wonderful eye-candy to slobber over. For me, the visual highlights include a two-page spread of the newest Avengers lineup as well as a full splash page of Wolverine getting read to lay down the law.
But what convinced me that this had to be OL’s top-choice of the week were the book’s last eighteen pages. Nine splashes, spread across two pages each, take us through various flashbacks of the Avengers during the recent strife. Every single one of these images is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, the stuff that nerds fantasize about when they’re not dreaming of babes. If you need more convincing, just check out the list of artists brought on board specifically for these flashbacks:
David Finch, Danny Miki, Frank D’Armata, Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, Morry Hollowell, Olivier Coipel, John Dell, Mike Deodato Jr., Pimental, Dave Stewart, Leinil Yu, Mark Morales, Laura Martin, Bryan Hitch, Rain Beredo, Billy Tan, Matt Banning, Justin Ponsor
These pages remind the reader that the comics medium is rooted in illustration. While great storytelling can compensate for lackluster art, the greatest works always have pages that please the eye. This comic book gives us nine examples of this simple fact.
I purchased The New Avengers Finale with low expectations, anticipating that it would do nothing more than help me put off work for another fifteen minutes. But what I would up with was a real treat, the perfect transition out of the Dark Reign and into the Heroic Age. After reading this book, I have no doubt that good things are on the way for Marvel readers.