Civil War: New Avengers #22 Review

The Revolution has always thought that the New Avengers has been the weakest writing performance turned in by Brian Michael Bendis. I loved his work on Powers, Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man. Yet, I have been totally unimpressed with Bendis’ work on New Avengers. Combine that with the fact that I haven’t enjoyed a single comic book centered on the Civil War storyline other than one written by Mark Millar, and I’m highly skeptical if I’m going to enjoy New Avengers #22. I have a feeling that New Avengers #22 is going to approach the Registration Act from way over the top and is probably going to end up being a wasted issue. Let’s hope for the best and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Brain Michael Bendis
Penciler: Leinil Yu

Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 2.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue starts with Iron Man and Ms. Marvel paying a visit to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Iron Man asks Luke and Jessica if they are going to register pursuant to the new Registration Act that is going to pass at midnight. Jessica claims that she has no desire to use her powers or to be a super hero. That she just wants to raise her children. Tony says that the government wouldn’t force her to engage in super hero missions. Jessica doesn’t believe him.

Tony warns Luke that if he doesn’t sign by midnight, then S.H.I.E.L.D. will come to his home to take him away and arrest him. Luke asks Tony if it is Mississippi in the 1950’s. (What?) Tony says that Luke would be breaking the law. Luke retorts that slavery used to be a law. (Oh mi dios. Are we really going in this direction?)

Luke says he is going to do the right thing and that he is not going to register with the government. Iron Man and Ms. Marvel then leave. Jessica tells Luke that she is taking the kid and leaving for Canada. Luke says he has to stay. That this neighborhood is his world. That he isn’t going to buckle to the man. (Really? People still reference “the man?”) That Luke wants the people in his neighborhood to see what they do to him for standing up for what he believes is right. That he will teach the pro-registration side what is right if it take the rest of his life. (oooo-kay.)

Jessica then takes off for Toronto. (Great city. Fantastic place to go visit.) Luke then tells Jessica to not watch the news for the next week. He doesn’t want her to see what is going to happen to him.

Luke then talks to the locals in his neighborhood. He tells them he isn’t going to register. That he is going to sit in his home and not bother anyone. That “we’re supposed to be allowed to do that, right?” A little boy answers “Yes, sir.” (This is getting so ridiculously over the top.)

At the stroke of midnight, S.H.I.E.L.D. cape killers come knocking on Luke’s door. Luke tells them to go away. They refuse. So we are treated to a good old fashioned donnybrook. During the fight, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents begin to get the upper hand. Suddenly, an old neighbor blasts one of the cape killers with a shotgun. Then the rest of the neighbors start throwing bottles at the cape killers. At this point, Captain America, Daredevil and the Falcon make their dramatic appearance and start pounding on the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers.

Captain America’s team wins the battle and steals one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s vehicles and makes a quick getaway. Luke contacts Maria Hill over the vehicle’s communications system and tells her that “the revolution is coming.” (What revolution?)

We then cut to Jessica in Niagara Falls about to cross over the border into Canada. (I wonder if Homeland Security would stop her from leaving the country.) Jessica enters a convenience store and hears on the news that Captain America’s team of rebels escaped with Luke Cage and there whereabouts are unknown. Jessica smiles. End of issue. (Agradezca a dios que este cómico finalmente encima.)

Comments
The Good: Needless to say, I found New Avengers #22 to be a rather craptacular issue. However, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t have its bright spots. Bendis treated us to a rather entertaining fight between Luke and the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers. I like how Luke knows that he probably won’t win the fight, but is determined to go out in a blaze of glory.

The one page splash shot of Captain America, Daredevil and Falcon coming to the rescue was pretty cool. It is always great to see Captain America kicking some butt.

The Bad: Bendis turned in one ridiculous story in this issue. Unlike Millar, Bendis isn’t remotely trying to give even a half-hearted effort to show the pro-registration faction in equal light with the anti-registration faction. It is painfully obvious that the anti-registration faction are the unqualified good guys and that the pro-registration faction is just one step below being a member of the KKK or the Nazi party.

I am totally stunned that Bendis lacks the ability to portray the pro-registration side with any amount of depth. Making the two sides so completely black and white only serves to make his story far less interesting. When the line between wrong and right are blurred and both sides are shown as “doing the right thing” the story becomes much more delightfully complex and compelling. The reader then doesn’t know who to root for and who is the bad guy or the good guy. The reader can understand and empathize with both groups and then eventually make the tough decision of which side they support. That is close to what Millar is doing over in Civil War. However, Bendis fails to employ this formula and instead delivers such a one sided story that the reader is robbed of any complexities of an interesting storyline involving two sides that may both be on the right side.

Bendis’ story is so over the top. Comparing the Registration Act to slavery and to Segregation in the South is so ridiculous that it makes his story laughable. The scene where he tells the little boy that they still have the right to sit in their homes and not bother anyone is just too cheesy. Bendis tries to hard to portray Luke and the anti-registration with the side of the saints that it makes the story so overwhelmingly cheesy and over the top that the reader ends up laughing at the story instead of taking it seriously. Somehow, I don’t think that Bendis wanted to elicit laughs from the reader. But, that is what happens when you get too heavy handed and really go overboard on a story.

The problem is that the Registration Act only affects superheroes. It doesn’t target any group based on race, sex, national origin or religion. It only has the heroes register with the government. The government then promises to keep their identities secret. The heroes will all become S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and receive compensation and benefits as well as training. Super Heroes are vigilantes who have been breaking the law since the first mystery man appeared in the late 1930’s. They cause insane amounts of collateral damage that would probably bankrupt America and cause our insurance industry to go out of business. So, exactly how in the world does this compare to slavery in America or Segregation in the South? I have absolutely no idea. That is such a horrendous comparison designed only to elicit a strong response from the reader so that we will look at the pro-registration side as nothing more than dirty evil villains.

That just doesn’t work with me. That is the easy way out. It is far easier to make sweeping generalizations and paint one side as nothing more than base villains than to try and craft a complex story where both sides are “doing the right thing” and making it difficult for the reader to pick a side. Bendis takes the easy way rather than putting in the effort to create a story that is more enjoyable for the reader. Either that or Bendis simply can’t see beyond his own personal beliefs and agenda. I hope it is the former, because if it is the latter, then that is a sign of a weak writer. A truly talented writer is able to pick and choose any side of an argument or any character no matter their background and craft a compelling story.

Another problem with New Avengers #22 is that it is a totally wasted issue. It forwards no plotlines concerning the Avengers. And it forwards no plotlines concerning the Civil War storyline. This was a completely wasted issue on both fronts. We already knew that Luke had joined Captain America’s team. I didn’t really need an entire issue showing me how and why he joined. That could have been done in a couple of pages. For $3.00 I expect more than an issue where the writer mails it in and cranks out a totally pointless story.

I also am not a fan of Leinel Yu’s artwork. I found it to be too sketchy and rather unappealing. The comic looked too dark and muddy. The art made for an ugly looking comic.

Overall: I found New Avengers #22 to be a terrible read. Combine a weak and uninteresting storyline that advances no plotlines with artwork that is unimpressive and unattractive and you have the ingredients for a real stinker. This issue was certainly not worth the $3.00 I paid for it. Bendis continues to fail to impress me with his run on the New Avengers. Bendis is very talented. I hope that he can turn the corner on this comic book and finally deliver some entertaining and well crafted issues. At this point, I certainly wouldn’t recommend New Avengers.

3 Comments

  1. Once again, I agree with pretty much everything you wrote about “Civil War” in general, and New Avengers in particular.

    I wrote a review of the previous issue which touches upon a number of similar points. Here’s a link if you (or anyone else) wants to check it out:

    http://www.geocities.com/benherman_2000/writings/newavengers21.html

    Looking forward to future well thought out reviews from you on this blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. “It is pretty scary how you and I think almost the same way!”

    As the saying goes, great minds think alike. Either that, or fools seldom differ 🙂

    “Agradezca a dios que este cómico
    finalmente encima.”

    Eeeeek… I don’t speak Spanish. Sorry. I’m your typical monolingual American ignoramus. So, what does this mean? I put the phrase into the Google translater, and it responded with “Thank for God that this comedian finally raises.” Must be a too literal translation. What was the meaning that it is actually supposed to convey?

  3. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but Wizard Magazine sided against you guys. They named New Avengers #22 the single issue of the year. And I agree with them. Why just blindly fall in line because the government decided to change the rules? Superbeings have been unregistered for ages; and no all of a sudden things change at the stroke of midnight?

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