Marvel’s All New All Different direction for this comics post Secret Wars is clearly not a concept that Marvel created in order to attract readers like me. There is little to nothing that I found even remotely appealing by this All New All Different direction for the Marvel Universe. For the most part, the All New All Different direction seems like a New 52 rip-off. Actually, it seems more like Marvel saw the mess that the New 52 made with the DCU and decided that they could come up with something even more confusing and idiotic than the New 52. Wonderful.
To be sure, Marvel wanted to try and push diversity with the All New All Different direction of the Marvel Universe. And, in general, I applaud this decision. After all, I like the fact that my two boys will be able to see more Hispanic characters in comic books. However, the path that Marvel is taking with this diversity push comes across as clumsy, awkward and forced to the point that it appears to be nothing more than base pandering. That is always unfortunate and rarely makes for stories that are appealing to the general comic book readership.
So, here we are with the All New All Different New Avengers. I have to admit that the only two characters that even remotely appeal to me would be Hawkeye and Sunspot. The rest are a collection of D-list characters that generate little excitement from your average reader. Al Ewing as writer does little to boost my optimism for this title. Ewing is a writer who is average at best and unimpressive at worst. Gerardo Sandoval as the artist means that this issue will more than likely give me a headache. I was summarily unimpressed with New Avengers #1. It was a pedestrian read that veered into the territory of stupid at certain points. Still, Sunspot getting the prestigious position as the leader of the New Avengers interests me enough to come back for a second serving of New Avengers. Let’s hit this review!
Words: Al Ewing
Art: Gerardo Sandoval
Colors: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with The Maker (I cannot put into words how much I wish this character was trashed along with the rest of the useless Ultimate Universe.) performing surgery on someone. The Maker is not using any anesthesia or pain medicine on the person. (But, of course. Very subtle and not predictable at all. Does the Maker have a handlebar mustache that he can twirl during this scene?) Evidently, the Maker performs these surgeries on people to transform them into something better.
The Maker says that he found dead evil scientist Evald Scorpion. The Maker downloaded Evald into a new form. A perfect higher dimensional crystal: A Neohedron. (There is pseudo-science like what Warren Ellis gives us and then there is pseudo-science that sounds like the parents from a Charlie Brown cartoon.) A new form of life: The Life-Minus. (Is anyone at Marvel even trying anymore? Why doesn’t Ewing just call this the Anti-Life Equation?) The Maker says that he is creating life from the dead.
The Maker finishes his surgery. A weird creature rises from the operating table. The creature says that he is reborn and ready to serve the Maker. We pan back and see a bunch of green alien looking characters are all up in seats watching the surgery. They all begin to clap. The Maker thanks them for being so kind and applauding him. (I have no idea what is going on. It is as if all logic and intelligence have been suspended in this story.)
We cut to Paris where Squirrel Girl, Wiccan, Hulkling, White Tiger and Songbird are battling Evald and a couple of henchmen. We shift to the New Avengers headquarters on Avengers Island. (Very creative names.) Sunspot, POD and Dum Dum are all monitoring the battle in Paris. We see that Evald’s henchmen have Gamma power ups. They all then “Hulk” out and get bigger and stronger. Dum Dum tells Sunspot that he needs to pull his team out of Paris.
White Tiger and Squirrel Girl then attack and take down the henchmen. Evald then yells “Anti-Life” oh, wait, no he actually yells out “Life-Minus!” and blasts White Tiger and Squirrel Girl. We then see the two heroines standing their with Neohedron crystals as heads. They are now under Evald’s control. They are part of the Life-Minus. (At this point, I wish Darkseid would appear and just kill every single character in this issue.) Songbird then screams and creates a shield around the New Avengers to protect them from Evald’s Life-Minus blasts so that they don’t end up with crystals for heads, too.
We shift to the Maker watching the fight in Paris from his secret evil lair that he recently purchased from Skeletor. Suddenly, all the lights go out and a six-eyed shadowy creature appears behind the Maker. The Maker replies “Ah, visitors.” The creature asks why the Maker called it from the dark. The Maker replies “Honestly? Just to see if I could.” (Absolutely nothing makes sense. We are getting a random collection of scenes. And our main villain is now doing stuff just for shits and giggles.)
The Makers says that they are in a new universe. (No, not the New Universe.) A reborn universe. The Maker said that he wanted “Super-scientific proof” (Is that an actual term scientists use these days?) that universes existed before “ours.” Maybe better universes. That the Maker wanted to map those older universes. The Maker says that he should have expected an old ghost to find him.
The shadowy creature responds that he is Mor-I-Dun of the Fifth Cosmos. The Dark Cosmos. Space and time of deep magic. (It is as if Ewing put words in a blender and then poured them into this dialogue.) Mor-I-Dun says that this is the Eight Cosmos. Mor-I-Dun says “I…would stay.” One of the Maker’s henchmen says that they cannot turn the lights back on.
We hop back to Paris where Songbird is still holding off Evald with her force shield bubble. We zip to Avengers Island where Sunspot communicates to all of his AIM scientists “This is the Supreme Leader of AIM, speaking, and believe me, I’m in a supreme mood.” (What? That doesn’t even make sense.) Sunspot says that any AIM scientists near him already as the data. (What data? How do all the scientists around him already have this data? Magic? Sloppy writing? Just forcing plot lines forward without any thinking?) Sunspot says that he wants “advanced ideas” (Not just regular ideas! Not just good ideas! Not just innovative ideas! Not just creative ideas! No! He demands ADVANCED ideas only!! Get it?) Sunspot says that he wants “Avengers ideas.” (Okay, now that just doesn’t make any sense at all. I’ll give the advanced idea as a stupid juvenile play on words with AIM. But this one? C’mon.)
Sunspot says that the first AIM scientist to come up with an idea gets a Lexus. (Ewwww. A Lexus? Boring. Is Sunspot trying to punish his scientists for coming up with a good idea?) Sunspot contacts Dr. Max Brashear and Dr. Toni Ho. (Because science isn’t just for white guys! Very subtle. I get it. Also, I totally understand that “Ho” is a common Korean surname, but this is still an American comic book primarily targeting American readers. And in our culture “Ho” is a word for a prostitute and a derogatory word for a woman. So maybe a different Korean surname would have been a smarter idea?)
An AIM scientist (Female scientist. I get it already. I get it.) says that since Songbird’s shield can block Evald’s ray that means the ray has a vibrational component. Some kind of higher dimensional frequency. And if these are souls of the dead then Power Man could find that frequency since Power Man can see ghosts. Sunspot loves the idea and punishes the AIM scientists by giving her a Lexus.
This information is then transmitted to Wiccan who uses his telepathy to pass it on to Power Man and Songbird. Power Man figures out the frequency of the Life-Minus ray and Wiccan transfers that to Songbird. Songbird then screams that frequency. The result is that all the innocent people including White Tiger and Squirrel Girl are reverted back to normal. But, the bad guys and Evald have their crystal heads explode and die. (Wait, so why didn’t White Tiger and Squirrel Girl just have their crystal heads explode and die like everyone else?)
We cut back to Avengers Island where Sunspot celebrates their victory in Paris. Sunspot yells out “Ten minute dance party!” (What?) Sunspot then yells “Champagne robot–Take charge!” A random hovering robot orders more champagne (More champagne? Didn’t Sunspot just order the champagne right now? When did they already have champagne?) and suddenly a tray of champagne appears in the next panel. (This entire scene is bizarre and feels like an Saturday Night Live skit.)
Dum Dum then says “Good work” to Sunspot. Hawkeye then says “Seconded. You guys want to be the New Avengers? You earned the name today?” (That fast?) Sunspot then welcomes Hawkeye to the team and tells Hawkeye that he has not seen anything yet.
We shift to the Maker’s evil lair. Suddenly, the lights come back on. The Mor-I-Dun has disappeared. We see a fiery pentagram and smoke on the floor where Mor-I-Dun had stood. The Maker says that from a scientific standpoint that this was wildly successful. The Maker orders for the Neochodron’s clone body to be retrieved. The Maker says that since Mor-I-Dun vanished after the New Avengers extinguished the Life-Minus frequency that it probably went back to the deep past. The Maker says “Besides, where else would it go?”
We cut to outside of the Maker’s evil lair and see Mor-I-Dun’s glowing eyes peering out from the fog. End of issue.
The Good: New Avengers #2 is not a good issue. Having said that, there are some positive aspects to this issue. To be sure, New Avengers #2 is a well paced read. This is certainly not a slow story at all. Al Ewing hits the gas pedal with the start of this issue and pushes the story forward with a clear purpose and direction in mind. I have to compliment Ewing for avoiding engaging in pointless decompression in order to pad out a thin story over an unnecessary number of issue.
Ewing also gives just enough action to keep New Avengers #2 from being a dull read. While this issue definitely has more than its fair share of defects one thing that I would not call this issue is boring. This is not a dull or dry story at all. This issue has enough action in it to keep your average reader satisfied.
I did enjoy getting some more information about this post Secret Wars Marvel universe. It is obvious that we are not dealing with a reboot of any type. This new universe does not invalidate and completely replace the regular 616 Universe. This is not at all like what the New 52 did to the DCU. Yes, this is a “new” universe in the sense that it is new to the Maker who is coming over from the Ultimate Universe. Also, the ANAD Marvel Universe is clearly the 616 Universe with various alternate realities smashed into the 616 Universe. Ewing references that this has happened before as we are now on the 8th version of the Marvel Universe. All of this does nothing to dispel my feelings that the ANAD Marvel Universe is just like the New 52 in that Marvel’s editorial staff have no set internal agreed upon definition or structure for the ANAD Marvel Universe.
Gerardo Sandoval’s artwork is average. My favorite aspect of Sandoval’s art are his action scenes. Why? Simple. Action lines! This is a technique that is employed in Japanese manga and I have always been a fan of that technique. It adds plenty of kinetic energy to a fight scene and gets the reader pumped up for the brawl. Sandoval is able to use the action lines in this issue in order to give the big fight scene a proper feeling of motion and action.
The Bad: I am not going to mince words about New Avengers #2. This issue is the product of bad writing. And I am not just talking about disliking the overall direction and mission statement of the All New All Different direction of the Marvel Universe. And I am not just talking about the unimpressive collection of misfit toys that constitutes the roster for this version of the New Avengers. I am talking about bad writing on a technical level.
The basic mechanics of Ewing’s writing is poor. New Avengers #2 lacks any intelligence. I am not expecting Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis with every single comic book. That the type of “intelligence” that I am talking about. What I mean is that Ewing’s writing lack intelligence in that the story comes across as if zero logic was put into the narrative structure of this world that Ewing has created. An author is allowed plenty of creative license when writing a world with either Sci Fi, Supernatural or Fantasy elements. However, within that fantastical setting there must be inherent rules of logic that apply. Ewing fails to do that with New Avengers #2.
Things happen in this issue with little to no explanation or logic at all. Ewing does this because he simply wants to move his plot beats along and he does not have the patience or skill to properly explain why certain things happen and why one action leads to another. It is obvious that Ewing had a clear destination in mind with this issue. It is also obvious that Ewing had all the major plot beats plotted out that served as the skeleton for this story. However that is all that Ewing delivered with New Avengers #2. A skeleton of a story. The story is lacking any necessary connective tissue that binds and ties the various plot beats together into one fleshed out and well developed story.
Instead, New Avengers presents the reader with a thin and shallow read. Everything feels slapped together off the cuff and with little effort to deliver a well crafted and detailed story. This issue read more like a rough draft than a finished product. The lack of effort and attention to detail prevents the reader from ever becoming immersed into the world that Ewing presents in this issue.
The lack of intelligence in Ewing’s writing is also found in his truly awful psudeo-science that he delivers in this issue. I am not expecting every writer to try and hit Warren Ellis level of pseudo-science in their stories. However, I am expecting something slightly more intelligent and nuanced than what my eight-year old son would come up with. Ewing’s pseudo-science is so childlike and cursory in its structure that it appears that he is not even trying to explain what is going on in this issue. Ewing might as well simply say “Presto! Magic!” when explaining the science behind what is going on in this issue.
There are so many moments in New Avengers #2 where the reader wonders out loud why something just happened. The answer that this is a super hero comics and don’t worry about it is simply not sufficient. For reader’s to care about a writer’s world and to become invested in the story there must be some internal logic to how things operate in this setting. When story beats appear to happen at random and without a clear purpose then the reader will stop to care about the story. A good example of these head scratching moments was why Songbird’s sonic blast caused Evald’s crystal head to explode and to kill him while it simply reverted White Tiger and Squirrel Girl back to normal. I am sure there could have been an easy explanation. This is just one example. There were numerous moments like this through the entire issue.
Ewing’s dialogue is equally unimpressive. There are numerous flaws with the dialogue. First, Ewing gets way too cute with the dialogue and the banter. It is almost Bendis-level in how every character has to have cutesy dialogue. The result is that the banter quickly becomes stale and not funny. And all the character’s external voices all blend together. When the characters are not all employing the same “zany” silly external voice all we get is a simple generic external voice. Neither is appealing over the course of an entire issue.
The character work is also completely lacking in New Avengers #2. Ewing makes zero effort to flesh out a single character in this issue. The characters are mere puppets that lifelessly proceed through the scenes and dutifully recite their lines. None of the characters have anything that would be confused with an actual well developed personality. Sunspot is the only character that gets something close to an actual personality. Unfortunately, it is an uncreative and shallow annoying personality. But, at least that separated him from the rest of the drones that make up the roster of characters in this issue.
The Maker is just awful. Of course, the same wacky silly external voice that all the New Avengers get is also given to the Maker. Ewing does the Maker no favors by writing him in the most cartoonishly over-the-top style that prevents the reader from ever taking the Maker seriously. It is tough to pull the reader into a story when the reader never views the villain as anything more than a joke. The Maker shifts from being a smarmy idiot to being an over-the-top stereotypical Dick Dastardly villain. Ewing’s the Maker is so cheesy. The result is that, by the end of this issue, the Maker becomes more of a joke than an actual threat. I am not sure Ewing is playing for laughs with the Maker or wants him to be a joke villain but that is certainly how the character comes across in New Avengers #2.
Mor-I-Dun is about as bland and generic as possible. You have seen this type of monster character before and in far more intelligent and interesting stories. Ewing does absolutely nothing to get the reader excited or interested in this “mysterious” character.
The result is that the reader does not get interested or invested in any of the characters in this issue. They are all automatons that fail to engage the reader. Marvel has handicapped Ewing my giving him a roster of D-list characters. I understand and sympathize with the tough challenge that Ewing faces with this roster. However, it is still up to Ewing to try and flesh out these characters and sell them to the reader. Ewing must present interesting and diverse personalities for each character in order to give the reader a reason to care about these characters that would normally be dismissed as “losers.”
The lack of any character work and the abysmal dialogue combine to create zero chemistry between the members of the New Avengers. It is both awkward and dull to see all of these characters operating together on the same team. Chemistry between the characters is a vital aspect of any team title. It is part of what pulls the reader into the story and gets them invested in the characters. That is absolutely missing with New Avengers #2.
All right, now that we have directed the technical flaws with New Avengers #2, let’s turn to the roster for the All New All Different New Avengers. The roster for this team is composed of various C-list and D-list characters. The highest profile character in this title would be the token white straight guy, Hawkeye, who is a B-list character. It is tough to sell an Avengers team with zero A-list characters and only one B-list character. This New Avengers roster reminds me of the old Detroit Justice League. The fact is that an Avengers team should be special and should feature A-list talent.
Unfortunately, Marvel has watered down the Avengers franchise to the point where being an Avengers means absolutely nothing. And it is now common to see irrelevant and no-name characters being members of the Avengers. This direction to dilute the specialness of the Avengers franchise coupled with such a weak roster of characters will do nothing but produce niche sales numbers. Sure, New Avengers will pop a nice debut number. But, that will rapidly plummet and settle down to a less than impressive sales number that the other niche super hero titles post each month. If Marvel’s goal is to accept unimpressive niche sales numbers from their super hero comics and rely on Star Wars to power them to sales victories over DC each month then they are well on their way to doing that.
Ewing gives a feeble effort at the very end of New Avengers to try and get this collection of D-list characters over with the reader. Ewing has Hawkeye give the rub to these no-name characters by over-eagerly proclaiming them more than worthy of the mantle of the New Avengers. It was a weak attempt and one that came across forced and simply not genuine at all. The result is that this attempt fails with the reader and makes the reader even more suspicious of this roster. I fully acknowledge that Marvel has severely handicapped Ewing with this roster of characters. And I also understand that it will be a tough task for Ewing to get these characters over with mainstream comic book readers. However, Ewing can do much better than what he did in New Avengers #2 to get these characters over.
Sandoval’s artwork is sloppy at points in this issue. The Facial expressions are cartoonishly exaggerated at times. Particularly power was Sandoval’s version of Power Man. I did not recognize him at first. In all of his prior appearances, Power Man had a small cropped afro and looked Dominican. In New Avengers #2, Power Man has straight hair and appears generically Hispanic.
Overall: New Avengers #2 is a poorly written read. The All New All Different direction of the Marvel Universe is a plan that appears flawed to me. However, that does not mean that quality writing cannot overcome what is initially a stupid idea by Marvel’s editorial staff. Unfortunately, Ewing fails to deliver anything that would be confused with quality writing. I have no idea who New Avengers #2 would appeal to other than diehard fans of the niche characters that appear in this issue.