As if jostling for position with last week’s issue of “New Avengers”, “Avengers” #30 features the most tenuous excuse for an “Avengers Vs. X-Men” tie-in yet as Brian Michael Bendis and Walt Simonson team up for an issue of Hawkeye and Spider-Woman having a fight about their relationship while punching Mr. Negative’s henchmen. No, I don’t see how that ties into “AvX.”
It seems as though Bendis is attempting to reassert the book’s regular plotlines as the big event starts to wind down. Fair enough. The thing is that he’s gone too far in that direction and forgotten to make it actually tie into anything. The crossover material here is stretched way past breaking point and hasn’t even been executed in an internally consistent way: the first couple of pages suggest that Mr. Negative is mobilizing because Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are occupied by the events of “AvX,” but not only are Hawkeye and Spider-Woman apparently sitting this one out, so are Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, who turn up later on in the issue. They’re just sitting around Avengers Tower with nothing to do.
In fairness to Bendis, the conversation between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman isn’t bad. He’s always been good at naturalistic back-and-forths, and this one plays up to his strengths with two confident participants and a lot of jokes. But the list of what’s bad is much longer. First is Mr. Negative’s opening monologue, which seems to last forever and makes no attempt to be visually interesting. Next is the fight scene, in which Hawkeye and Spider-Woman pummel masked bad guys for approximately two thirds of the book without any discernible plot happening. Last is the cliffhanger, which appears to have been conceived three-quarters through the writing process.
You can argue that the whole point of the comic is that it’s meant to be a cute Mr. and Mrs. Smith-style attempt to juxtapose the mundane relationship bickering against crazy superhero action, but it doesn’t really work on that level either, because the action isn’t actually crazy, it’s perfunctory and uninteresting. It’s not so much that the issue lacks a high concept, it just needed a few more drafts to bring it out.
It’s fair to say that Bendis and Simonson have produced better than this, and recently. “Avengers” #30 fails as a tie-in and on its own terms. There was a good idea at the core of the issue, but it’s been so poorly executed that it outright ruins the issue. Unless you’re a completest, you can safely avoid this one.