Another month, another AvX tie-in that nervously hovers on the periphery of the event and isn’t quite sure what to do with itself. This time, it’s “New Avengers” #30 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, which takes place some time after the events of “Avengers Vs. X-Men” #11.
In fairness to the creative team, this isn’t merely an expanded scene from the main series, and there is a plot worth speaking of. To some degree there’s a story as well. The issue’s conceit sees a group of Avengers transporting the recently-captured Emma Frost to prison, whereupon they are attacked by a specific group of people with a reason to be angry. The story isn’t about “AvX,” though — it’s about a certain Avenger’s decision to leave the team.
It comes across as an uneasy balance. The tie-in issues of “New Avengers” released over the last few months have all been so heavily rooted in “AvX” mythology that this subplot seems to spring into the foreground out of nowhere, but there is a certain amount of logic to it happening now, after such world-changing events as depicted in the main series. Further than that, in many ways, it’s the logical culmination of a story Bendis began years and years ago.
Bendis’ grasp of character is often criticized, but aside from Emma Frost (who bears little resemblance to any other version of the character) the main cast of this issue is composed of characters he’s has had a firm hand in developing over the last 10 years and the interplay between them is stronger for it. The villains are less well-developed and show little sign of motivation, character or even much of a plan beyond sheer numbers. It’s not exactly engaging on that level, but it’s at least consistent with Bendis’ usual approach.
Mike Deodato’s artwork is what truly sells this extended action scene as something worth reading. From high-octane action to more delicate montage sequences, Deodato manages to sell whatever we’re looking at. He does his best with the pacing, but even with the best will in the world, there’s no way to make 15 pages of action sequence balance out correctly — doubly so, when there’s as much dialogue as there is.
Still, judged as an issue of “New Avengers” rather than an installment of crossover, it does work, and it’s going to have consequences that will presumably be explored sooner rather than later. There’s enough “AvX” content to justify the banner, but at this point it’s back to doing its own stories — and to be honest, it’s all the better for it.