New York is overrun by demons after the weakening of the mystical barriers between dimensions and, apparently, the Ancient One is behind it all? Color me surprised, but also impressed since this debut arc of the relaunched “New Avengers” continues to impress with lots of action as the team is in over its head, a fact that only Spider-Man seems aware of, while even the collective knowledge of Dr. Strange, Dr. Voodoo, and Daimon Hellstrom can’t figure out who is responsible for this incursion. This issue focuses on the action more than anything, creating a fun issue with lots of stunning visuals courtesy of Stuart Immonen and an ending that’s just as shocking as last issue’s.
With so much of the story so far focused on establishing what’s happening, an issue devoted almost entirely to the heroes responding to the demonic invasion makes for a nice breather and a chance to see the team work as a unit. Luke and Jessica fighting back-to-back is a fun moment with Jessica still getting accustomed to being a superhero again, while Luke ribs her about it. At the same time, the trio of mystically minded fellows try to figure it all out with Hellstrom spending most of his energies on criticizing and complaining. He’s right to criticize the two Sorcerers Supreme, but he clearly has no idea how to help and it’s entertaining to see him cover up for it by being a jerk.
Dr. Strange gets a spotlight when he has to enter the fray to keep things from getting worse and to save Ms. Marvel from her own heroic impulses. Bendis’ Strange is definitely more of a man of action than other interpretations as, in “New Avengers,” he’s never been afraid to dive in head first to deal with a problem. More than that, he doesn’t project the cold detachment that other writers imbue in him, giving him more of a personality that fits the life he leads, especially since he’s fallen from the rank of Sorcerer Supreme. His dynamic with Dr. Voodoo is oddly one where he is more dominant, playing off his experience and Voodoo’s newness to the position despite Voodoo outranking Strange now.
With so much of this issue based on action, Stuart Immonen carries the day through dynamic, gorgeous pages. He packs the pages with detail, using different angles, often from a tilted or off kilter perspective to help immerse the reader in what’s going on. His progression from panel to panel draws you in, creating a sense of space, while focusing on specific pieces of action. On one two-page layout, he uses a tier of panels across the middle of the pages to show Luke Cage overwhelmed by demons, moving in closer with every panel until the next tier begins with a large shot of the demons and Cage flying through the air, a “KRAKOOM” superimposed on the panel, creating a great effect.
Added to Immonen’s fantastic art are Laura Martin’s colors, which complement it very well. Most of the issue is bathed in a reddish orange glow because of the invasion, but that acts more as a filter on the lens with the true colors of the setting and characters coming through. That gives the impression of things not being right without overpowering the art and dragging down into a reddish orange mess.
Even though this story is built on events from the first “New Avengers” series, it stands alone well here with the premise clearly presented and explored through entertaining action and character interaction. Dr. Strange steps out as the point man for the heroes, setting up the surprise at the end of the issue. I can’t wait to see what happens next.