After "Dark Avengers" #3 went to a second printing, Marvel quoted my review of that issue, where I wrote, "This is Bendis at his best... a must read each month." That may have been true last issue, but not so here. Now it's more "This is Bendis writing a comic book that you can read each month if it ships on time... I mean, it's an okay read, not too bad, but it's not going to set the world on fire or anything." There's a quote that will move comics, don't you think?
"Dark Avengers" #4 wraps up the Morgana le Fay story with Doom and Norman Osborn traveling back in time to deal with her, while the rest of the Avengers (minus Sentry and Ares) continue to fight her and her forces in the present, which we've seen quite a bit of over the past couple of issues. Bendis and Deodato throw in some interesting scenes, like Ms. Marvel (Moonstone) taking out le Fay... again, or Hawkeye (Bullseye) dealing with a Spider-Man (Venom) gone berserk thanks to le Fay's magic.
However, most of the issue is very slow and uninteresting with pages devoted to necessary actions, but ones you didn't wish were necessary. Showing Doom use magic to restore his castle is needed since Latveria is depicted as a baron wasteland with Doom's castle gone, but four pages is just too much. Deodato draws it well, but the sequence is tedious and not a good use of space.
Bendis does hit a few great character moments, like Ms. Marvel flirting with Noh-Varr, while Ares chuckles to himself about it. Or, Osborn's hissy fit at being sucked into Doom's problems. The interaction between members of this new Avengers team is the strong point of this series and there never seems to be enough of it. Bendis must be doing something right if I'm always wanting more.
Mike Deodato's style continues to suit the subject matter, which makes sense since he drew most of these characters on "Thunderbolts." His dark use of shadows is very much in contrast to the bright look normally associated with the Avengers, giving this group a visual feel that's very fitting.
The use of layouts that cover two pages is an interesting approach to the book and sets it apart visually from other titles, allowing Deodato to use wider than normal panels and layouts not often seen. Best of all, the double page layouts are used sparingly, making them more effective when they are used.
"Dark Avengers" #4 has some great moments, like the final page or the confrontation between Hawkeye and Spider-Man, but they're few and far between in a slowly paced issue that reads more like a series of necessary actions to conclude this story than anything else. This issue feels like something that had to be done so we could all just move on. Hopefully, next issue will be a return to 'must read' status.
(Mike Deodato draws some pretty pictures in CBR's preview of this issue!)