New Avengers #34

"New Avengers" #34 is Brian Michael Bendis' swansong on the series and concept he shepherded into prominence for Marvel Comics. Although this New Avengers squad is less star-studded than some of Bendis' other Avengers teams, there is simply no denying this team and this title are all Bendis. He's already bid adieu from the other "Avengers" title, so his last (barring "Age of Ultron") Avengers bit of this era is the final issue of Luke Cage-led "New Avengers."

It's only appropriate then, that Bendis picks up all the toys, cleans them up and puts them back in the toybox before leaving the room and turning off the light. In his time with the "New Avengers" title, Bendis has given Cage a new lease on life, intertwined the legacy of the Sorcerer Supreme with the destiny of the Avengers and inserted one-time opponent Victoria Hand into the team's affairs. Bendis made the readers care about these fringe players and even made them worthy of Avengers lore. This issue gives Bendis a chance to revisit all of those accomplishments and Bendis gets to give every last one of those characters a goodbye wave, à la Dorothy at the end of "Wizard of Oz." In doing so, Bendis chooses a new Sorcerer Supreme, gives Stephen Strange a chance to be a badass and even dangles a thread regarding Luke Cage's future.

The final confrontation that Bendis writes into "New Avengers" plays marvelously into the jam sequence where everyone just shuts up and has fun drawing what Bendis gives them. Jam artists Chuck BB, Farel Dalrymple, Ming Doyle, Lucy Knisley, Becky Cloonan and Yves Bigerel don't substantially advance the plot, but they certainly have fun adding details to the story. Of course the bulk of the artwork in this issue is from Mike Deodato, Bendis' most frequent collaborator on the Avengers brand. Deodato is given an action-packed, magic-focused story to work with and he does a nice job delivering just that. The backgrounds are mostly inconsequential and largely non-existent, but Deodato is given room to energize the characters. This plays to Deodato's strengths which colorist Rain Beredo enhances quite well.

All in all, this is a rather mundane conclusion, but a satisfying one. There is no mistaking this issue of the "Greatest Avengers Story Ever!" but this issue is certainly going to be one fans look back to and re-read as time marches on. The final part of a four-part story, this issue is a nice sample of everything Bendis did to enhance certain elements of the Marvel Universe to be worthy of Avengers inclusion.

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