New Avengers #51

If you love issues of "New Avengers" where all the team does is sit around and talk, then you're in for a special treat this month. Although split between the team and Dr. Strange's quest to find the new Sorcerer Supreme, a big part of this issue is the team showcasing Bendis' trademark dialogue for all to see.

There's fallout over Clint's decision to call Norman Osborn out as the criminal he is on TV last issue, but not much. For something meant to be big, it's kind of pushed aside here quickly with only Carol calling Clint out on doing it unilaterally. There's no reaction from Osborn, and barely any from the media. It's all forgotten in favor of Dr. Strange and working to make this group of Avengers more of a team.

The team discussion is a needed move since it establishes the parameters of the group, beginning with choosing a leader and dealing with some trust issues stemming from "Secret Invasion." A fairly big event happens here that may surprise some.

The Dr. Strange plot is really interesting as he travels, looking for the proper successor to the Sorcerer Supreme title as the Hood hunts for him to take that title by force. Strange's quest leads him here to Wiccan, the Young Avengers' resident magic-wielder. Bendis is smart to pick a young, naïve hero as a possible successor since that allows for Strange to explain relevant details easier and come across as less forced than with a more knowledgeable character.

Chris Bachalo comes on board to handle the art chores for the Strange segments and his work is just gorgeous. He uses a lot of negative space, giving these pages a very unique look and distinguishing them from Billy Tan's pages. One panel, in particular, stopped me cold as Bachalo depicts the Hood as a horrifying monster come to kill Strange. His off-beat, quirky style is perfect for these magic-based sections.

Tan's use of repeated panels is odd this issue as one instance features Spider-Man eating Chinese food with noodles hanging out of his mouth while talking. No, really, what's up with that? He says some stuff, other people talk and when he says more things, the noodles are still hanging out of his mouth. Is Spider-Man a gross eater? Or maybe, more thought should go into which panels are repeated? Otherwise, he handles the talking scenes well enough despite them not being his forte.

It's a slow issue to begin a new story arc, but Bendis and company do a good job of catching readers up to speed regarding Dr. Strange's fall from grace, and establishing the New Avengers as an actual team in the Avengers tradition. The addition of Chris Bachalo on art really helps the book as well.

(Chris Bachalo! Billy Tan! Compare and contrast via CBR's preview!)

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