New Avengers #59

Sometimes I forget that this series was launched with the art of David Finch. It's especially easy to forget now that Stuart Immonen is on board. Immonen -- fast, dynamic, expressive, consistently great -- should really be the Marvel artist. He should be the guy who becomes the house style for this late-Quesada era. Because he makes this Brian Michael Bendis script seem energetic, suspenseful, fun, and full of tension.

Fifty-nine issues in, and "New Avengers" is hitting its stride, and Immonen deserves much of the credit.

Bendis plots a tight issue here, though. It's got some of the Bendis dialogue flair that sometimes stumbles into wince-worthy territory (the repetition of "looky loo" might work when characters in a Soderbergh film do their faux Rat Pack banter, but when it's Clint Barton and Jessica Drew, not so much), but the way Bendis alternates between Luke Cage in H.A.M.M.E.R. custody, his pals planning to rescue him, the diversion, the secret infiltration, and the Dark Avenger response? That stuff shows the skills of a guy who's a master of the twenty-two page serial chapter.

And he squeezes plenty of guest stars in this issue. It's basically a heist caper, with Luke Cage as the loot. And while the New Avengers provide the "looky loo" distraction, the F.O.O.L.s swing into action (that would be Friends of Ol' Luke, an acronym Bendis never uses in the issue, but I'm sure it will catch on now that I've injected it into your brain), including the newly-promoted Doctor Voodoo, Immonen-family friend Hellcat, top-ninja-dog Daredevil, and the finally-sporting-David-Aja-designed-threads Iron Fist. I could name the rest of the characters involved, but I'll leave some surprises for you when you actually read the issue. And you should. It's pretty good.

Plus, there's nice little twist at the end. Nothing all that surprising in context, not really, but it makes the final sequence bittersweet.

For all the criticism Bendis gets for decompression and slowly unfolding storylines (and I've shared in the whining about such things), "New Avengers" #59 proves that he's skillful at pacing a single-issue story while building in structural elements and character bits that will pay off down the road. It's just good, solid superhero comic book storytelling, from both Bendis and Immonen.

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