Brian Michael Bendis is the premiere writer for delivering Marvel comics in the classic sense of the term. He might have been brought into the fold for his sense of edgy plotting and snappy dialogue -- and he has used these to effect in varied places -- but now he's fallen into the role of main architect. With this position comes blockbuster expectations and he certainly does his best to make these spandex comics feel larger than life. In this annual, the New Avengers face a threat of mammoth proportions as the past comes back to haunt them and the future may never be the same.
The first third of this issue uses some spectacular Gabrielle Dell'Otto art to recap the last few years of the Avengers, while also explaining the motivations behind this new attack. The summaries are egocentrically focused on more recent events and yet they still convey the message through splendor and scope.
Old school Wonder Man fans are going to be heavily divided on this new use of an aged classic. Many will bemoan Bendis as the master of writing out of character, some will welcome this new development, and others will just be happy he's being used at all and hope he will stay, or reemerge, relevant. This might be a turn for Wonder Man but it still feels satisfying. His actions are based on internal logic and that much should be applauded. That logic might be externally false in most cases, and it is, but if Wonder Man believes it then that's what must be dealt with.
Wonder Man opens by talking directly to the reader and stating that this might not be what you deem popular or think is true or feel is fair or even what you want. He is not concerned with this because he knows this is what is happening right now and so that makes all of this the truth. Simon Williams is talking about the Avengers as a concept, but the words might as well be Bendis discussing his use of this fan favorite character. If you don't like this, you're unlucky; it's happening. Comics were never a creation by committee process and they never should be. Without chances being taken, great things do not happen.
The team Wonder Man assembles, the so-called "Revengers," are an extremely eclectic bunch. Many of these men haven't been used in years and for most there has been a reason. These losers and outcasts aren't the greatest characters. Bendis has his hands full making us care about any of them. There is so much fighting that Bendis isn't able to imbue many of these guys with much character work. He finds a few panels to remind how annoying D-Man is and the rest are given more actions than words, which is fair enough for the first issue.
Dell'Otto's art is often easily categorized as being extremely gorgeous while also looking incredibly fixed in time. He so often captures a still moment when comic pages require motion. While this has been a struggle in the past, those problems are mostly rectified in this issue. The colors from Ive Svorcina help make this look more like an "Avengers" book so as to ease readers into the tale. This is one of Dell'Otto's best fight scenes and, with Svorcina, the energy of the combatants crackles on the page.
Bendis brings the house down with this issue. There are a slew of characters on these pages, most are punching each other, and it's all just the start of something big. You could easily use this issue to jump into the whole Avengers affair to see what you think. The usual niggles of Bendis writing are apparent and so the haters will do their thing and the others will vote with their wallet and have a hell of a ride. This book is certainly a whole stack of fun and the last page certainly makes you want to then pick up "Avengers Annual" #1. This is an unabashed superhero comic. Enter for the spandex punching and one-liners, stay outside if you're looking for introspective navel gazing and erudite soliloquising. Let your inner kid out to play and slap this book in their hand, they'll run off smiling into the sunset.