Almost one year after the re-launch of The Avengers, the title continues to get better and better. Granted the first arc, having to do with time travel, wasn’t my favorite but this latest arc featuring the Infinity Gems has delivered on what the team of Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. promised from the get go.
This is classic Avengers stuff, good guys going up against bad guys (or one bad guy). Sure it’s a little deeper than when Thor, Captain America and Iron Man tried to stop a Loki controlled Hulk, but the vibe is the same. Comics just being comics is getting harder and harder to find, so a major title like this embracing the idea is very special.
It’s not been an easy few days for The Avengers. Not only has The Hood almost completed his collection of the Infinity Gems, but also the fact that the Illuminati, made up of Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, and Reed Richards, hid the gems without telling anyone has pissed off Captain America. As far as Steve Rogers is concerned, when the Hood is defeated, Iron Man is off the team. As always, Brian Michael Bendis nails the dialog, which isn’t easy when you’re speaking for so many characters. Bendis knows these heroes and villains inside and out so every bit of dialog feels real, even if it’s only one line.
Where Bendis really surprised me was the amount of treachery and deceit in the issue. The entire way The Hood is defeated comes to down to the old bait and switch. It’s another nod to how well Bendis knows this world. If The Avengers attempted this type of Three Card Monty with a bigger and more powerful villain, it would have seemed beneath both said villain and the team.
However, The Hood is such a sad sack that the idea completely works. In fact if The Hood didn’t have most of the Infinity Gems, The Avengers probably wouldn’t have wasted the energy. The final page is a real doozy. I won’t give it away but I will say that Bendis adds an entirely new depth to Steve Rogers in one page.
It’s hard for me to judge the art fairly since John Romita Jr. is a hero of mine. To me nobody creates the world of a comic book the way Romita Jr. does. There’s a balance of old and new school, of Jack Kirby meeting Neal Adams that makes every page a delight. The characters are bigger than life as are the situations. Few can handle motion and impact the way Romita Jr. does.
Look at the simplistic beauty but raw power of the Red Hulk gatefold in the middle of the issue; you can actually feel the force of the punch. Some will say Romita Jr.’s art is too cartoonish but it’s not, it just isn’t this pretentious “gritty” real world stuff that Marvel loves to shoehorn into almost all their books. Avengers #12 is another notch in the belt of a creative team I hope stays on board for a long time to come.