Norman Osborn is back!!
New Avengers #16.1, the supposed jumping-on point for new readers, features the return of a guy I think we’re all just about set with. As a big Green Goblin fan, even I’m starting wear thin with the “ohhhh crazy Norman Osborn has gone nutty again” premise. What’s even more disheartening is that this issue kicks off an entire year of the New Avengers against Osborn and his H.A.M.M.E.R. goons. According to Marvel, Osborn is even bringing back the Dark Avengers. It’s as if writer Brian Michael Bendis scrapped together a batch of unpublished Dark Reign stories and decided to try and get another mile out of a storyline that was long-winded to begin with.
So now we’re stuck with Norman Osborn being all crazy and high-minded about his better way of running the world. He has a batch of followers and a whole lot of hi-tech toys with which to make this year a real bitch for the New Avengers. The problem with New Avengers 16.1 comes in two forms, the tangible and the intangible. The tangible is the fact that the issue feels rushed. I understand Bendis had to wade through the whole Fear Itself mess as well as the weird make-Daredevil-an-Avenger issue, but things happen a little too swiftly to work as the foundation of a yearlong story arc.
New Avengers 16.1 opens with Norman having an “I’m so craaaazy” talk with his alter ego before it launches into a ridiculous jailbreak scenario. Guarded by the Avengers, Osborn says “the word is given” and suddenly all the guards turn on the Avengers and break Osborn out. It’s that fast, there’s almost no set up and really sloppy execution. The most egregious detail is that Osborn was in the presence of Wolverine, who could have smelled the nervousness and fear on the guards. Nope, he’s taken by surprise and gets his face shot off. Within the blink of an eye, the story is done and Osborn is before a cheering audience.
The intangible part of New Avengers 16.1 is how it lowers the idea of the Avengers once again. The Avengers used to be the ultimate superhero team, brought together for only the most sinister of threats. Now, Avengers are more like a sports team with a revolving door of members that have expanded to need the word “New” before it. Originally, the New Avengers were a new form of the old team after Avengers Disassembled, now it’s a separate team and the Avengers are feeling less and less like the team we all love. Battling Norman Osborn? That’s Spider-Man’s longtime job alone, not something for an entire team of superheroes. The whole idea of The Avengers is starting to run cold.
Even more depressing is that the art, from iconic legend Neal Adams, is weak. I am a huge Neal Adams fan, he defined Batman and Green Lantern for me, but the work on New Avengers is, for lack of a better word, goofy. Everything is just a little too animated, the lines a little too wobbly. The entire scene at Avengers Mansion looks like something out of Mad Magazine, as does the jailbreak. For some reason, Iron Fist always looks ridiculous, as if Adams had it out for him. Between the lackluster story, the return (again) of Norman Osborn and the sub-par art, New Avengers 16.1 is more a jumping-off point than jumping-on.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 4/10