Review: New Avengers #17

Brian Michael Bendis gives us an all-out action issue for a nice change of pace... and Norman Osborn is back.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

New Avengers 17

The New Avengers are shown on the cover of issue #17 leaping into action. It’s one of those classic “New Dawn” type covers – a reboot, a rebirth, a new something for somebody to do against some new foe. It’s obvious that Brian Michael Bendis is glad to be free of the Fear Itself shackles so he can unleash his year-long battle between The New Avengers and (sigh) Norman Osborn… again. It’s nice to see Bendis throwing a little action our way after forcing readers to sit through his pretentious and long winded “documentary interview” obsession. The New Avengers #17 is pure action that manages to set up a hint of what Osborn is up to.

When I say action I’m not kidding. Giant H.A.M.M.E.R. robot attacks, New Avengers hit the scene, battles rages on, and Spider-Man tosses out some clever one-liners. It’s stuff like that where Bendis shines, where his overbearing writing takes a backseat to his love for straight comic book action. Bendis breaks the issue up into two sections. The huge epic giant robot battle and then, setting the clocks back, we get the same fight but seen through the eyes of Norman Osborn and his new lackeys. Apparently in issue #18, the new Dark Avengers make their appearance. And that’s where the problem is.

New Dark Avengers? Norman Osborn on the loose? As well written and fun as New Avengers 17 is, it lacks any real punch for several reasons. First, how many Avengers “New Dawn” jump off issues are we going to get? Then there’s the Dark Avengers, a boring storyline from one of the slowest event series in Marvel history. Third is Norman Osborn. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, enough Osborn, stop using this dude as the fallback position of evil. Forget how dull Osborn was during Dark Reign – why would Marvel bring back a storyline that nobody was really into? The lion's share of comic book fans didn’t enjoy Dark Reign enough to warrant a come back tour.

The final problem is a personal one. With all of the new members, different titles and multiple adventures, Avengers just doesn’t feel like Avengers anymore. It’s not a special team of the best of the best. Instead it’s “take a gaggle of random people, slap a descriptive term in front of the Avengers name and just go."  All of the new parts make the whole a lot less powerful and even Bendis can’t change that.

Mike Deodato and Will Conrad do a great job with the art. These two are detail-oriented artists, putting as much into the backgrounds as the focus of each panel. At the risk of sounding insulting, Deodato and Conrad have a very Michael Bay vibe going on in issue 17. Every single panel is the money shot; it’s all presented with huge movement and epic action. This is one of the highest-octane comics I’ve read in a long time and it’s all because of the art. It’s clean even for such high detail and the characters are spot on. This is easily my favorite thing about this entire issue.