New Avengers #1
"Breakout!" Part 1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Penciled by David Finch
Inked by Danny Miki
Colored by Frank D'Armata
Lettered by Comicraft (Albert Deschene)
"Six months"1 after the Avengers disband, a new team assembles to stop Electro from breaking an army of supervillains out of the Raft.2
Actually, that's a pretty generous plot summary — at the end of the issue the breakout has just begun and most of the team members aren't even in costume yet. It's a bit too slowly paced for my tastes, especially as the issue is devoted entirely to the mechanical aspects of getting the key players into the same place at the same time. I might have been a bit more forgiving if there was an awesome action sequence or some poignant character moments, but right now this seems like a pretty poor use of 22 pages.
David Finch's storytelling is better suited to the slow pace of this story than to the chaotic carnage he's drawn of late. He's not exactly brilliant — but he does a decent job of establishing the sequence of events and guiding your eye from one panel to the next. On the other hand, this is all building to a huge fight scene, and given what "Avengers Disassembled" looked like, I'm pretty sure that it's going to look like crap.
What really jumped out at me, though, was this sequence from page 13...
The intended sequence of events is pretty simple — Spidey needs to find a way out to the Raft, spots a helicopter, and hitches a ride.4 Unfortunately, the helicopter is in the wrong panel. As it stands now, the presence of the helicopter in the first panel makes this scene somewhat confusing — it's not unreadable, but certainly more than a tad disjointed.
But you know what? This isn't Finch's problem. The mistake might be in his pencils, but it managed to slip by the inker, colorist, letterer, and four editors. It's a trivial fix, too — the panels are virtually identical, so swapping them in Photoshop would take maybe a minute. In the last few years, Marvel has let all sorts of suspicious storytelling slide — remember the consider the confusing rooftop sequence from Marvel Knights Spider-Man #9.5 Do the editors even read their own comics anymore? I'm not saying we need to go back to the bad old days of Jim Shooter scribbling over originals with a red pen, but it would be nice to have someone in editorial working with the artists to help improve their storytelling.
- 1. You know, when DC killed off Superman and crippled Batman, they actually went away for months. When Marvel kills off Spider-Man or the Avengers they're gone for a matter of weeks. Note to Marvel editors — nothing creates the illusion of time passing better than actual time passing.
- 2. Part of me wonders how this army of losers is going to threaten anyone. Take away the U-Foes and Electro, and you're left with what? Crossbones, Jigsaw, Shockwave, the Armadillo, Vermin, the Scarecrow, Typhoid Mary and the Controller? These guys might pose a threat to Spider-Man, Cage, or Daredevil in single combat — but Iron Man and Sentry should have these guys vaporized in a matter of seconds.
2Then again, the intent is obviously to distract the heroes with cannon fodder while Electro breaks out the Purple Man, so you're not exactly supposed to buy this group as the new masters of evil...
- 3. For that matter, I wonder why some of these guys are on the Raft to begin with. Jigsaw, Crossbones, Shockwave and the Scarecrow don't really have any powers — take away their gear and they're just normal people (well, except for Jigsaw, who can't turn his head). But I guess it's cooler to just let them have their costumes in lock-up.
- 4. It's not related to the art, but I should probably mention that Spidey hitching a ride on a helicopter isn't a new idea. Heck, he did it thirty years ago in Howard the Duck #1, where it was played for laughs.
- 5. For those of youx who didn't buy it, there's a sequence in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #9 where you're supposed to think that Spidey's been killed by the new Venom, only to discover that it's an innocent bystander wearing a store-bought Spider-Man costume. Unfortunately, the way the scene is drawn the sequence of events is extremely confusing — and the lettering quite clearly has the "fake" Spider-Man speaking the real Spidey's dialogue. Those two or three pages desperately needed to be rewritten and redrawn — or at the very least have the tails erased off of a few word balloons — and yet Marvel editorial apparently didn't touch them at all.