Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Revisiting The Avengers pt. II

I’ve been reading The Avengers on a monthly basis since a little before Bendis pulled the whole Disassembled thing. Looking back on it, that’s a lot of time to invest into a title. Couple that with the fact that I stuck with Bendis’ handling of the team through both the New and Mighty Avengers titles and then the “Heroic Age” relaunch and that’s a lot of time spent reading his take on the franchise. I’ll admit that for me, Bendis is the name I will probably always associate with Avengers. I’ve gone back and read most of the pivotal runs and I think only Kurt Busiek’s run matches it in density and enjoyability. Though there are some classic Silver Age moments that I quite enjoy.

I had to drop both of the Avengers titles shortly after the relaunch because of monetary issues. A lot of really good books got chopped, actually. But with the movie recently in theaters I thought it would be a good idea to re-examine some prominent Avengers stories once again and so here we are.

AVENGERS v. II
Written by Brian Michael Bendis with artwork by John Romita Jr.

This volume collects issues 6-12 of Brian Bendis’ 2010 Avengers relaunch. This time around the team is already assembled and they get thrust headfirst into the adventure. This arc, like the first six issues, has a lot of what some people would call “classic” Avengers fare. The crux of the story revolves around a villain attempting to collect all of the Infinity Gems. This time around however, the story contains a lot of the hallmarks of Bendis’ favorite tropes and schemes. For example, the villain of this piece isn’t an old schooler like Kang but a more recent invention in Parker Robbins, aka the Hood.

While our antagonist is most definitely from the new blood of Marvel, the threat of the Infinity Gems recall Avengers tales of the past. Bendis does revert to his usual shenanigans of playing around with Marvel history, drawing heavily from his Illuminati storyline. This reads almost as a mini-sequel to that event and as a result it doesn’t feel quite as new-reader friendly as the first volume. That’s not to say that the things this arc references aren’t adequately explained because they are and readers willing to go with the flow will be able to easily keep up.

The big shakeup this time around is the addition of the Red Hulk to the team. Parts of the arc seem to work as a redemption of the character who in the early days of his own title was written as so omnipowerful that he became unimaginably boring. With this story, Bendis manages to use the fact that Rulk was written as unimaginably powerful to elevate the threat level of the Hood and his quest for the Infinity Gems. It’s quite effective.

Honestly, I enjoyed this arc much more than the first. Even the artwork seemed better developed this time around. It may be a bit of personal preference, but the title seems to have found its balance with this story and the addition of the Red Hulk to the team. I can’t say everyone will have the same reaction, but this volume seems to have the right mix of the classic style with the fresh perspective of Bendis’ writing.

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