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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 87: New Avengers #9

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from New Avengers #9, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated September 2005. Enjoy!

I get that this is too small to read, but you can click on those pretty pictures to make them bigger. It’s odd that a comic begins with a double-page spread, but Bendis cares not for your rules!

When Brian Michael Bendis gets in his best Bendisian mood, the artist better just step back and let him be! Steve McNiven (inked by Mark Morales) doesn’t have a whole lot to do here. He has to draw six men sitting around a table, and I guess he makes it as exciting as he can. McNiven is somewhat of an acquired taste, because his art is super-slick, and Morry Hollowell’s colors add to that, but he does what he can (the next page – also a double-page spread – is much more action-packed).

Bendis gives a new reader plenty of information on this page: the six men (they’re called the Illuminati because, well, it’s just too stupid to go into right now) are discussing a superhero called the Sentry, but they’re apparently having some trouble recalling who he is. “Tony” and “Reed” – probably recognizable as Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic – do the bulk of the talking, with Creepy Bald Dude saying a few things (Xavier’s degree of creepiness depends on the artist, and McNiven, for whatever reason, makes him really creepy). When Reed checks his computer and discovers that he has many, many files on the Sentry, Xavier tells him he thinks someone has tampered with his brain. So: there’s a superhero, some people don’t know who he is, and Mr. Fantastic may have had his brain futzed with. Bendis does manage to get a lot of information onto these pages.

Whether you like this comic and want to turn the page might actually rely less on the information given than on the manner in which it’s given. Bendis has one of the most distinctive “voices” in comics, and it’s the biggest reason why he’s been Grand Poobah of the Marvel Universe for a decade. His jittery speech style took comics by storm back in the late 1990s, and he took it from his early Image work to the biggest Marvel comics. Some people love it, some don’t. If you like it, this page (or pages) show it fairly well; there’s not a lot of interrupting, which Bendis characters do with maddening regularity, but otherwise, this is what a Bendis comic reads like. The biggest problem with Bendis comics is that every single character speaks like this, and if people didn’t use names every so often, you’d have no idea who was talking if you just saw the dialogue printed out. This is a problem with a lot of comic book writers, frankly, but because Bendis’s style is so idiosyncratic, it makes it more annoying if you don’t like it. Either way, this is what you get with a lot of Bendis comics. Do you like this page? Then you’ll probably like Bendis comics.

What the hell does Black Bolt do at these meetings, anyway?

Next: WALT SIMONSON!!!!!!! Because, you know, he’s awesome. You can see some more awesome comics in the archives!

8 Comments

Black Bolt is judging, always judging.

And crop dusting. He’s always crop dusting.

I think Black Bolt’s main job here is to hold the staple that holds the pages together. It’s an important job!

The esteemed Mr. Boltagon’s role there was spying on the others and plotting to enslave humanity, if I recall correctly.

Black Bolt brings the donuts. It’s why the others let him attend.

Man, it sounds like Black Bolt’s the most important one!!! I’d let him enslave humanity if he always brought the donuts!

Someone should totally blow Bendis’s mind by telling him to write a Black Bolt solo story. No dialogue. No thought balloons. boom!

Pete Woodhouse

March 30, 2012 at 5:00 am

I’ve never read Bendis apart from some of the first Ultimate Spidey TPB. The above example isn’t bad as a scene-setter/info dump but have heard that entire issues can be full of talking heads with wise-ass back and forth dialogue, which frankly puts me off.
Is that unfair or is there more to a typical Bendis story?

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