Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review: Avengers Disassembled

I read Avengers Disassembled not quite knowing what to expect. I've been wanting to read something by Brain Michael Bendis for quite some time now. Bendis is one of the big names in comics, and possibly the biggest name at Marvel. I guess I didn't know what to expect because I feel like I have left the costumed heroes of my youth (the typical Marvel and DC heroes and heroines,) behind for the most part...aside from Batman. Yet here I was with an Avengers graphic novel in my hand. But, like I said, blame it on that Bendis guy. He is just too big of a name for me to ignore, and since my comic buying comes with a tight budget, (two things that don't go hand in hand very well), I was intrigued by this single book which I hoped would serve as a good introduction to Bendis' writings.

Well, now I'm not so sure. For the most part, 99% of my graphic novel reading has been planted firmly in the geared-towards-adults zone. Avengers Disassembled is not in that zone. It is aimed more at young teens. This was the most obvious when reading some of the dialog: "AAGGH! This is a nightmare! GGAARRGH!! What is this?? Why is this Happening??" Yep. That was taken from the book, from the same page, from the same panel. I did not make that up. So, yeah the dialog sucked. There were times when there was so much dialog between characters that entire pages of the book dragged on, and other times that there didn't seem to be enough. The latter times are likely due to my complete lack of knowledge concerning the current events in the Marvel Universe, and these parts assumed a bit of knowledge one the reader's part, but I haven't read an Avengers comic in years...and that was a West Coast Avengers title.

Despite my Marvel hiatus, I knew most of the major players. There was Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Vision, dudes I remembered from my youth, and others I kinda recalled, like Ant-Man, (lamest hero ever?) Essentially what goes down is the Avengers are having a really shitty day. First a former, long thought dead, teammate returns to their mansion/base and explodes, killing poor little Ant-Man. Then Iron Man loses it at a UN summit and flips out at the representative from I'm not misspelling that, that was the made up country name. Oh, yeah, there is more great dialog in that scene as well. Following that, while the Avengers back at the mansion are just recovering, Vision turns up, (another team member long missing), crashes a space-jet into the mansion, and deals out a cryptic message. More bad things happen, and more Avengers die, and eventually, with their government funding cut off thanks to Iron Man's flip, and team morale being at an all time low, they break up the team. (I feel like this isn't a spoiler given the title of the book).

My biggest problem with this graphic novel is that it never was surprising. The title isn't the only reason for this either, as I was never surprised when things went bad, or when Avengers died. It all felt pretty predictable. Added to that is the reasoning provided for why the Avengers are having a bad day was pretty convoluted. It seemed like Bendis was trying too hard to make the pieces fit...though maybe this again is due to my inexperience in the Marvel world and I would have understood things better had I more knowledge of current Marvel events.

The artwork, drawn by David Finch was quite good though. The pages were glossy and filled with big explosions and muscles. The heroes from my youth have never looked better, as Finch made Iron Man's suit look bad-ass, and the scenes where She-Hulk hulked out were visually pleasing.

I'm afraid Brian Michael Bendis and I got off to a bad start, but I don't think it is fair to judge his work based solely off this graphic novel. He isn't one of the biggest names in comics because he writes cheesy dialog and his stuff is predictable. I'll give him another shot, but probably outside of the Avenger's world.

Grade: C-

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