Posted by: Graeme McMillan on September 9, 2010
If nothing else, comparing both of Brian Michael Bendis’ relaunched Avengers books – AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS – is useful in illustrating the importance of artists on his writing. Well, that and the importance of choosing the right characters to write in the first place.
See, to me, New Avengers is successful in a way that Avengers just… isn’t, and at first read, I couldn’t really work out why. Both series have essentially the same plot for their opening arcs – Cosy rebuilding of the team is interrupted by massive disasterous event that forces our heroes onto the defensive – and, let’s be honest, Bendis can only write that kind of thing in one way (Lots of characters asking what’s going on, double page spreads to demonstrate the scale of the threat before cutting to vignettes cutting between individual characters asking what’s wrong and being told to concentrate on what is happening at that very moment while, somewhere, someone figures out the bigger picture). But despite the similarities, Avengers feels so much more scattered and haphazard, so less smooth a reading experience, that it’s as if it’s been written by someone else to me.
The trick is, I think, that Bendis’ voice works far better for the characters in New Avengers, and Stuart Immonen’s art is so much easier on the eye than John Romita Jr.’s (I feel like some kind of turncoat for saying that, for some reason; I used to love Romita Jr.’s artwork, and still feel like it’s got a lot of charm at times, but it really feels too busy, too blocky, for me in Avengers for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on). Avengers is something that feels like a slog to read – in part because it stutters instead of flows, catching and slowing down with unwieldy dialogue – Bendis’ Thor in particular is horrible, it’s not just me, right? – while New Avengers speeds by, in comparison. Is it because Bendis’ take on Avengers‘ more iconic characters feels more forced and less natural than the down-to-earth characters in New Avengers? I’m not sure – I’m not sure that the disconnect is there for anyone other that myself, to be honest – but as I catch up on both series, it’s something I find kind of wonderful, more than anything else: That the same writer writing what could easily be the same series twice can come up with such different results. While Avengers just feels Okay to me, New Avengers continues to be Good.
Maybe I just want to see Doctor Strange get punched by Iron Fist. It’s normally something that simple.