The Avengers #500–503 and The Avengers: Finale by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch
This collection of comic books would probably mean more (or anger me) if I was an Avengers fan of old; I’m not and therefore have no link to these characters as a team. The history is nothing me. So, I hope I come to it with a fresh eye.
This story is firmly in the territory of ‘blockbuster’ comics – a page or two of Bendis dialogue, then straight into the action: Jack of Hearts (who?) walks into the Avengers mansion and blows himself up, killing Scott Lang (Ant-Man). Meanwhile, Tony Stark acts like a twat at the United Nations, threatening the Latverian representative. Back at the mansion, the Vision crashes the Quinjet into the mansion, before vomiting out five Ultrons. She-Hulk goes beserk and rips apart the Vision (fortunately, Iron Man knocks her down – well, I say ‘her’, she looks more like a man by the end of the hulking out).
An aside: a direct quote from Clint to Tony provides the basis for the first story of the Mighty Avengers, ‘[Ultron] could be alive in you armor for all you know.’
The second issue is the pause in the blockbuster – the dialogue scenes that Bendis does well – time for the emotion: the double-page spread of the former Avengers in front of the mansion. Then the action returns in the third issue with an alien invasion (Kree soldiers attack the Avengers) where Clint dies heroically. The invading army disappears before Dr Strange arrives in time for the fourth issue – the explanation: Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
Going back to the John Byrne run on West Coast Avengers, when it was revealed that the two children of Wanda and the Vision were not real, they were created by Wanda’s Hex power to will them into existence. As Dr Strange says, ‘There’s no such thing as Chaos magic.’ (Sorry, Kurt Busiek.) This is the important part of the story – the reason behind all this has be sound and logical (well, within the realms of comic books) and I do believe in the justification. I also like the double-page spread of the old pictures of Wanda, indicating a nice sense of history. It has been thought through and presented with a feeling for the stories that led up to it.
The Avengers go to Wanda, who tries to stop them, but Strange takes them down. Then Magneto comes to take her away (and set up for House of M). As a breakdown story, this is robustly constructed narrative. Bendis slots the plot mechanics together solidly and is ably supported by Finch, bringing his Michael Bay style of modern superheroics and the action and spectacle (except for his drawing Ms Marvel’s bottom whenever he can – some sort of fetish he has, constantly showing her with the costume up her crack).
The finale is the multi-artist jam clip show, which can be basically summed up as ‘Weren’t the Avengers great?!’ This seems a little sad, not in a good way, even if the artists bring some great work to the ‘story’. It feels a little false and a bit forced, but perhaps it means more to an Avengers’ fan. I have enjoyed the New Avengers mostly (with the exception of The Collective story, obviously) so this story had to happen but this isn’t a great story. It sets up things by closing things down in an adequate fashion but nothing special. But is there a connection to Secret Invasion?