I don’t read New Avengers. It’s not because I don’t like the characters or Bendis. I love Bendis. But I also don’t have infinite money to throw at Marvel and they already have a ridiculous number of X-Men titles (which I’ve been into since I was a kid). Reading this issue has convinced me that I need to go back and get the trades of Bendis’ approximately two year run on the series. One criticism I have about the X-books is that they usually tend to focus on the same cast of characters (at least nowadays - Claremont had things worked out well back in the day), making it seem a bit redundant. X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, for example, feature almost the exact same cast. And, until the Marjorie Liu reboot, the only thing special about Astonishing X-Men was Armor’s inclusion. But, based on this issue of New Avengers and what I’ve read about Bendis’ run online, it’s been about Luke Cage and his team more than the main avengers. And, if you’re going to have a bunch of Avengers titles, why not have each one focus on a different set of characters? Gives a good chance for breakout characters to emerge, for one thing.
As someone who just became a father a few months ago, the main story of this issue (which gets “interrupted” for Avengers vs X-Men) really resonated with me. Luke and Jessica are also new parents and it has completely changed their lives. Similar to the main plot point of Kill Bill, Jessica isn’t so sure she needs to be using her powers to fight evil when it could mean leaving her child orphaned or kidnapped. Also, in the aftermath of Fear Itself, the Avengers have been working out of their home, attracting villains to come attack them. Bendis writes some of the most authentic husband/wife dialogue I’ve read in comics and you really feel that this could be a huge shift in life for Luke and his family. Of course, with the comics industry money and real-world sales can make characters do funny things, but at least for the Bendis run, it seems Luke could end up giving up the superhero post for a while.
The secondary function of this issue was to serve as a behind the scenes look at how the New Avengers end up on the helicarrier featured at the end of Avengers vs X-Men #1. There was some pretty good banter in this section - Bendis is pretty darned good at that - and you get a good feel for the mood of the characters before they jump into battle. The biggest weakness is that I picked up this book because it’s related to Avengers vs X-Men. But since Marvel has eschewed crossovers for event books, it means that the story can’t advance in this issue. All we can do is get the backstory. And that makes me a little less likely to buy these Avenger tie-in books which would obviate the whole point of these universe-wide Marvel events. In the end, Marvel will probably still get money from me because now I’m leaning towards collecting the trades of Bendis’ New Avengers run. Still, what was there was good and I enjoyed reading it. I’d recommend it if you’re reading any part of the Avengers vs the X-Men.Just, caveat emptor - this cover has NOTHING to do with what happens inside. (Except that the end of the book ties into the end of AvX #1)