Author Brian Michael Bendis, Illustrations and Art David Finch, Danny Miki, Frank D’Armata
This is the spoiler full review of the first half of Brian Michael Bendis’ 2004-2010 run of New Avengers. If you would prefer to stay spoiler free but still want to read about how this run ties into every major Marvel event of the early 2000s please visit here.
This total run of New Avengers is 64 issues long. I had a hard time deciding how I wanted to break it up for the reviews. Looks like I’ll be doing two massive reviews for this one. A whole helluva lot happens in these pages so get ready for a run down.
The run starts with Jessica Drew, aka Spiderwoman, Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, and Luke Cage going to a SHIELD super max prison to find a hero called The Sentry who allegedly killed his wife.
Now, if that sentence didn’t make a lot of sense to you think book is not going to be for you. There are A LOT of characters in this book, all with at least two personas and some are known to the others and some are not.
Also, you’re going to need to be familiar with the following organizations and events: SHIELD, HYDRA, HAMMER, The Thunderbolts, Civil War, House of M, The Initiative, The Secret Invasion, The Skrulls, The Hand, The Savage Land and probably some more. This is not a good place to start if you are just looking to get into Marvel, sorry.
So we’re at The Raft, the big scary prison full of the biggest bads SHIELD could round up. Electro shuts the power and releases them all into the wild.
Captain America and Iron Man decide to reassemble The Avengers in order to take on this threat. Daredevil declines the invitation but does give them a lead on someone else who may be interested. Spiderman hops on board.
Jessica Drew is in but we get our first hint that she might be a dirty double crosser.
Electro’s main goal was to break out Sauron. The New Avengers head on over to the Savage Land to find and capture him. The Savage Land is a part of Antarctica that is a prehistoric jungle full of dinosaurs. Just lean into this okay?
Along the way they pick up Wolverine who has a personal bone to pick with Sauron. Before any of these good guys can take down Sauron he’s injured by Agent Belova of SHIELD, she’s the usual Black Widow’s sister but is also a Black Widow herself. There’s so much going on here and it’s just gonna get more complicated.
The New Avengers start to tune in to some corruption within SHIELD and decide that they need to end it on top of all the other threats they’re dealing with.
They find The Sentry, aka Bob Reynolds. But also find that his wife is still alive. Turns out no one actually has memories of The Sentry and everyone is really confused as to who he is or what he is capable of.
Reynolds is a real person with powers but his persona of The Sentry is actually a comic book character. Reynolds doesn’t buy this and keeps warning that “the void” is coming.
So the void is part of Mr. Reynolds, it’s what happens when he uses his powers. Mastermind cursed him and everyone else to repress the memories of The Sentry in an attempt to depower him. Emma Frost jumps into the mix to use her telepathy powers to unlock his mind. He joins the New Avengers and Emma Frost goes back to her Narnia sex dungeon or whatever her white corseted jam is.
And take a breath.
That’s just the first 10 issues. But don’t let my quick and dirty summary deter you. Bendis is masterful at juggling all of these characters and plots. The book honestly maintains a good pace and as long as you are already familiar with Marvel you shouldn’t be too lost. However, if you don’t know these characters at least by name this probably sounds like a fever dream.
Now we learn that Jessica Drew is being controlled by Madam Hydra. Drew has a family history with HYDRA and Madam Hydra is responsible for Drew’s Spiderwoman powers.
Side note, apparently on of her powers is releasing a pheromone that makes men think she’s mating material. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. And it sure as hell confuses the men around her, for exactly one page, before it is never mentioned again.
Captain America and the New Avengers capture Madam Hydra. Jessica Drew attempts to subtly release her but nearly kills Cap in the process. He begins to suspect something.
This whole time there has been a mystery ninja present, remember that Daredevil offered someone in his place? Well the mystery ninja is revealed and it’s freaking Echo!
A lot of you might be like, who? Well she’s one of my absolute favorite characters and is very under-utilized so I’m very excited. She’s a deaf mimic, she can do anything she can see.
Echo aside, now we learn even more about Jessica Drew. She was actually acting as a double agent under Nick Fury who is no longer the head of SHIELD because forces have placed Maria Hill in his place. So everyone needs to work together against some dark force that is controlling both HYDRA and SHIELD.
After this we start to get a lot of tie ins to two major Marvel events: Civil War and House of M. I can’t get into all of that without writing a whole book so I’m sorry if you’re unfamiliar.
We have yet another new threat now, this one is simply named Michael. Despite his name he’s actually a really big threat. Big enough for the New Avengers to need to call in Ms Marvel, aka Carol Danvers. Y’know, the Ms Marvel who is Captain Marvel not the Ms Marvel who is a really stretchy Muslim girl and not the Captain Marvel that is a DC man-child. Comic books!
Turns out Michael was just an innocent human living alone on a farm unaware that he is a power absorbing mutant. When House of M went down everyone’s powers had to go somewhere, they went to Michael. Now he has all of the powers and no idea what is going on.
The New Avengers neutralize him as a threat but then Civil War begins. The Sentry decides to join team Iron Man (wrong choice) and everyone else joins team Captain America (right choice). Iron Man is a jerk and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Back to Echo, aka Maya Lopez. She’s been living in Japan as Ronin. Elektra finds her, kills her, revives her, and attempts to use her for The Hand. This plot prompted me to buy this cover:
It’s both my main Marvel ladies!
Ahem, fangirling aside, Cap and his team rescue Echo, aka Ronin, and welcome her to the underground.
Underground Avengers are attempting to form a plan when Iron Jerk, aka Tony Stark aka Iron Man, and Ms Marvel show up to arrest them for violating the terms of the Superhero registration Act.
Somewhere in here Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, appears back from the dead. That’ll come in more later.
And Elektra comes with the full force of the Hand in an attempt to re-kidnap Echo. Echo kicks serious butt and kills Elektra.
But Elektra leaves behind a green corpse, a Skrull corpse.
The New Avengers realize this problem is even bigger than they could’ve even imagined. Anyone could actually be a Skrull, no one can be trusted, and everything is falling apart.
This is where I’ll leave off for this run. A good solid cliffhanger, just like everyone likes.
As crazy and convoluted as all of that probably sounds I actually really enjoyed this run. It has a lot of great characters and Bendis finds a reason for them all to be there. Great heroes need big problems to solve and these are some of the biggest.
If you are already knee deep in Marvel fandom definitely give this one a read. However, if you are unfamiliar with Civil War please do yourself a favor and start there. It’s marvel-ous.
4/5 super powered beings 🐱🏍🐱🏍🐱🏍🐱🏍
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I wasn’t really happy with how they collected this run in trades but here’s the first 10 issues to get you started:
Buy it here: New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout (The New Avengers)