Something Completely Different: New Avengers #40

Publisher: Marvel

At the end of a good comic book issue, the reader should have one of three reactions: “Whoa”, “Wow” or “Heh”.  The first two are pretty self explanatory.  “Heh” is a reaction that means either “nice twist” or “I should’ve known”.  The newest issue of New Avengers combined both aspects of “Heh” perfectly.

The issue as a whole is not that riveting.  Bendis takes us back to the final panel from the first issue of his New Avengers: Illuminati series and shows what happened next, more specifically how the Skrull Queen came to power.  The issue focuses on how the invasion plan came about and, more interestingly, how the Skrulls chose those who would be replaced.  It makes a lot of sense, actually, especially in light of who popped out of the Skrull ship at the end of Secret Invasion #1.

But all of that story aside, the final panel was truly a “Heh” moment.  The Skrull Queen decides that she wants to be one of the replacements and asks who could she replace that would do the most damage.  The reveal on the last page is brilliant.  As soon as you see who it is, and then play back everything that has happened since Avengers Disassembled, you realize how truly brilliant it is.  All of a sudden, everything this character, who hadn’t be relevant in years, did becomes a possible betrayal of Earth.  We don’t even know when the switch happened (or if it ever did actually happen) but the possibility really sends your mind spinning.  Its further proof that Bendis has really been planning this for years.

(Side Note: The “Something Completely Different” entries have both been Avenger issues.  This is not by design.  Its just these were the only things that really stuck out to me lately, that didn’t involve television.  Expect future entries to include Music, Movies, and even DC Comics, once Final Crisis revs up.)

Final Grade: B+


One Response

  1. Did you notice that Spider-Woman’s history, as described in NEW AVENGERS, is incompatible with her being a Skrull? Bendis’s conspiracy-oriented material, suggesting that both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA were being threatened by corporate interests, had nothing to do with Skrulls, and supposing (as one is forced to do) that Spider-Woman was lying about her past is ridiculous. The only explanation that comes close to working would be that she was replaced some time after NEW AVENGERS #23, which had Bendis trying to terminate his S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA storyline.

    As for NEW AVENGERS #40, the issue is, perhaps, the worst yet in terms of writing techniques. Bendis tries to have Skrulls talk about genetics without using terms related to genetics, and fails miserably. For some specifics:

    Take, for instance, one Skrull’s use of “reverse biological engineering,” whereas Pym used “biological reverse engineering” in MIGHTY AVENGERS #6. Unfortunately, both phrases are meaningless; Bendis should have used “genetic engineering.” He also manages to use the word “genealogy” incorrectly.

    Probably the worst bit of dialogue in the issue is the nonsensical string that includes “strip out the humans’ neural coded brain wave patterns” and means less than nothing.

    In talking about the Illuminati, the Skrulls fail to recognize the differences between somatic mutants (e.g., the Hulk, the FF) and genetic mutants (the X-mutants).

    In trying to justify the Skrulls’ supposedly undetectable impersonations, Bendis claims that sleeper Skrulls are so similar to the human originals that nothing can detect them, but he avoids metaphysics (magic), brain function differences, and, of course, their vulnerability to any tests involving tissue samples.

    Perhaps the worst flaw in the storyline is the handling of Galactus. Given the timing of events, it was practically impossible for the Skrulls *not* to know about Galactus, (even as early as AVENGERS #133) so the prophecies and religious angle are irrelevant. The Skrulls are supposed to be aliens, but Bendis relies on a mix of Greek mythology and Biblical-style talk about a promised land.

    Generally, it appears that reviewers aren’t reading the dialogue closely enough to recognize Bendis’s mistakes with word usage, or don’t have vocabularies sophisticated enough to recognize them. They might also have the commonly-seen attitude that plots in superhero comics are basically junk.


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