Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis

Artist:  Stuart Immonen

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Price:  $3.99

Previously:  A series of demonic possessions of the most powerful mystical figures in the Marvel universe has given way to a full-scale dimensional invasion.  The invasion comes to a head when the Avengers discover that the once-great former Sorcerer Supreme, Agamotto, needs his enchanted eye back to protect him from the other members of the mystical Vishanti.  Current Sorcerer Supreme, Dr Voodoo, declares a contest with Agamotto to decide who would retain the eye.  The Avengers decide to send a mystically powered up Wolverine as their challenger.  Meanwhile, Daniel Drumm, Voodoo’s brother’s spirit, is wandering lost inside Agamotto’s light dimension.

One of the best thing about Brian Michael Bendis’ work is how he takes second and third tier Marvel heroes and builds them up.  He fleshes out their characters and makes them real and interesting so that you don’t care that the pre-eminent super hero team in the Marvel universe is made up of the big guns (Spider-Man, Wolverine, etc) and also-rans because it doesn’t feel like that.

“We combined all our knowledge to give you all that we have.” –Dr Voodoo

As the first arc of the New Avengers wraps up, the chemistry of the team is still coming together.  There are a lot of character voices to juggle and it’s hard not to feel like they all sound like Brian Michael Bendis talking heads.  All of the action flows through Wolverine as he faces down Agamotto (who uses images from Wolverine’s past against him).  If there’s a constant nit to Bendis’ run on the Avengers it revolves around whether or not he lets the iconic nature of characters he’s using do the heavy lifting of the story he’s trying to tell as well as the characterization.  For example, Wolverine gets to be “Wolverine” rather than be explored as a character.

Stuart Immonen’s art is amazing.  The fight scenes felt like movie posters filled with a dynamism that propelled the story line even more so than the actual scripting.  It was the equivalent of a popcorn movie spectacle.

“This is a battle of spiritual integrity.” –Agamatto

We often end up fighting our spiritual battles both alone and with the support of community.  We have our struggles, our battles, our weaknesses, our (inner) demons and our culture teaches us that ultimately we are alone in fighting those fights.  Yet, we don’t have to be.  There is strength in numbers and unity.  A community of like minded folks can support and join in your battles with you.  Wholeness can be found in continuing your battles, despite the occasional setbacks, as that community speak wholeness, life, hope, faith and love into each other’s lives.  Darkness may win some battles, but light wins the war. Justice is real, if sometimes slow in coming. Love, true love, forgives, heals, and triumphs. And humanity can find redemption.

It only seems like Brian Michael Bendis is writing the whole Marvel universe. The climactic death scene didn’t quite work for me.  For one, the action was muddled, but more importantly, as a reader I felt short-changed.  I felt cheated out of a character who still needed to be explored.  Still, he has to be commended for turning the Avengers into a top selling book.  Plus, I love the oral history of the Avengers supplement.