It’s always a welcome sight to open a comic and find Howard Chaykin’s art gracing its pages. With Mike Deodato, Chaykin draws part of “New Avengers” #9, showing some of Nick Fury’s activities in the late ‘50s as a Nazi hunter. Because, let’s face it, ‘Nick Fury, Nazi Hunter’ is a comic book everyone would buy in an instant, especially if Chaykin was providing the art. The contrasting styles of art lend a conflict to the comic, an interplay that makes it a more dynamic read. Unfortunately, it’s also a set-up issue where Bendis’s writing feels empty and mechanical. This is a necessary comic for its story arc, but not one that works entirely on its own.
Switching between 1959 Cuba and the present day, we’re presented with Nick Fury hunting Nazis and the Avengers on a stakeout at a warehouse where the remnants of HAMMER are amassing their forces under the guidance of Superia. The Fury scenes are interesting only because of Chaykin’s art and as an abstract idea. The Avengers scenes work more, with Bendis throwing a lot of little bits of funny dialogue and conflict between the team members as they debate what to do about the bad guys who haven’t actually done anything wrong yet. The Thing’s solution is a case of lateral thinking and quite direct.
Since the broader plot isn’t apparent, Bendis’ character work is what drives a lot of the comic. Luke Cage insists that they take down the bad guys just because, while the rest say they need to wait. Danny Rand gets made fun of because he doesn’t know how to drive (“I live in New York or in the magical city of K’un Lun.”) The best moment has to be Luke Cage saying, “Eh. Screw it” when the truck he needs to drive has no keys and he simply picks it up. There’s a nice lighthearted thread running through the Avengers’ interaction that make the more serious moments, like the cliffhanger for that part of the comic, hit that much harder.
It’s a little odd seeing the art of Chaykin and Deodato side by side. Chaykin is all square jaws and mood and movement, while Deodato is shadows and attitude and fake realism. They seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, especially with the differing color style applied to their work. Beredo’s overpowering colors on Deodato’s art are more apparent here than they have been in “Secret Avengers,” sometimes for good and often for bad. The textures of characters in the same panel are often so different that they don’t look like they belong together. At the same time, a big shot of the Thing is absolutely stunning in its textures and line work, giving him a really gritty, rocky look. For all of the movement in Deodato’s scenes, though, his characters usually look lifeless and static, so posed that it’s hard to imagine them as anything except two-dimensional drawings.
This is in contrast to Chaykin’s drawings where there’s an obvious staged element that comes across as natural. His characters exude a certain coolness that, of course, Fury, Dum Dum, and Gabe would stand around like that. They’re huntin’ Nazis! That’s what you do! The attitude that Chaykin’s characters get across makes their poses look natural and organic. Edgar Delgado’s colors work with Chaykin’s art to emphasize certain objects and figures, usually creating a singular color tone for the scenes, allowing the emphasized objects and figures to pop out. It helps show what we should focus on and establish the mood of the scene.
The larger picture of this “New Avengers” arc isn’t entirely apparent by the end of the issue, but there are enough interesting moments and some great art to carry the day. The teases of what this arc could be about are interesting, especially the cover for issue 10. As far as a set-up issue goes, it’s effective and, hopefully, should read better as part of the whole.