There’s a storytelling tendency in comics that’s come into vogue sometime during the last decade that’s driving me absolutely nuts: the need to explain every little detail. It’s not enough to tell a story anymore; everything that leads into a story must be examined and explained even if there’s no point beyond the explanation existing. Brian Michael Bendis does this from time to time, the most notable example being those retched “Secret Invasion” issues of “New Avengers” and “Mighty Avengers” that detailed how every Skrull infiltrated Earth. The stories were unnecessary and rarely interesting, because we could all fill in the gaps after the point in time someone was replaced was revealed. Something similar happens in “New Avengers” #18, where Norman Osborn recruits his new Dark Avengers.
The first 18 pages of this comic reveal little of importance and are tedious to read. The final two pages where we see the roster of the new Dark Avengers in their ‘hero’ costumes are all that’s needed.
When you see Skaar as Osborn’s answer to the Red Hulk, how Osborn went to the Savage Land and offered Skaar a spot isn’t necessary. It’s so obvious that actually showing it happen is redundant. And that’s the entire comic. One redundant scene after another where Norman Osborn says “Hey, wanna be one of my Avengers?” and someone shrugs and responds “Sure, why not.” No motives revealed, no insights gained, mostly because there are none. These are villains that want to take down the Avengers: their motives are apparent in their actions.
This issue could have been useful given how this roster of the Dark Avengers is comprised mostly of lesser known characters or recent creations. Just looking at a picture of the roster doesn’t immediately tell you who everyone is. The scenes where they get recruited don’t do that either, though. We learn their names, maybe their powers, and nothing else. These are piss poor, insufficient introductions in an issue that’s comprised completely of introductions!
The continued evolution of Mike Deodato’s line work is the sole point of interest in this comic (up until those final two pages). His line work is both finer and more exact, and sketchier in places. His use of crosshatching adds more depth to the characters in a way that simple blacks don’t; the Tommy Lee Jones influence in his depiction of Norman Osborn remains, but the finer lines help soften the likeness to a degree. His collaboration with colorist Rain Beredo also continues to evolve. In the past, Beredo’s colors overwhelmed Deodato’s art and, now, they complement it much more. There are still places where things look too artificial, but the overall effect is much more natural.
If you skip to the end of this comic, you’ll see all you need to: the new Dark Avengers. How Norman Osborn recruits them is unnecessary and is a waste of space in this comic. Aside from names, none of the characters are introduced and none join for any reason other than wanting to help Osborn take down the Avengers. Adding names above each character on those final two pages would have accomplished the exact same thing that the previous 18 pages did. This is a tedious comic that betrays one of the worst tendencies in Bendis’s storytelling style.