I know I've harped on about pricing of comics and page counts and other topics that deal with getting a proper return on investment for my comic book dollar, but "Avengers" #31 by Brian Bendis and Brandon Peterson truly felt like only half a read. I literally finished the issue, turned the page and exclaimed, out loud (which thankfully was in the comfort of my home), "That's it?!"
There's a lot going on here, which Bendis balances between talking heads and flying fists, but there are just two scenes depicted in Avengers #31. The first is dealing with a "mystery" character in a "mystery" location. The character has Avengers ties and the adventure she is on is not unlike the opening of the original "Star Wars" movie where a troubled young lady is on the run from obviously superior forces. The second scene is Avengers Tower where Captain America has an encounter with Wonder Man. Wonder Man comes to visit, extending an olive branch and receiving a Red Hulk in his face.
Bendis doesn't wrap up either briskly-paced narrative in this issue and it isn't until the end of the book and I went back through to see why it was such a quick read that I realized there were three spreads accounting for six pages of story. Bendis makes the most of those spreads, giving the recognizable Avengers a chance to express their humanity and packing action into a high-speed chase.
Brandon Peterson handles the chase scene packing depth, detail, texture and some uncomfortably skin-tight pants into the action. Peterson's part of this issue is quite stunning and Jason Keith colors that sequence impeccably, helping to complete the feel of a classic science fiction comic story. It's visually distinct from the ink wash-enriched coffee-drinking scene where an unmasked Steve Rogers takes in the morning news and has a chat with an old friend. The two artists' styles meld nicely, giving "Avengers" #31 readers a nice, complete visual escapade filled with comic book characters who possess expressions and movement beyond the photo-traced model frequenting today's comic books.
I'm just not sure why Marvel didn't simply hold onto the issues of "Avengers" that are going to be released over the next few weeks and make them double-sized. Readers certainly would have enjoyed a more concise read than feel strung out for the wait until "Avengers" #32. Personally, I'm antsy to get more of these stories. Additionally, this story is freestanding enough and serves as a transition from Bendis' marathon service with the Avengers into what that brand is set to become under Marvel NOW!