New Avengers #8 — Bendis/Acuña — March ’11/Marvel Comics

[You may have noticed that the Monkey has a new category. I hope to be able throw down my two cents on comics that have tickled my fancy (or completely pissed me off) in a more-or-less timely fashion. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Blue Moon Comics in Novato, which is the best shop in the North Bay. Go check ’em out if you find yourself in or around northern Marin. Do it. No, do it.]

First up, a new artist, Daniel Acuña, is joining Brian Michael Bendis on Marvel’s New Avengers for March. Bendis is continuing his lucky run as scribe for half the Avengers books out there (Avengers and New Avengers), and relative newcomer Acuña is taking over for Stuart Immonen who had been drawing the misfit Avenger team from Vol. 1, #55 through the post-Siege Heroic Age re-launch.

After defecting to Marvel from DC, Acuña was featured in a special Young Guns ’09 sketchbook and has been kept busy doing covers as well as the latest incarnation of Jack Kirby’s Eternals. His painterly technique provides a unique look and could really work with this title. I hope that Marvel brings him back after the upcoming Nick Fury arc to be drawn by Mike Deodato and Howard Chaykin.

As pretty as this book is, it is Bendis who really gets a chance to shine in this stand-alone, dialogue-driven story. The relationship between Luke Cage (Power Man) and his wife Jessica Jones (Power Woman?) is the heart of this mishmash of a team. The story opens with the two of them enjoying a rare night out and bantering back and forth whether or not Jones is going to re-don her costume and become a full-time Avenger.

Just how cool of a character Cage is becomes evident when two hero-struck women invite him out on the town as he waits for his wife. Jones comes in and catches the tail end of the exchange as Cage gives all the right answers. When Jones comments on it, he replies, “Not my first rodeo.”

Jones goes on to kid Cage as to how she saved him. “What a horrible life you used to lead … skank ho after skank ho …”

Without missing a beat, Cage parries, “Thank you for saving me. It was awful.” It’s here that Acuña’s art effectively shows a side of perennial bad ass Power Man that we don’t usually get to see.

Oh, and then a Doombot falls to earth and a fair amount of punching ensues. I do likes me some punching.

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