Avengers #10 — Bendis/Romita — April ’11/Marvel Comics

[Spoilers akimbo!]
Before I get into it, I have to say right up front that I’ve never been a huge fan of John Romita Jr.’s art. I was really into Spider-Man books back in the mid-to-late’90s (sit down, you) and I sort of got used to it in that context. There is a simplicity that fits the web-slinger’s world and historical precedent with Steve Ditko as a founding father.

I originally picked up the first few issues of the Avengers reboot then dropped it. I just couldn’t get over the abrupt change from the (mostly) successful widescreen vision of the Siege crossover to what felt like a claustrophobic take on Marvel’s biggest team.

One of the things that makes me crazy is Romita’s depiction of Iron Man. He can’t seem to remember how many lights he’s supposed to draw on the armor from panel-to-panel. Sometimes there are big lights on his shoulders—then there isn’t. Sometimes four smaller lights on his chest (in addition to the all-important big one), sometimes two, sometimes six! Not a big deal in the larger scheme of things but, come on, write it down somewhere.

The reappearance of the Illuminati in Avengers #8 peaked my interest and I picked up the previous issue kicking off the new arc and featuring the superlative joy of seeing Red Hulk get punched in the face really, really hard.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis, who also writes New Avengers, seems really enamored by the villainous Parker Robbins AKA The Hood, and perhaps believing the third time’s the charm, has brought him back on a quest to collect the Infinity Gems after first losing his demonic powers on loan from Dormammu, and then the magic powers Loki gave him when he passed him the Asgardian Norn Stones.

The Hood is a gangster at heart and is more at home in a Daredevil or Punisher-type book; he has always seemed out of his depth going up against demonic/magic/cosmic forces. I can’t wait for this current overreach to slap him back down to size and hopefully put him out of play for a long time.

Although #10 is the second issue to depict The Hood wielding a complete Infinity Gauntlet on the cover, at the kick off, he only holds the Red and Yellow gems which impart Power and control Reality respectively. This issue finds itself in a holding pattern as the Avengers split up and try to retrieve the remaining gems before Robbins does.

While Namor, Thor, and Red Hulk dive to the bottom of the ocean and retrieve the Orange/Time-controlling gem, Xavier takes a team to the ruins of the School for Gifted Youngsters where they fight a Danger Room program designed to protect the Blue/Mind gem.

Iron Man and Captain Rogers, meanwhile, head to Area 51 in Roswell where Stark has hidden the Purple/Space gem only to find that Robbins has popped in ahead of them, seeing how he controls reality and all. What I don’t get is why the two heavy hitters roll 14 strong to a base that Stark owns—while three heroes are sent into the sea—and Dr. Strange’s gem, the Green/Soul gem, is still out there somewhere.

The last panel shows The Hood waiting on the shore for Thor and Red Hulk. He currently holds Power, Reality, and Space while our heroes have Time on their side. I guess I’ll ride this one out. Let the punching commence!


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