Friday, January 7, 2011

The Avengers #8

Avengers 8 features the return of the Illuminati in a story without name by Brian Michael Bendis and artist John Romita Jr.  Trying to solve the mystery of who beat the Red Hulk to a pulp, Iron Man brings the Illuminati together one more time.

The members of the secret group meet in an abandoned warehouse, not before welcoming an interim member, Queen Medusa, who shows up unexpectedly in place of her deceased husband Black Bolt.  Iron Man and his companions explain to the Inhuman that years ago each took one of the Infinity Gems to “protect them” and now two seem to be missing.  FYI Brian Michael Bendis, if Tony Stark's technology were that good, it would have identified Medusa as Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon, not "Alias: None."

Flashback to the end of issue 7 when the Red Hulk crashes wounded in Avenger’s tower and tells the heroes his encounter with the strange man who kicked his butt.  After hearing the story, Iron Man left quickly without giving any explanations, and a suspicious Steve Rogers asked Maria Hill to track him.  Tony Stark doesn’t realize that as he is gathering the Illuminati, he is being followed by his fellow Avengers.  End of flashback.

Medusa and Lockjaw take the Illuminati to the Himalayas, where the city of Attilan used to be, and once there, they confirm that Reed Richards’ gem is not the only one missing but Black Bolt’s as well.  And more bad news for Stark and his posse:  The New, Secret, and Regular Avengers arrive in the Himalayas to ask for an explanation.  To be continued.

Medusa joins the Illuminati
It is great seeing Medusa interacting with the heroes back on Earth once again.  It seems no one had brought news from Shi’ar space about Black Bolt’s death, and Xavier might not even know of Lilandra’s assassination either (all this happened during "War of Kings").  Speaking of Xavier, it is in this issue -of all places- that I realize how irrelevant he has become; it’s been years since he did anything of significance; it’s like big stuff about him happens only when people think he is dead.

Other than the Illuminati’s reunion, I didn’t care for this issue.  I never collected any stories involving the Infinity gems, so I cannot tell whether the arrangement the Illuminati made is a believable retcon.  The story was such a quick read, in big part because there was very little to read.  The art by John Romita Jr. was a bit better than in the first seven issues, but still a shadow of his previous work on other titles.  He seems to be struggling with big group settings, and his interpretation of Spider Woman makes me want to scream.

Overall, Avengers 8 is another forgettable issue, with too many pages that had no dialog or captions whatsoever, and one more example of why decompressed writing is a bad thing.  The cliffhanger might lead to something interesting since it’s the first time all three teams of avengers are together since the relaunch, but I am not holding my breath.

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