This article was originally published at Comics Bulletin on March 8, 2016.
A couple of weeks ago we tooks a look at Marvel Comics’ current lineup of X-Men comics reviewing each of the five significant titles (Extraordinary X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, All-New X-Men, Old Man Logan, and All-New Wolverine). This was written under the nominal excuse of discovering whether Marvel really planned to cancel the line. That’s all a bunch of rumor mongering nonsense from comics clickbaits sites though. In actuality it was a way to review a series of titles and perform a “checkup” on the health of a brand.
This week we will be setting Chase Magnett on another assessment of Marvel mainstream titles. However, this time he’ll be taking a look at those with the greatest connection to Marvel Studios: The Avengers. So how are the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes performing? Are they involved in quality comics or putting out the same saddening mediocrity we observed in the X-line? Stay tuned to find out.
New Avengers #7
Written by Al Ewing
Art by J. Cassara
Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters by Joe Caramagna
New Avengers #7 provides readers a reprieve from the very large team’s antics, opting to focus on two of its less popular characters and the increasing threat of the series “big bad”. Power Man and White Tiger find themself relaxing in Italy after a mission when confronted by the less alturistic former incarnation of the White Tiger, freshly released and empowered by The Make (a.k.a. evil Reed Richards). It’s a combination of character focused detour and plot-forwarding exposition that combine to form an entertaining, if slight, issue.
If you are not alrady invested in Power Man, White Tiger, or their on again, off again relationship, New Avengers #7isn’t likely to change that. More attention is paid to the power sets of these two characters than what defines them or their relationships. They’re both clearly heroic and not over one another, but those sentiments could probably be applied to a majority of masked individuals in comics today (alternating who they’re not over, of course). It’s a generic pairing in many ways with no reason to care whether or not they wind up together or even show up in New Avengers #8. Their powers provide a different story though.
Cassara highlights the supernaturally enhanced martial abilities of the White Tigers in a manner that is much more visually compelling than glowing eyes and standard physical combat. The choice to show the Tiger deity held in their totems provides a sense of power to this encounter between two individuals. Cassara makes the deities as big as the page will contain too, towering over people and streets with fangs and heads that border upon being cartoonish. The description of these creatures as humanity’s first great feat is entirely believable here.
Writer Al Ewing has a knack for making ill-defined superpowers engaging and finding interesting new ways to address them in action sequences. The interaction between the two deities is excellent, but the most interesting moment occurs between Power Man and White Tiger. The concept of a knowledge-driven fighter is something that could easily devolve into a plot-powered pair of fists. Ewing addresses the manner in which Power Man absorbs the chi of his environment here in a way that makes sense and adds depth and consequence to what he can do. His minor involvement in the fight is played down in the pages with a nosebleed and swaying, making a sense of sickness more believable.
The Maker himself adds plenty of ideas to the pages, acting as a whimsical, evil narrator. Ewing has placed him in a role where it makes perfect sense for him to explain things as a narcissistic know-it-all surrounded by mewling servants. The humor present in his words makes this exposition even more enjoyable too. Its his final appearance in the issue that makes New Avengers appear like a series worth watching with some attention moving forward though. It’s a cliffhanger that provides excitement for where things will go next and gives Cassara another opportunity to design menace into a splash page.
It’s unlikely that someone looking for depth and advancement of character will walk away from New Avengers #6pleased, but that’s hardly the focus of what is a small, character-focused issue only on its surface. Instead this installment continues to rely heavily on high-concept, high-exposition plotting something that Ewing excels at in the Marvel Universe and that his collaborators display in an exciting manner here. As a superhero book focused on intriguing superpowers and weird science, New Avengers #6 provides a fine distraction and services the ongoing narrative of this odd group of masked heroes.