New Avengers #15

New Avengers #15

A.I.M. vs S.H.I.E.L.D vs W.H.I.S.P.E.R vs Acronyms

Al Ewing (W), Paco Medina (P), Juan Vlasco (I), Jesus Aburtov (CA)

Cover by Julian Totino Tedesco

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

          So, we’re back with the New Avengers. If I’m being honest, a part of the reason for this is that this was one of the only comics that I was able to get my hands on this week. That’s fine though. This has been a good series, and an Al Ewing book is always worth talking about.

This issue continues with the assault on Avenger Base Two by the Maker (Ultimate Reed Richards) and his New Revengers. The A.I being known as O.M.N.I.T.R.O.N.I.C.U.S has pinned down Robert da Costa in his control room, but former New Mutants ally Warlock has come to Da Costa’s rescue. The Maker himself and Skar Weapon of Mars have badly wounded P.O.D and Dr. Toni Ho is left to fend them off with a new Rescue suit (Rescue being an identity that Pepper Pots used at one point with a suit of Stark armor) that she has designed with Stark tech. The nuclear warhead launched by S.H.I.E.L.D Agent John Garrett on its way to the location of what he believes is Avengers Base Two by Songbird in interrogation. Meanwhile, Songbird, Cannonball, Power Man, and Dr. Max Brashear (the son of Blue Marvel) battle an army of Dum Dum Dugan L.M.D’s controlled by the mad Garrett. The All-New New Avengers, consisting of Hulkling, Wiccan, and Squirrel Girl come to aid their allies. The battle of the White Tigers, Ava and Angela Del Toro, comes to its conclusion.

If you’re noticing that this plot synopsis is pretty much the same as my review of New Avengers #14, you’re not the only one. While this issue did tie up some of those plot points, this climactic battle has been going on for a few issues now, and it’s starting to overstay its welcome.

That being said, this book is very good at using all of its characters amply. Ewing is a master of giving all of his cast some screen time. This is something he’s exhibited in Captain America and the Mighty Avengers and continues to show in this book and the Ultimates. Toni Ho protecting P.O.D, Ava’s battle with Angela, and Bobby da Costa teaming up with Warlock all provide good pivotal character moments for these team members.

I really enjoy Paco Medina’s artwork. A lot of modern comic book art has clear manga influence, and Medina is among the best at fusing Japanese manga art stylings with Western cartooning. This, mixed with Aburtov’s very vivid color art, result in a very gorgeous comic book. That being said, Medina draws women very, very skinny. Now, this is a fairly common thing in comic books, but there are a couple of frames where Songbird and the White Tigers look almost sickly. When Songbird first shows up in this issue, I honestly thought there was supposed to be something wrong with her.

I don’t talk about covers often, but I have really enjoyed the Tedesco covers to the Civil War II “tie-in” issues of this comic. They look really, really good, and I actually like covers that connect on the sides.

The pacing is…alright. That’s sort of the dilemma with having a climax that lasts multiple issues. There’s no rise and fall, and, in the case of this comic, you have little dips in the action that don’t really work to the book’s benefit. I know that’s sort of a staple of modern comic book stories, especially with Marvel and their constant soft reboots and crossovers that force writers to work with weird timetables, but it still harms the reading experience.

This comic is still a pretty fun read. The action is exciting and creative, the dialogue is very funny, and Al Ewing has always made the narrative inserts hilarious too. I’m not sure I can recommend to you it if you haven’t been following the story, but, if you’re looking for a quick and exciting read with a wild cast of characters, you could still have a good time reading this issue.

Final Score: 7/10

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#4: Matt Murdock, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

#4: Matt Murdock, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

Matt Murdock was 12 years old when he pushed an older man out of the way of an oncoming chemical truck. The truck skidded out of control, and it spilled its cargo. The chemicals doused Matt and got into his eyes. He was blinded, but the chemicals also enhanced his other senses and gave him something of a “radar” sense. His father and only caretaker, the boxer “Battlin’” Jack Murdock, was later killed for not being willing to throw a fight. This left Matt without a guardian until he was contacted by a man known only as Stick. Stick was also blind, but he was a martial arts master. He trained Matt intensely, and, one day, Matt returned to Hell’s Kitchen to become its protector. He became known as Daredevil, the Man Without Fear!

Matt Murdock also fought for the law in other ways. Between his leaving the hard-nosed Stick and becoming Daredevil, he studied law at Columbia University and found a legal partner in Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. This is also where he met and had a brief romantic flame with the Greek debutante, Elektra Natchios.

Alongside Foggy Nelson, Matt opened the law firm Nelson and Murdock to protect the rights of citizens. They hired a secretary named Karen Page, and she and Matt kindled a romantic relationship. He would later reveal to her his dual identity as Daredevil.

As the vigilante Daredevil, Matt quickly gained enemies. He faced such foes as the Owl, the Gladiator, Stilt-Man, the Jester, and the Circus of Crime. He also made far more deadly enemies, such as the Kingpin, the Purple Man, Bullseye, and the ancient clan of assassins known as the Hand.

He became fast friends and allies with fellow New York super hero, the Amazing Spider-Man. The two have faced down many villains together. He also gained allies in Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, the Daughters of the Dragon, and Shang Chi. He would later become rivals with the vigilante Punisher aka Frank Castle.

He also did this weird thing for a while where he pretended to be his own twin brother to help throw people off from suspecting that he might be Daredevil. This twin was named Mike. He was cocky like how Matt behaved as Daredevil. This was a far cry from Matt Murdock, who was known to be more calm, collected, and suffered from clinical depression.

After Foggy was elected district attorney and Matt’s relationship with Karen ended, Daredevil moved to San Francisco. Here, he met Natasha Romanova aka the Black Widow. The two became crime fighting partners, and they also entered a brief romantic relationship. He found a job with a law firm here and found a more sustained love in the woman named Heather Glenn, but he couldn’t stay away from New York for long.

When he returned, he opened a new law firm with Foggy Nelson, whom was unable to be reelected as district attorney. Matt was also reunited with Elektra. However, she had become an assassin trained by the Hand. She had since left the Hand, but she was still an entirely different person. She and Daredevil battled, but they came to an understanding and worked together. However, she was killed by Bullseye soon after.

She would later be resurrected through the use of magic, and she left New York.

Matt proposed to Heather Glenn, but the relationship went sour. After she left a drunken message for Matt to come save her from a fabricated threat, Matt ended things with Heather. She later killed herself. This only fed his depressive tendencies.

Karen returned to leave another impact on Matt’s life, but it was not a positive one. She had attempted to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles, but she failed. She turned to pornography, and she became addicted to heroin. In her darkest hour, she sold out Matt’s secret identity. This information found its way to the Kingpin, whom used it to start a campaign to destroy Daredevil’s life.

Despite her betrayal, Matt and Karen managed to reunite and entered a serious relationship once more. However, this was destroyed by a new foe, Typhoid Mary. Mary is a bipolar mutant with telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers. She was hired by Kingpin to torment Matt Murdock, and he cheated on Karen with her after Mary made sexual advances towards Matt.

As his life continued to spin out of control, a New York tabloid was onto his double identity. To escape this, he faked his own death, a ploy in which he left Foggy and Karen in the dark. He took on the identity of Jack Batlin (a play on his father’s boxer title).

After some time, he was able to return to the identity of Matt Murdock. His happiness was soon crushed when Karen Page was murdered by Bullseye. She left him money in her will, which she instructed Matt to use on something for himself. With this money, he rebuilt Nelson and Murdock with Foggy.

He found romance again in a deaf woman named Maya Lopez, though she was being manipulated by Kingpin. She also had special abilities (she could mimic any physical motion she sees) and skills, and she became the hero Echo. She fought Daredevil, but she was made wise to Kingpin’s game. She turned on Fisk and temporarily blinded him.

He found another romance in the blind woman named Milla Donovan. They even married. As Matt’s sanity was going downhill, she learned that it may be, in part, due to their marriage. She left him after learning this.

His identity was threatened once more when a newspaper outed him as Daredevil, which he denied. He deposed the Kingpin and aided in the containment of the Raft breakout that led to the formation of the New Avengers.

The FBI, having enough evidence to pursue Murdock, arrested him for being Daredevil. The incident left Foggy to believe that Matt had died. He was able to break out of federal prison alongside Frank Castle.

He escaped to Europe to wait for the storm to blow over, and he left the Iron Fist to play the role of Daredevil in his absence. Vanessa Fisk, the wife of the Kingpin, laid out an elaborate plan to have Matt absolved of his crimes. She was dying, and she wanted to corrupt Daredevil by having him defend her husband in court. She expected him to agree, so she enacted this scheme. He refused and turned on both Fisks. She later died, and Matt was able to return to the U.S with his identity safe once more.

He returned and reunited with Foggy and the firm. He also found Milla Donovan had been institutionalized by an old foe called Mister Fear. This further damaged Matt’s psyche. He also faced a new foe calling herself Lady Bullseye. She worked for the Hand, whom were making a resurgence in New York.

To combat this, Matt was forced to align himself with Kingpin. This shattered his friendship with Foggy, and he was fired from Franklin and Murdock. When Kingpin attempted to take control of the Hand, Daredevil stopped him. Matt Murdock then chose to become the new leader of the Hand to prevent it from causing further chaos in Hell’s Kitchen.

His leadership went as smoothly as it could at first, but Norman Osborn, then the director of the national security organization H.A.M.M.E.R, challenged his authority. He sent Bullseye, then masquerading as the Avenger Hawkeye, to antagonize Daredevil. He detonated a fully inhabited apartment building. This sent Daredevil over the edge. He reunited the five lords of the Hand, and he sent his ninja foot soldiers to take back the streets. He then built a massive castle in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen called Shadowland, equipped with its own prison.

After H.A.M.M.E.R fell and Osborn’s Dark Avengers were arrested, Bullseye managed to escape from S.H.I.E.L.D custody right in the middle of New York. Daredevil was the first to track him down. He battled the assassin briefly, but, when Daredevil acquired one of Bullseye’s own weapons, he impaled the villain for the world to see.

The Avengers decided that this was the final straw, and they charged Luke Cage and Iron Fist with ending Daredevil’s reign in Hell’s Kitchen. Meanwhile, the Hand’s activities in New York were steadily escalating. The Hand managed to seal the demon upon which their organization was founded, simply called “the Beast,” within Matt Murdock to solidify his place within the organization. The Beast corrupted Murdock’s soul and pushed his actions to further extremes.

White Tiger and Black Tarantula, two other vigilante heroes, were asked by Matt himself to keep Daredevil in check. However, White Tiger was corrupted by the Hand, and she dispatched Black Tarantula at the first opportunity. Black Tarantula barely survived the experience.

Elektra attempted to talk sense into Matt personally, but she was quickly turned to his side as well. Matt even hired longtime foe Typhoid Mary to work as his personal guard.

Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Spider-Man all attempted to talk Daredevil into dismantling Shadowland. He refused, and he and the Hand brutally beat the heroes and sent them out of the castle. In a last ditch assault, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, the Daughters of the Dragon, Moon Knight, Shang Chi, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine united to bring down Daredevil and the Hand. Iron Fist was able to use his mystical powers to expel the Beast from Matt, and they were able to dismantle the Hand from there.

Questioning his very identity, Matthew Murdock knew he couldn’t go on with the way he had been doing things. He asked T’Challa aka the Black Panther, in exile from his own kingdom, to watch over Hell’s Kitchen in his absence, and Matt Murdock went soul-searching in the American Southwest.

In a small New Mexico town, Matt still came across corruption. He brought down a drug lord by the name of Cavalera. This experience reinvigorated Matt’s will to fight for justice and the innocents. He returned to Hell’s Kitchen and relieved Black Panther of his position.

In an effort to keep himself from going down a dark road yet again, Matthew Murdock forced himself to be more optimistic and outgoing, both as Matt Murdock and as Daredevil. He was quickly approached by Steve Rogers aka Captain America, whom was concerned after the events of Shadowland. He managed to persuade the Captain to allow him to continue his work, but Rogers assured him that, if he suspected anything like Shadowland happening again, he would bring Daredevil down personally.

He reestablished his friendship with Foggy Nelson, and the two opened up Nelson and Murdock once more. He even found a new lover and coworker in a woman named Kirstin McDuffie.

Matt Murdock, at last, publicly outed himself as Daredevil in a legal struggle with the white supremacist group, the Sons of the Serpent. This complicated his life, but it also simplified how the public perceived him and his struggles for justice.

Daredevil, the Punisher, and Spider-Man cooperated once again in an effort to capture an immensely powerful piece of hardware called the Omegadrive. It was a disk containing catastrophic information on many of Earth’s heroes. The three were able to acquire it from the criminal organization called Black Spectre.

Daredevil even officially joined the New Avengers during the events of Fear Itself. He aided in their fight against the Phoenix Five during the Avengers’ war with the X-Men.

He faced many more struggles in his career as Daredevil. He battled the Klaw. He recovered his father’s remains when his cemetery was rooted out by the Mole Man. He was briefly captured by Latverian forces and experimented upon. He fought a new and deadly foe called Ikiri.

He also discovered that his closest friend, Foggy Nelson, had developed cancer. He faced many struggles in helping his friend fight this, and this was worsened by many of his old foes now targeting Foggy for his association with Daredevil. He helped Foggy fake his own death in a battle with a technologically enhanced Leap Frog, and this took the target off Foggy’s back.

After and intense battle with the Jester and the Sons of the Serpent and another battle with a revived but paralyzed Bullseye, Daredevil returned to San Francisco with Kirsten and Foggy. There, he continued his fight for justice.

He aided the children of the Purple Man to come to terms with their powers and parenthood, and this experience convinced Matt to become more open about his depression. He agreed to allow Kirsten’s father to write a biography on him. He aided the Owl, whom was being used as a human computer tower. He attempted to cooperate with the intensely unstable Shroud.

He came to another confrontation with the Kingpin, whom was connected to the scheme involving the Owl and meddling with the Shroud. Fisk hired Ikiri to bring down Daredevil, but the Shroud killed Ikiri. Daredevil was furious with the Shroud and cut off all association with the vigilante. Despite this, Daredevil was able to defeat the Kingpin once more.

In the events after Secret Wars, Daredevil has returned to New York with Foggy. He has taken on a new black costume, and he has even acquired an apprentice named Blindpost with a suit that can allow him to become invisible. Matt has also done something to remove the knowledge of his identity from the minds of the world with the exception of Foggy Nelson. The specifics of this procedure are yet to be revealed, and it is apparently a part of a plan to bring down many of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations.

Since then, he has battled the Hand yet again as well as a mysterious cult leader called Ten Fingers. He has also gotten a job in the district attorney’s office.

Matthew Murdock is a hero who has faced the very worst in life. He has loved many women, and he has lost almost all of them in very gruesome and scarring manners. He is a hero who is dedicated, above all else, to protecting his home turf of Hell’s Kitchen and has only left when felt forced.

He, like many heroes, has the credo of non-lethal force. However, he has faced some of the vilest humans like Bullseye and the Purple Man. He has a deep festering rage inside of himself that he knows he can’t allow to be free. This is complicated by his depressive tendencies. Despite this, he has still struggled to be the best guardian of his home of Hell’s Kitchen that he is capable of being. He abstains from taking a life despite these challenges (with the one exception).

This combination of qualities is what makes him such an intriguing foe for the Punisher. As Frank says in the Daredevil Netflix series, “You’re one bad day from becoming me.”

Daredevil is the troubled, committed, and endlessly engaging and relatable defender of Hell’s Kitchen, and this is what has placed him at Number 4 of my Top 10 Favorite Marvel Heroes!

 

Further Adventures of Daredevil:

Daredevil #9

 

New Avengers #14

New Avengers #14

Fight the powah

Al Ewing (W), Paco Medina (P), Juan Vlasco (I), Jesus Aburtou

Cover by: Julian Totino Tedesco

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

This is another comic I’ve wanted to talk about. It’s a unique book that continues Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Avengers World and Al Ewing’s Captain America and the Mighty Avengers.

The premise, for those who don’t know, is that, during Hickman’s run on the Avengers, Roberto Da Costa aka Sunspot, former X-Man and New Mutant, was recruited to be a part of the Avengers. During the latter issues, Da Costa, using his massive family fortune, literally bought out the Advanced Idea Mechanics organization. He rebranded it as Avengers Idea Mechanics and restructured the upper echelons of the company.

With the New Avengers, he set up his own Avengers team, consisting of Songbird, Hawkeye (who was put on as a S.H.I.E.L.D liaison), Power Man (Victor Alvarez), White Tiger, Squirrel Girl, Hulkling, Wiccan, and P.O.D (an A.I dwelling in a suit melded to a human named Aikku Jokinen). Roberto himself, weakened by Terrigen poisoning, works as the leader of the support team along with Dr. Toni Ho and Max Brashear, the son of Blue Marvel.

In the first story arc, the team challenged some power plays made by the Maker, the Reed Richards of the Ultimates Earth.

Following that (well, that and a space adventure where Hulking was crowned king of a Kree/Skrull hybrid civilization and they removed the alien god known as Moridun from Wiccan), they declared war on S.H.I.E.L.D by removing Rick Jones aka the hacktivist known as the Whisperer from their custody. Hawkeye, despite being their S.H.I.E.L.D representative, supported the decision. Squirrel Girl, Hulkling, and Wiccan were uncomfortable with the concept, so Da Costa dismissed them. Songbird was playing at being a double agent for S.H.I.E.L.D, so she supported their assault on A.I.M Island. Da Costa and his remaining Avengers evacuated to a secret base in the Savage Lands. Hawkeye was captured, but released for his previous service record. However, he is being constantly monitored by S.H.I.E.L.D, so he cannot return to A.I.M. Hawkeye, Squirrel Girl, Hulkling, and Wiccan, have split off to form their own Avengers team. Back at the ranch, Roberto Da Costa’s longtime friend Cannonball returned and is aiding Sunspot in his further exploits.

The current story, which #14 continues, picks up with unhinged S.H.I.E.L.D Agent John Garrett planning a massive assault on A.I.M. He forcibly reprograms Dum Dum Dugan’s LMD bodies to work for him. He then discovers that Songbird is a triple agent working for Da Costa, and he captures her with the aid of the Dugan LMDs. Da Costa receives the distress signal from Songbird, and he sends Cannonball, Power Man, and Max Brashear to rescue her. Meanwhile, the Maker, who has been spying on A.I.M since their first encounter, is moving forward with his plan of taking down Da Costa and his Avengers while seizing control of A.I.M. He drops a team of supervillains called the New Revengers (named after a team Wonder Man formed to settle a beef he had with the Avengers back in the Bendis days), consisting of members Paibok the Power Skrull, White Tiger’s sister Angela, Angar the Screamer, Vermin, Ansi the All-Seeing, Skar the Weapon of Mars and Omnitronicus into Da Costa’s base of operations. The Maker himself ambushes Dr. Toni Ho and P.O.D with Skar and attempts to kill them both.

This issue picks up from there, with Omnitronicus trapping Roberto in his operations room and attempting to kill him. The rest of the Maker’s Revengers drop into other parts of the base, with Angela facing down her sister personally. Elsewhere in the base, Toni Ho reveals to Richards that Roberto had been expecting this thanks to P.O.D’s scanning abilities, and she busts out an Iron Man suit reminiscent of Pepper Pots’ Rescue armor.

Cannonball, Max Brashear, and Power Man arrive at the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier where Songbird is being held. Power Man lays out a few S.H.I.E.L.D agents, and the team makes their way to Songbird. She tells them she was pressed into revealing the location of A.I.M’s new headquarters. They are subsequently ambushed by a horde of Dugan LMDs. Garrett, who is in the gunnery of the helicarrier, launches a “Weapon of Total Annihilation” at A.I.M’s Savage Lands base.

Sunspot is still holding off Omnitronicus’ laser assault and is hit. Before he can receive the kill shot, an old friend from Robert’s New Mutant days appears: Warlock.

I really dig this series, and this comic was a good continuation of the story. It’s odd, the team lineup unusual, and the whole affair very charming. I love the “fight the power” theme of the series. I’m a college student, so naturally that is going to appeal to me. Plus, well, S.H.I.E.L.D has been very shady lately in the comics.

This story has been a good one. The collision of all threats hitting A.I.M at once keeps the tension high and the story moving. The characters are all distinct and enjoyable. I particularly like Power Man’s gung-ho nature and Roberto Da Costa’s charisma.

I like the Maker as a villain for this Avengers team. His cold and calculating personality provides a good opposition for Sunspot’s optimism and energy. I also think John Garrett is a good face for S.H.I.E.L.D in this story. He’s spiteful and has an itchy trigger finger. He is a good representation for someone in power who enjoys using it too much.

Medina has only been working on the art in this story arc, but I hope he sticks around. Gerardo Sandoval has done the art on most of the series, and it has been solid. However, I love Medina’s style. He rocked The New Warriors some years back, and his flowing and cartoon-esque work fits this book.

The pacing, though it is quick, is moving the overall story very slowly. Though I’m enjoying this big crescendo to the series so far, this issue didn’t feel like it covered much ground, and the previous one had the same problem. Each issue feels like it’s moving from checkpoint to checkpoint instead of advancing an epic.

Despite those problems, this is still one of my favorite books to come out of All-New, All-Different Marvel. It’s quirky, fun, and imaginative. In terms of Al Ewing’s work, Ultimates still sits atop my Marvel throne, but this is definitely a part of the king’s court (if that metaphor makes a lick of sense). Check it out at some point. It’ll be a memorable read at the very least.

Final Score: 7/10

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