Review: New Avengers #16

Daredevil joins the Fear Itself fight so perfectly that Iann Robinson has to eat crow.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

New Avengers #16

Boy, my detractors going to have a field day with this one. On this week’s episode of The Book Report podcast, I uttered in great defiance that I was all done with The New Avengers. I had opened issue #16 and upon seeing the multiple panels on one page, I tossed the book aside in disgust. Between my love/hate relationship with Brian Michael Bendis’s writing and being completely sick of the “reality TV” idea that’s been plaguing the New Avengers book, I figured why even bother? I read the book cover to cover today and, being big enough to eat crow when I have to, I must say that I loved it. The New Avengers #16 is probably the best issue the series has seen since the first five. Even as a tie in to the mind-numbingly bad Fear Itself, this issue still kicks ass.

Part of the excellence behind this issue is that it includes Daredevil. How do you not love anything with Daredevil in it (except Shadowland)? The other part is that Bendis tells a decidedly small and human story amongst the explosions and general Michael Bay style mayhem of Fear Itself. The book opens with the reality television camera on Hawkeye talking about what it is to be an Avenger. For the first time since the whole camera’s eye thing was introduced, it works. The second page, featuring all the Avengers, is very clever and will make any comic book fan smile. Bendis then drops us into the thick of the action, with Daredevil taking on some of Sin’s Nazi robot machines.

Bendis allows the story to unfold through the action and it works wonderfully. Watching Daredevil clean house on Nazi robots with a giant machine gun is about as kick ass as comic books get. What Bendis does is dupe you with the action.  He gets you so amped watching Daredevil unleash that you don’t see the human story coming. Then it’s there. Daredevil shows up at Avengers mansion to protect Luke Cage’s child. It’s the exact kind of thing we’ve wanted to see out of the man without fear for so long. At the end, when Luke presents Daredevil with his Avengers card, it’s almost heart warming. I also loved how Bendis ties in the final page of the book with the opening. This is a comic lovers issue, one written just for the people who miss how comics were before greed and movie millions got involved.

Another thing kicking this issue into high gear is the art from Mike Deodato. I’ve been enjoying the more lighthearted work over on the actual Daredevil series so much that I forgot how cool he is when he’s drawn with a darker flair. Deodato’s sense of movement and action is so well executed here. I also loved his panel layouts. So much movement and drama can be displayed just in how the panels are put together and Deodato takes full advantage of that. Each panel is just a tiny visceral work of art. The New Avengers #16 proved me really, really wrong and I couldn’t be happier about it.