Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mighty Avengers #16 Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Khoi Pham

The Avengers books have done a good job of setting the background for the Secret Invasion crossover. By and large, in fact, they have been better than the main series itself, which has been crippled by Bendis's inability to tell the difference between a premise and a story. The Avengers books, on the other hand, have explained to us how things as we believed them were not how they appeared for the last three years, and brought us up to speed on the excellent premise of the Secret Invasion story.

This book, however, fails even as an interesting contribution to the premise. For one thing, this book is about Elektra's abduction or possible murder. Elektra is not an Avenger. She's the usually-dead former girlfriend of a former Avenger, an Avenger, who I might add, who was on the New Avengers team, not this one. Perhaps one might justify this as being an explanation of what led to the Skrully Elektra, but that also was a story in the New Avengers. There's really no justification for this story being in the Mighty Avengers book. Last issue, we were finding out about what happened to Sentry, and that story is not remotely mentioned here, perhaps because Bendis doesn't want to accidently push forward his Secret Invasion story, since he is already have trouble stretching his weak story over eight issues.

However, even a random, unrelated character would be worth reading about if it were a worthwhile story. This story, however, is terribly told. For one thing, the Skrulls don't use actually use any trickery. This is what makes them scary. They could be anyone. However, they are very unlikely to be Elektra's clone dressed in a purple outfit, since Elektra is already pretty sure that she is herself. When Pym was kidnapped, it was after being seduced by a "graduate student" at a conference. This was both a suitable Skrull ploy and played well on Pym's weaknesses. On the other hand, Mighty Avengers #16 was just a fight against a bunch of Skrulls. The end.

Well, not quite the end. Elektra has to kill a Hydra member and then a Hand member to take over the Hand. The end. What we lack in this story, though, is any reinterpretation of events to which we were familiar. Elektra took over the Hand, but that happened offpanel, and her two fights to the death are uninspired. Compare this to Skrull Pym's giving of a new growth formula to Janet, and you can see how an old scene can be truly creepy when scene from a different perspective. The scenes with Elektra all fall flat.

To date this has been the weakest of the Avengers Secret Invasion tie-ins. It represents a real danger of thinking that somehow a book, just because it is has a Secret Invasion header, need have no connection with the characters it is supposed to be about. I hope this doesn't represent a trend.


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