Graphic novel review of The New Avengers: Powerloss.
Just the other day I was writing about how superhero team books can have a middling quality, and that the quality of such books depended more on the writers and artists than having a glut of your favorite characters in the same place. I also arrived at the conclusion that, seeing as how James Robinson is mostly done with JLA, Brian Michael Bendis is undisputed as the best writer of team books currently working.*
I thought I’d go ahead and highlight then the book by him that I just recently read, The New Avengers: Powerloss. This was definitely a fun read–maybe not earth-shaking or revelatory, but it did remind me of what makes superhero books great. One of the first things I’ll have to point out is that the graphic novel’s actually cheap. The retail price is $15.99. I know that doesn’t necessarily sound cheap, but then, put it in perspective. Have you looked at how expensive graphic novels are now, especially ones by Marvel? For some reason, they insist on putting comics in hardcovers, as if to say “comics are like literature too” but I think most comic fans already think that, and don’t need to pay $10 more just for a package to prove it. At the moment, New Avengers: Powerloss is on sale at Amazon for $10.87, which is a price I can live with.
What’s interesting about this book is that it comes up with a fairly logical (or as logical as comics are) premise of a whole team of superheroes failing. It’s important for team books to once in a while show how even a team can be brought down or show weakness or practically fail. Otherwise, where’s the suspense in seeing a team of Iron Man and Thor or Wolverine and Cyclops or Batman and Superman? James Robinson not too long ago wrote a pretty good story about the JLA going through hard times with JLA: Cry For Justice. New Avengers Powerloss isn’t as bleak as that book.
Not only that, but Powerloss comes up with a reason for the good guys, pigeonholed, to ask help from the bad guys, in this case Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. I don’t want to give too much away. The thing I like most about Bendis as a writer is that he’s not afraid to channel vintage comics’ zaniness, even if it means sacrificing realism. What place does realism have anyway in a glossy comic? There’s even a funny Fantastic Voyage moment involving Doctor Strange and this guy who’s part yellow jacket or something shrinking down and entering one of the hero’s bloodstream.
The last thing I’d recommend this book for is Stuart Immonen’s penciling. Something about his art just says to me that he’s doing it right. I can’t really explain it more than that.
*Although Fables is technically a team book, it’s not about superheroes, not even the most recent storyline that claimed to be about fairy tale characters becoming superheroes.
—–Check out my book The Madness of Art: Short Stories.
If you like Powerloss, check out my overview of the entire 2004-2010 series of New Avengers.