Review of New Avengers #16

by Sep 18, 2011Ongoing Reviews11 comments

I’ll admit it. I’ve put off writing this review. My procrastination tendencies are obvious since I just spent two and a half hours vacuuming a one bedroom apartment (I have two furry cats, but still) before forcing myself to sit down and write this.

So, what’s the problem you ask? Well, as you all know, I was less than enthusiastic when I heard that Daredevil was going to join the New Avengers. At the same time, I was also less than enthusiastic to see Brian Michael Bendis – whose own run on the character was top-notch, no doubt about that – write Daredevil again. I haven’t been thrilled with what I’ve read of Bendis’s work over the last couple of years (due in part to my worsening allergy to what is known throughout comic book fandom as “Bendis speak”).

This doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting that Brian Michael Bendis is a bad writer – he’s not – or that Daredevil joining the Avengers is just a terrible idea. What it does mean, however, is that I’m not the best person to review this comic since I’m approaching this issue with so many prejudices that I simply can’t do it fairly. If I didn’t run a Daredevil site, where this review is more or less expected of me, I wouldn’t be writing it. To be clear, I didn’t dislike New Avengers #16. I even think it had some nice scenes in it. I’m just not any more enthusiastic now than I was before reading it about Daredevil joining the Avengers.

So, with this lengthy disclaimer (at least I think that’s what it was) out of the way, let’s get to the issue itself.

Daredevil arrives at the Avengers' mansion, from Daredevil #16, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

The entire issue is told in backflashes, framed by a scene of the various members of the team narrating the events in the present. During their conversation, the theme of who deserves to be an Avenger or what being an Avenger really means forms the common thread. I do like the idea of this, though I feel the delivery could have been a bit smoother. It reads more like people making overly self-aware statements than a natural conversation.

Daredevil spends most of the issue fighting the nasty Nazi robots introduced by the Fear Itself event against which this story is set. When he sees the Avengers Tower fall to the ground, he realizes that the Avengers Mansion is also in danger and that Luke and Jessica’s baby girl Danielle might be there even though her parents are not. Acting on this impulse, he rushes to save the baby and their nanny Squirrel Girl. I like the more human direction that this story takes when Matt saves the baby and how this provides the impetus for Luke to offer him membership in the Avengers.

What I’m not so thrilled about is the magnitude of the fight against the robots which sees Daredevil jump around and control the scene on his own in a way that I don’t think fits any relatively low-powered character. Though I know lots of fans loved seeing Matt go up against what looked like dozens of Yakuza during Bendis’s Daredevil run, I’m more skeptical of his efforts to bring home just how “bad ass” Daredevil is by exaggerating (in my opinion) his abilities, whether as a fighter or in the ways Daredevil’s senses are used. I think there are better ways to show off Daredevil’s skill set without going over the top.

Daredevil gets his Avengers card, from New Avengers #16, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

The scene in which Daredevil meets with Luke and Jessica and receives his Avengers card is probably my favorite. It feels genuine and relatable and it handles the aftermath of Shadowland well. This is one past plot thread that I’d rather see handled in the New Avengers than in Daredevil because it makes sense for Matt to work this through together with his super-powered allies.

The art by Mike Deodato is generally pretty good and easy to follow and he handles the big splash pages well. However, there are some scenes where the poses look a little odd and I personally prefer a slightly leaner look for Daredevil.

All in all, this is an okay issue of New Avengers (and certainly better than the ones that made me drop the title a few issues back) which provides a logical way for Daredevil to make his way back into his superhero family, but I’m not yet feeling any real enthusiasm for this new direction in Daredevil’s life. We’ll have to see if Bendis will be able to convince me otherwise in the months to come.


  1. Steve

    Couldn’t agree with you more Christine on all points. We both commented on DD using the massive gun when you posted the preview pages, and I’m just as put off by it now as I was then. And besides, does DD really have to be a member of a group just to prove that he’s himself again? I guess I’ll buy New Avengers as long as Daredevil’s in it, but I sure hope it gets better.

  2. Robert

    Yeah, that was pretty much mediocre at the very best. I tried to give Bendis a chance here, but wow. This issue illustrates why characters like DD and Batman really shouldn’t be on the teams fighting large threats. Whenever DD or Bats go up against an army of giant robots or an alien god and come out without a scratch it makes it look absurd when they get KO’ed by some thug in their own book. I was hoping from the preview pages that it was just one or two robots that Matt took out with the gun in a bad “homage” to Born Again, but nope he takes on literally an army of giant gun toting robots like he’s Superman. I’m one of the guys who love that scene you reference in Bendis run where he takes on all the Yakuza. Matt Murdock vs lots of normal people with weapons is believable, and he kind of ended up shot, stabbed, and beaten to hell during that fight. This issue was ridiculous. I bought this issue cause I told my buddy to hold me a copy cause i was curious, but I won’t be buying #17.

  3. Bee Clayton

    Nitpick #7 – if they know Matt is DD, that he’s blind, that he has acute senses & physical abilities, why put braille on his Avengers membership card? A sympathy nod to the handicapped on the team?

    I still don’t agree with this. I like the idea of DD being an Avenger but not in this manner. (Taking out Nazi robots with ease, eh? Who needs a demon to possess him then?) Bendis writing this makes it worse. (I’ve never been, nor ever will be, a devout follower of Bendis, much in the same vein as I don’t worship at the altar of Geoff Johns) I’ll stick with Waid in his regular title, thank you.

  4. AP

    I agree on all points Christine, especially on the leaner DD. He’s a gymnast, not a bodybuilder! Some nice sentiments are expressed, but it all still felt off to me. I didn’t dislike the issue, but it’s definitely mediocre at best, especially compared to what Waid and company are doing. My hope is that people that don’t normally read DD will take a look at the regular DD title after picking New Avengers #16 up and see how great the character is when produced by a creative team that truly understands and embraces everything that makes him uniquie.

  5. Aaron K.

    I can’t remember the last Bendis comic I read during which I didn’t think, “WTF?” at least once. Somebody at Marvel needs to write a Daredevil manual: what Matt Murdock can and can’t do. If he finds himself deafened such that he can hardly move when many machine guns are shot at him inside a truck, it seems unlikely he can pick up and fire a gigantic machine gun without ear protection, or even stand next to giant killer robots with jet exhausts. (How did that gun even work? Did he jury rig a firing mechanism?) If the Avengers lose to dozens of killer death robots, Daredevil doesn’t win. Am I to believe that the U.S. military is less successful shooting killer death robots with bullets than Daredevil is when throwing sticks? Is there anything Matt cannot detect with radar sense?

    @Bee – I hadn’t noticed the Braille until you mentioned it. They’d better hope he doesn’t misplace that card or else his secret identity will be *really* exposed.

  6. Bill

    I hate the “downplay” DD’s powers and abilities but this seemed like the opposite extreme to move him from “street-level” to “Avenger-level.” One or two giant robots, showing how DD would use has senses to find weak spots or something would have been enough.

    On the other hand Matt has been due for an epic winning moment (like walking away from some smashed giant robots in triumph). I love the Cage family warmth. I also liked the “run to the rescue” moment. That is very Matt to me.

  7. Christine

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that Daredevil should have been in waaay over his head in that fight. I actually kind of toned down how much that bothered me in the review because I didn’t want to seem too nitpicky. 😉

    Regarding the braille, I also thought about the secret identity aspect of it. He better not lose it.

  8. AP

    Being bothered by the fight sequence is far from being nitpicky. I don’t see how the fight sequence would not bother even a casual DD reader a little. But really, what did we expect? It’s a Bendis story with Giant F#$king Nazi Robots terrorizing NYC. Yeah, I see how that’s a fun idea for a comic book story, but the way DD was inserted in the story doesn’t fit with the DD we’re used to seeing. It’s a shock and greater care should have been taken not to totally overdo it. We’re looking through the lens of what DD has been since Miller came along and this is more like what DD was like back in the 60’s and 70’s multiplied by 5.

    I really don’t mind a little more superhero type stories for DD. I enjoy the 60’s and 70’s material and I do believe there is some wiggle room that will allow DD to be in both street level and more superhero type stories and avoid total absurdity. But Bendis apparently said “F#$k it, I’m going all the way baby! I’ve got DD and Giant Nazi Robots to play with and I’m pulling out all the stops!” Thing is, there was nothing about DD’s approach that shows off how he would have handled the situation differently than similar heroes. Honestly, you could have switched DD out for Cap in that sequence and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Hell, I’m just glad we weren’t subjected to DD using Bendis speak in the issue! That would have been one step too far! 😉

    Another thought: when I was looking at the fight sequence, the art and layout reminded me a little of Gene Colan. And then I thought, “Wow, I wonder what Genial Gene would have done if he were given free rein in this situation?” And then I got sad because I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have involved jury rigging a minigun and imitating Rambo. 🙁

  9. August

    I simply will not read anything which features Luke Cage.

  10. Axel

    While I can’t disagree with any points raised (#1 issue: lean vs. bodybuilder DD), I still somehow enjoyed this issue. I guess the positives outweighed the negatives for me; I was wondering why DD would join the Avengers NOW, when he’s always resisted team-playing in the past.

    I thought it was just Bendis collecting his favourite toys to play together, but they tied it in nicely with the shift in tone/direction that is going on in DD’s book… along with Cage’s quote “are the Avengers Daredevil material?”. I think I know what people mean by Bendis-speak, but I do like the ‘sitcom’ feel it can have for conversations with many characters.

  11. Eric

    Well, the way I read it, Matt mostly took over one robot to shoot the others at the mansion, no? So it wasn’t THAT incredulous.

    As a long time Matt, Bruce and Justice League fan, let me just say you get used to the street level guy standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the godlike heroes in one comic while remaining “street” in another. After a while, you kind of start to like it. 🙂


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