New Avengers #64

The Hood has been a constant presence in “New Avengers” for over half of the series’ run. To give all credit to Brian Bendis, ever since he decided that the character would take advantage of the power vacuum left by the Kingpin, Robbins has been constantly used and developed as a major antagonist.
However, I’m more interested in the Avengers than I am The Hood, so although the creative team is obviously fond of Parker Robbins, I find myself turned off by the issues that focus on him, of which this is undoubtedly one. There are some good character moments, certainly, such as Robbins dropping his confident, authoritative facade when frantically searching for Whitney amongst the rubble — and at the same time, keeping the facade in place while speaking to his business partners — but as a piece of plotting, it’s the kind of story where readers might wonder where the entertainment value is suppose to lie.
Too often, “New Avengers” has felt like merely a string of developments intended to set up a future story. In the midst of a big crossover like “Siege,” one suspects there might be a better story to tell than how The Hood and Masque escaped the rubble of Asgard. A “Siege: The Hood” one-shot, perhaps?
Throughout the issue, Bendis appears to be drawing parallels between Ronin and Mockingbird’s relationship, and the Hood and Madame Masque’s. These parallels seem to be largely visual, however, and for the Hood and Masque, the examination of their relationship feels like too little, too late. Despite all the focus on Robbins, I never understood where this development came from, nor why anyone involved thought it made sense.
The issue’s art is capably handled by Mike McKone. He’s no Stuart Immonen, but it’s hard to find a complaint beyond that. McKone is a strong all-rounder with very few deficiencies and a style that meshes well with previous “New Avengers” artists. Only Dave McCaig’s colors, fantastic as always, elicit any substantial reaction.
Indeed, that kind of lukewarm response is what typifies my relationship with “New Avengers” at the moment. It’s fine, but it doesn’t impress like I want it to. Over the course of 64 issues I’ve gone from a loyal Bendis supporter to a rather unenthusiastic (and worse, habitual) purchaser of “New Avengers.” Even on its bad days it’s good, but with the prospect of a fresh writer coming to the property for “Secret Avengers,” I’m increasingly tempted to drop “New Avengers,” and issues like this don’t do anything to convince me that’s the wrong decision.

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