Brian Bendis writes my fanfiction.
I don’t keep it a secret, really, that I spent a lot of time writing fanfiction. And my second favorite type of fanfiction is what’s called “curtainfic.” In which two characters go pick out curtains, or something. Domestic stories about characters normally seen in non-domestic situations and plots, you understand? (If the characters spend the canon standing around talking about their feelings, I want to see fic of them fighting the zombie apocalypse. If they normally fight the zombie apocalypse, I want to see them at a baby shower. That’s just how I roll.) Some of my favorite moments in writing fanfiction involved trademarked superheroes I won’t name here trying to raise kids together, or buying cars, or getting a job, or finding themselves suddenly in-laws to a former archnemesis.
So when I say Bendis writes my fanfiction, I am trying to explain that issue #7 of the New Avengers is the comic I have been waiting for ever since the X-Men stopped playing baseball behind the mansion.
This issue deals with a number of lingering issues that have needed resolving for nearly a year (Marvel-verse time.) How do these people get the money to eat? Where does Dani Cage- Jones go for her vaccinations? What is Victoria Hand doing on this team? How does Spider-Man get paid? And, above all, who is going to be Dani’s nanny? Because, you know, Jess is gonna stab somebody if she doesn’t get help. Likely Luke. And Spider-Man and Logan are really only so-so at the kid care.
I am not going to reveal what happens in the comic. I am not going to tell all the funny jokes, because, really, half the joke is in Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger’s art. Bendis may write the jokes, but half the funny is in the look on the other character’s face. And that look is amply provided by the art. And if I tell you the jokes it won’t have half the impact of reading the sly set-ups, the comedic timing, and the perfectly in-character speeches and reactions of these people.
These characters, they are people. This is the sort of issue that makes the stakes real. If the Avengers just fight mission after mission, I don’t really give a hoot about them. It’s the human moments of family and rebuilding, of friendship and love, that make the stakes high enough for me to care. Without issues like this it doesn’t matter if the characters live or die. But with this as a background I believe their fear and grief. With this as a background I believe that they fight for each other and rescue each other, I believe that they do stupid things to save each other. The high dramatic stakes don’t come from Galactus showing up outside the orbit of the moon. The stakes come from a family that loves each other suddenly at risk.
It’s almost an afterthought to say that of the ten New Avengers, four are women — Carol Danvers, Bobbi Morse, Jessica Jones, and Victoria Hand. And the nanny is female as well. One character, Bendis creation Victoria Hand, is not heterosexual. Only two characters are people of color, Luke Cage and Wong, which is a problem stemming from the nature of Marvel’s legacy characters. But one of them has a multiracial kid who is absolutely a character in the comic despite being an infant, and I credit Bendis (again) for that. It’s almost an afterthought to say that, but it’s still important to say. This comic passes the Bechdel test substantively every issue. And Luke Cage is the team leader.
I also should not fail to mention the colors by Laura Martin and the lettering by Joe Caramagna. There’s a trend in a lot of Marvel titles right now for muddy, dirty-looking coloring. I really dislike that. Laura Martin consistently does the opposite of that, brightening and clarifying the inked pages she colors. Shadows draw the eye to characters’ faces, to the center of the action. Everything is crisp. And Caramagna’s lettering adds to the timing of all the little moments and big jokes. Like Immonen and von Grawbadger’s indispensible reaction shots, the funny wouldn’t work if the timing was off. And the timing is in the pacing of the word balloons. When you read this issue — and you should read it — look at the pauses, the little asides, the way the dialog flows within each page. It’s pretty damn genius from a pretty damn genius team.
I loved this issue. I love this comic. The New Avengers are my Avengers, the ones I started with right after Disassembled. They delighted me from the beginning and they haven’t let me down. Thank you, Bendis, Immonen, von Grawbadger, Martin, and Caramagna, for bringing me the curtainfic of my imagination.
Email: sigrid @ fantasticfangirls.org