Avengers Assemble: Forgeries of Jealousy

18948757Avengers Assemble: Forgeries of Jealousy

Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Warren Ellis

Artist: Matteo Buffagni

Publish Date: 2014

Genre: Comic

Rating: B

Kelly Sue DeConnick is quickly becoming one of my favorite comic writers out there. It’s pretty much gotten to the point where if I see her name on it, I’ll pick it up even if its a comic series I normally wouldn’t be interested in. However, Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy had an overly fluffy tone to it that I normally don’t find in DeConnick’s work. You don’t need to have read any of the previous volumes of the Avengers Assemble run to follow what’s going on here.

After her social studies teacher goes missing, Spider-Girl seeks out the Avengers for help in locating him. Since all of them are busy, most of the team take turns helping Spider-Girl out and in the process finds out that the situation is more severe than just a single MIA teacher. With a plot like that and the overall wish-fulfillment tone of Spider-Girls interactions with the Avengers, I’m thinking this book was meant to be geared toward teenage girls. If it was, then I would assume it’s fairly successful at it as Spider-Girl acts as a good self-insert character for that audience. Reading this as an adult, I think if I had picked it up as a first year in high school I would’ve enjoyed it more. But I do think it did a good job of not completely alienating it’s already present fan-base by pandering too much to one audience. However, compared to the previous volume of Avenger’s Assemble that DeConnick wrote, this was extremely lack luster. Dynamic characters and interesting plots were pushed aside to drag Spider-girl into the mix and have her gallivanting around with Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Iron Man, etc. Also, DeConnick seems to really love her some spider based superheroes because this run is starting to get bogged down with them. Spiderman has made occasional cameos, Spider-Woman is a staple to the group, and now we have Spider-Girl squeezing in. It get boring and a little annoying when too many superheros with similar powers are clustered together like this.

All in all, this volume was extremely fluffy but not bad. If you’re looking for something light-weight to read or want to give something to your teenage niece who’s a fan of the Avengers movie then I would recommend this.

Spoilers: Black Widow: Name of the Rose

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Black Widow: Name of the Rose

Author: Marjorie M. Liu

Illustrator: Daniel Acuña

Publish Date: 2010

Genre: Comic

Rating: B

***Following Review Contains Spoilers***

I’m a huge fan of Marjorie M. Liu’s novels, so I was excited to see how her writing would translate into comics. While I generally enjoyed Black Widow: The Name of the Rose, I was disappointed with the direction the plot took and on the fence about how Liu chose to depict Natasha.

What I was most disappointed with was how easily I was able to predict what would happen throughout the story once Natasha was attacked on the street. When Natasha started alluding to more than one thing being taken from her, I knew that a baby would be worked in somehow. Despite suspecting this, it was still a huge let down when the baby came into the story as one of things motivating Natasha. It’s such an overused motivator for female heroines and I really wish that Liu would’ve went another direction.

The dead baby and dead husband motivators for revenge also felt like it took something away from Natasha’s character. Like they were trying to soften her up and make her more sympathetic to the audience. While this isn’t a bad thing, they did it in a way that was well worn territory. The interesting thing about Black Widow is that she’s rather morally ambiguous and has a lot of unsavory things in her past that she may or may not be trying to atone for. Giving her a purely moral reason to go after Imus, the villain, felt like a cope out on the character. I will admit, however, that this is the first time I’ve read something where her character is the main focus. So, maybe I’m wrong about her.

None the less, this still would’ve been a much more engaging story if Natasha had actually been forced to deal with the ramifications of her less than admirable actions. After all, despite her admitting she is rather happy in her current life, she still chose to keep a wireless device updated with information on everyone she comes across. Why would she choose to keep something like that updated? Why would she especially decide to keep it updated with information on her friends? Shouldn’t it have done something to her relationship with the people in her life to know that she had been keeping tabs on them? What does that say about her thought process and her ideas of the future? Why is everyone on the Avengers just like, “Yup. That’s Natasha. Oh well.”? Why is the only person who is threatened enough that they attack her Electra? And even then the woman just walks away after smacking Natasha around a bit. This was all extremely frustrating because these questions and motivations got pushed aside in favor of the dead baby and husband plot line. Yes, its kept hidden for most of the story that this is what is driving her but I’m willing to bet most people will have that aspect figured out long before the actual reveal.

Despite this, the story managed to keep me engaged the entire time. I just wish that Liu had chosen to concentrate on a different motivator for Natasha and given more gravity/attention to the fact that Black Widow was suddenly enemy number one.

As for Liu’s depiction of Black Widow, I’m honestly undecided. I liked the brief moments where she showed Natasha as cunning and merciless but sometimes the character just felt off for me. I did however enjoy the way she wrote Wolverine and the other few Avengers we saw.

Also, Daniel Acuna’s art work is just wonderful here. This was one of the most consistently well drawn volumes I’ve read in a while.
Overall, I enjoyed this enough that I’ll eventually pick-up X-23, Vol. 1: The Killing Dream by Liu in the future.