Avengers #19: OK, because I'm still awash with the warm fuzzy feeling from "Spider-Island," I'll start with the good.
First, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman flirting makes me a happy camper. Seriously, I love Mockingbird, but I can't say I ever felt their relationship the way I feel Hawkeye and Spider-Woman. Something about it brings out the smart ass in Clint and an actual personality in Jessica, and I'm all for it. Second, I think the idea of recruiting old friends was a good one. The Avengers have been shaken to the core, have lost two founding members (the Wasp and Thor), and need a way to re-connect with who they were. Along those lines, Cap's scenes with T'Challa are the best in the issue, and maybe the best Bendis has written in a while. Reading them, I was excited by the prospect of him joining the team, along with some other old friends. Maybe Captain Marvel? Or Ant-Man? I was excited to see. Third, the art is great. I really dig Acuna's painted style, because it conveys a lot of emotion that you don't get with just pencils. Finally, thank freaking God that Spidey and Wolverine are no longer on both teams. Maybe I can almost tell apart this title and "New Avengers" now. OK, the good, there.
Now, unfortunately, the bad. First, Quake? Fucking Quake? Second, I don't see why we continually need ten people on the roster. On some level, the traditionalist in me wants five or six, no more. But, more importantly, I just feel like this series is going to continue to be dominated by three or four characters, with occasional moments for the members of the back bench. I mean, do we really believe that the Protector and Quake are going to contribute as much as Hawkeye and Red Hulk, let alone Cap and Tony? Hawkeye himself barely managed to get in a few lines before "Fear Itself," and he only started recently getting them because of his relationship with Jessica. Third, we don't really get any new friends. Cap approaches the Black Panther, and he suggests Storm. Done. We do get Vision, but I'm so enraged by the fact he's just magically inserted into the comic that I can't really go there right now. (I mean, he's clearly here just for the war with Ultron, right?) In the end, we replace Spider-Man, Thor, and Wolverine with Quake, Storm, and Vision. Um, OK.
If Bendis would've left out Quake, Storm, and Vision, you'd have the following team: Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, the Protector, Red Hulk, and Spider-Woman. I mean, there you go. You've got a six-person team, and the Protector could actually be the newbie who manages to get some character development. You get Spider-Woman, who can more than stand on her own on a team with five dudes, so the whole series doesn't devolve into a sausage feast. Perfect. I just don't understand why Bendis insists on these huge casts. I mean, Storm? QUAKE?
All that said, I'm still intrigued by the way Bendis is setting up the war with H.A.M.M.E.R. Quake's conversation with Cap does a great job of building the tension, and I'm excited to see where it all goes. The only problem is that I was also excited to see some character development along the way. With nine characters on the full roster (plus Maria Hill), I'm guessing we're still going to get a non-stop slug-fest with everyone throwing out occasional one-liners. [Sigh.]