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Avengers #502
10.7.2004 by Scott, every Thursday.

Avengers #502

(Be forewarned, there will be plot spoilers here, so if you want to be surprised, go buy the issue then make your way back here after reading it.)

Brian Michael Bendis.

Where does he get off?

I mean, he writes these “Ultimate” books, where he’s allowed free reign to do whatever he pleases to any character, and really, no one really minds because everyone knows that it doesn’t really matter, because it’s only the “Ultimate” Spider-man, or whomever. He can run amok and no one will bat an eyelash. He’s also got his own property, with “Powers”, where, frankly, insanity is par for the course.

Okay, so I do like his work, insanity or not. But then, THEN Marvel hands him the Avengers. They say, I guess, something like “Hey Bendis, take this book and shock our readers. You know, do something crazy.” So he does. I’m sure they read his scripts before going ahead with it, and they okayed it anyway. This is what gets me, I think. Marvel editors read these positively abnormal scripts, with fresh ideas and great action but huge lasting consequences and they still said “Do it. Do it.” Baffling.

Brian Michael Bendis’s arc on “Avengers” began with issue 500, a story titled “Chaos”. He takes the team and deconstructs them. No not in a boring over-intellectualised way with student film psychoanalysis. I mean it in the literal sense, as in he takes the team apart. In the first two issues of this story, Vision and Ant-Man are killed by fellow Avengers, She-Hulk is taken into SHEILD custody, Wasp and Captain Britain are put into critical condition, and Iron Man and Yellowjacket turn their backs on the team and walk out.

Then came issue 502…

The cover reads “One of these Avengers will DIE!”

I mean, really. What kind of hack-kneed, over-used comic device is that? Every comic fan knows that it’s always some kind of hoax, or they kill off a character like “Duane, the unknown Avenger” and he gets a special ceremony that moves everyone but the readers.

Except Bendis is mad!

He’s got Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Yellowjacket and Wasp on the cover, and is ready to really put one of these Avengers mainstays on ice, and he does, the magnificent bastard.
He kills Hawkeye!

Now, here’s where I go crazy. I mean, I’m a huge comic book fan. I own tens of thousands of comics. I am, basically, a fan-boy. The only reason I ever picked up Avengers was for Hawkeye. He was one of the first Marvel heroes that I read, and pretty much the only non-mutant whom I loyally followed throughout the years. And this punk Brian Michael Bendis kills him in his 3rd frikkin’ issue on the book.

And this is the kicker…

He did it so well!

The action was grand and frantic. The art truly added to the drama, and when Hawkeye dies, it’s quite fantastic. The other characters react in the same way the reader does, with shock and a desire to lash out at the loss. (Of course, Captain America wants to finish the Kree off while I wanted to wring Bendis’ neck…) But the impact of the issue is so very good, that you can’t help but think “Holy crap, that was a crazy issue!”

One day, I’ll decide if there should be more issues that do that. I’m not sure yet. But for today, all I say to you, Bendis, is you suck, you rock.

-Scott MacIver

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