This will be a bit different from the previous "Throwback Corner" articles I've done. Whereas others have taken apart a single volume or collection from a series, this will be taking the 2010 New Avengers series by Brian Michael Bendis as a whole and talking about why I like it so much.
This is in part to celebrate the launch of Defenders today, as a lot of that series has been influenced by Brian Michael Bendis' work with the characters, such as his Marvel Knights: Daredevil, Alias, and, of course, his New Avengers work.
I chose this version of the series mainly because it had all four of the Defenders in it: Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist, with Daredevil joining later on in the series.
I've made it clear before, but I love the works of Brian Michael Bendis. A lot of people hate this man's work, and I partially understand why. He has a rather cocky air to his writing style, and the all of his characters are really snarky.
However, the man can set up an interesting plot, stories tend to connect through cause-and-effect in some ways, he knows when to get serious, and he tends to use a lot of great characters. The dialogue is usually very clever too.
Enter the Heroic Age and his second iteration of New Avengers. You have a large team with a lot of strong personalities: Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, the Thing, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Doctor Strange, Ms. Marvel, Daredevil and Squirrel Girl later on, and even Doctor Voodoo briefly.
This was such an endearing lineup. Every character had a unique personality (despite what a lot of people say about Bendis, no, not all of his characters feel the same), they play off of each other well, and the threats they fight are cool. Lady Superia, Norman Osborn and his second gen Dark Avengers, Doctor Doom, Wonder Man's Revengers, Daniel Drumm, and others.
It was generally at its best when it wasn't navigating an overblown story like Fear Itself and Avengers vs. X-Men. However, it could generally navigate those well enough, though a couple of AvX issues live in infamy with me, one entirely about Hope Summers training at K'un Lun and the other being entirely a simulation by Danger of the X-Men.
Stuart Immonen did the art on the first few issues, Daniel Acuna picked up one, and the Mike Deodato Jr. took over for the rest of the series. It's almost odd seeing a book being mostly done by a single artist these days. I quite miss it. This was also where my affinity for Deodato originated. His strong forms that erred on the side of photorealism were always quite appealing to me. He does give most of his female characters the classic large breasts and butts, which is a bit of a bummer. However, the art is good enough outside of that for me to still appreciate his style.
There was one plot thread about Doctor Doom ambushing a dinner date between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones which I'm pretty sure was never resolved. He promised something coming for Luke Cage and the New Avengers, but it never seemed to come to pass.
Also, it goes without saying I love the idea of a Luke Cage-led Avengers team. This character has turned out to be a natural leader. He's strong, can keep his cool, and knows when to get serious. After Steve Rogers, he is the best speech-giver in Marvel Comics. A lot of the most hell-yeah moments in comics for me have been Luke Cage speeches in the New Avengers.
So yeah, after Thunderbolts and Ed Brubaker's Captain America and Winter Soldier comics, this is easily my favorite Marvel Comics series. It had heart, humor, action, and a fantastic cast of characters. Check this one out if you ever see the trades for it.