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New Avengers: Out with the Old

Writer Brian Bendis talks about the end of an era with the conclusion of NEW AVENGERS volume one

By Marc Strom

When the New Avengers made their debut in 2004, writer Brian Michael Bendis made waves by bringing some of Marvel's biggest names together in the same series for the first time. Now he closes out an era with NEW AVENGERS #64 and NEW AVENGERS FINALE #1, on sale April 28 and May 12, respectively, concluding the first volume of the series.

NEW AVENGERS #64, with art by Mike McKone, will check in on some of our heroes as they deal with the larger events going on in SIEGE.

"[We're] focusing our attention on a few of our characters that are not getting the face time in the SIEGE series itself, particularly Luke, Jessica, Bobbi, and Clint," says Bendis of the series' final issue. "We're kind of focusing on the couples and the sacrifices they've made. But also, the big

NEW AVENGERS #64 cover by Stuart Immonen
connection is The Hood's involvement with Norman Osborn and Loki, and how The Hood ended up as part of Siege. I think that back story's pretty interesting. I like underworld figures making deals and backstabbing each other; it's my kind of story. So that has a lot to do with it, and also it'll set up the big goings on for NEW AVENGERS FINALE. That is the official last issue of NEW AVENGERS volume one."

The Hood has played a major role in NEW AVENGERS since shortly after Civil War tore the team apart, as Parker Robbins became the Marvel Universe's new kingpin of crime. Since Osborn took power, The Hood and his organization have enjoyed carte blanche for their activities, something that has indebted him to Norman.

"There's a lot of loyalty in Parker's character," notes Bendis. "As you'll see in the issue itself, Parker's going to stay loyal to Norman because Norman had a chance to oust The Hood when he was powerless, and instead backed him up-which was a good bet on Norman's part [that] pays off for him big time in this issue."

Bendis has developed The Hood's story over the past several years, but he'll soon bring the character's arc to a conclusion.

"That end point is coming in NEW AVENGERS FINALE," promises the writer. "It's been a big, big, big part of the New Avengers storyline; it's the one that didn't involve all of the events as they carried on and the conspiracies of Secret Invasion and all that. This is another big story of mine that really deserves its own finale. It was [NEW AVENGERS editor] Tom Brevoort, actually, who pointed that out to me and said, 'You really should bring this home in a big fashion.' He also said, 'What about you and [Bryan] Hitch, you guys have never worked together.' So that turned out to be a really special project."

NEW AVENGERS FINALE preview art by Bryan Hitch
Despite the fact that Bendis will re-launch NEW AVENGERS on June 16 with a new first issue, the writer still feels that his NEW AVENGERS FINALE brings the story he's told thus far to a satisfying conclusion, opening the door for a brand new direction.

"People will see, when the new Avengers books ship, [they] feel very different [from NEW AVENGERS volume one]," vows Bendis. "This feels like I've wrapped up this book-or certainly a strong enough chapter in this book to justify where the re-launches are coming from. NEW AVENGERS, from the very first page, had a conspiratorial flair to it. It was almost like the super hero conspiracy book with all this other stuff thrown in. That's going to change with the new number one, so wrapping it up, and wrapping it up with such style with Hitch, it feels very good. It feels like 'Hey look, I did something!' You rarely ever feel that way about anything."

Bendis has also felt blessed with the high caliber of artists he's worked with in the past six years on NEW AVENGERS.

"I can easily look back and say, 64 issues and a handful of annuals and specials, and every single one of those books is drop dead gorgeous," he touts. "Awesome artists from the very first issue. It never wavered. I've been very, very fortunate in that respect."

As noted above, Bryan Hitch will step in to bring this chapter in Avengers history to a close, and the artist has helped to give the one-shot finale extra weight-literally.

NEW AVENGERS FINALE preview art by Bryan Hitch
"The finale was written to be double-sized, but [with] every single page that Hitch hands in it looks like it's going to be more than double sized," reveals Bendis. "He's spreading it out, he's really enjoying himself. I studied [his past work] to write for him, I wanted him to really enjoy this. I wanted for him to never think of the words 'Mark Millar' ever again while he was working with me. He's really enjoying himself, and it really shows in the artwork. I'm very, very happy."

Hitch previously expanded the scripts to CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN, giving certain moments more space as he felt necessary.

"Ed [Brubaker] had pointed that out to me, too," remarks Bendis. "He said it's never the stuff you think [is] going to be spread out. Frank Cho did that with me too [on MIGHTY AVENGERS] where he would take the script and kind of decide which elements of it were of the most interest to him and it's never what you think it's going to be. In fact, for Frank Cho I would throw in places where he could cheesecake it up if that's what he wanted and I thought he'd be good there, then he'd find another place to do it that I didn't think of. [It's] the same thing with Bryan. It's funny which character moments are the most appealing to him. It's just fascinating. Then I'll come in and re-script it to make sure it's all smooth sailing and everything, so no one will ever tell the difference, which is interesting."

Once NEW AVENGERS: FINALE hits stands, fans won't have to wait long for more, however, as Bendis and his art team from NEW AVENGERS return to Earth's Mightiest Heroes in June.

NEW AVENGERS FINALE preview art by Bryan Hitch
"I've seen the first two issues and they are gorgeous," exclaims Bendis.

Joining Bendis, Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger will be new series colorist, Laura Martin.

"Laura [colored] all of the events that I [have] written. She colored SECRET INVASION and she's coloring SIEGE; she's the gold standard. I really wanted her on an Avengers book on a monthly basis. I really wanted her cinematography on these books and boy-oh-boy, what a great team they are. The book looks amazing. I can't wait for it to come out."

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      [quote@Captain_Ky Uh... today was the 28th but I didn't see a 'Finale' on my shops shelf... delayed? Or did I just miss it?[/quote] Looks like May 12th, according to MU's comics on sale catalogue.


      Uh... today was the 28th but I didn't see a 'Finale' on my shops shelf... delayed? Or did I just miss it?


      I was just getting back into collecting around the close of Civil War, so when I read the back issues of New Avengers I was blown away. Particularly because of the conspiratorial aspect to the book and the mind-blasting art. I'm definitely going to miss that if it falls aside in the second volume, which, listening to BMB, it sounds like it will. Especially with the Heroic Age upon us. I'll still pick up the next volume.


      I didn't get on board with New Avengers till Alpha Flight got wiped out and then I went back and picked up the back issues! The ride has been great! Really looking forward to the next volume in the Avengers saga!Foster for Frost Giant and Van Dyne for Valkyrie in 2010!


      i'm not sure if i'm going to follow volume 2 but this sounds great.