By Kevin Mahadeo
Readers get a special present this December from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Mayhew with NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #3, which picks up right after the shocking events of DARK REIGN: THE LIST and features the lovely ladies of the Avengers on a mission to recover two fellow teammates suddenly gone missing in action: Luke Cage and Clint Barton.
"In the tradition of what I consider to be the great Marvel annuals, it is a genuine super-sized adventure," says Bendis. "It is a very, very important chapter in Dark Reign. One of the Avengers has been captured by Norman Osborn and the female contingent of the New Avengers has to band together and make a very hard decision on how far they're willing to go to get their friend back."
Bendis says the annual reads as an important chapter in the life of Jessica Jones, a character the writer created in his 2001 series ALIAS. A former super hero, Jones long ago slipped off her spandex; however Bendis hints she may return to her once-super heroic ways in order to find her missing husband.
"She could put on the outfit and it looks terrible on her because she just had a baby," jokes Bendis. "Then again, body mass index is not a problem in the Marvel Universe.
|NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #3 cover by Mike Mayhew|
The issue also stars Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman and Mockingbird as the three join with Jones to find their missing allies. All four femmes overcame traumatic events, a fact Bendis says gives them all a deep level of connection. The X-Man Rogue once absorbed all of Ms. Marvel's power and put her into a coma; the Skrulls replaced Spider-Woman with their queen and used the hero as the face of their invasion; Mockingbird disappeared from Marvel continuity for years after her death, recently revealed as part of the Skrull plot; and Jones suffered severe psychological torture and abuse from the villain Purple Man.
"I think they admire each other and like each other a great deal," explains Bendis. "Even before I came on the books, Jessica Drew and Ms. Marvel were friends. In ALIAS I had that Ms. Marvel and Jessica were best friends. There's a lot of connections already. And I think it's easy for Mockingbird and Jessica Jones to find a connection because of parenting and relationships. And there's a lot of mileage between Jessica Drew and Mockingbird because they were both agents that were double crossed."
The annual brings a lot of personal joy for the writer, as he cites an older annual, AVENGERS ANNUAL #10, as a book he finds as the quintessential, perfect Marvel comic. The issue, written by Chris Claremont with art by Michael Golden, introduced a young Bendis to both Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman and featured the first appearance of Rogue. The epic scope of the issue makes it near perfect to the writer and Bendis readily admits to hoping to achieve the same level of grandness with NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #3.
"What you need it the perfect amalgam of action and poignancy, and I promise you the last page will make people very happy," says Bendis. "I had to fight to do it. I don't want to spoil it, but this is a status quo changer for the [NEW AVENGERS] book, which is something that I think is always important for an annual."
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