The Avengers Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Bad day- Avengers Disassembled

With Wandavision coming out soon, I figured it was time I gave a fresh look at some of Wanda and Vision’s major stories from when I was really big into comics: The 2000\’s. Turns out there hasn’t been too many of them. This is due to Wanda’s shelving and Vision’s weird journey through the various side books but never in a major role. That said it does bear to look at their comics and today on Extremely Uncanny we are going to look at the story arc that set up a near decade of Marvel stories along with Scarlet Witch and The Vision’s fall from relevance: Avengers Disassembled

Last time I wrote at any length on Avengers Disassembled was in a joke article years ago called In Defense of Avengers Disassembled. That was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I did actually like the comic at the time. I started really reading comics in 2007 and I started picking up trades on a regular basis. Mostly to fill out gaps in my understanding of continuity. I picked up Avengers Disassembled in what was going to be a start of collecting Bendis\’ Avengers run. I ultimately did not do that for one reason or another. Either way, I liked the comic at the time and jokingly defended its merits. You can read that article here- https://cboproductions.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/in-defense-of-avengers-disassembled/ be aware this was written almost 12 years ago.

Either way as I revisit this comic arc, I am left wondering is it still good or have my tastes refined overtime? Let\’s see.

Background:

Technically, this is the Avengers tie-in to the Avengers Disassembled banner event of 2004. That’s being pedantic because everyone knows that Avengers Disassembled refers to Avengers #500-503 and Avengers Finale. We are not going to talk about Thor’s final Ragnarok or that time Peter Parker turned into a spider and gave birth to himself. At least not today, but instead we are going to talk about the fall of the Avengers and their terrible, horrible no good, bad day.

Avengers Disassembled is notable for a lot of reasons. The biggest being that it is Brian Michael Bendis first arc on the Avengers line, and he decided to literally blow it all up to start his new status quo. Other notable aspects to the arc are the fact it features a lot of character deaths and it really took a hammer to continuity creating errors that took almost a decade to retcon. I am not going to dwell on the retcons today outside of some explanations, but instead we are going to look at the story and talk about its strengths and weaknesses.

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Avengers Disassembled
“Chaos”
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Penciled by David Finch
Inks by Danny Miki
Colors by Frank D’Armata
Letters by Richard Starking and Comicraft’s Albert Deschene

Previously on the Avengers:

Wanda had kids with The Vision, but they weren’t real. They had to put them back (I am spit balling here because it isn’t clear) and Wanda was pretty much wiped of the memory. That is until Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) has a conversation poolside with Wanda about how heroes shouldn’t have kids and questions why Wanda thought she could have any at all. This brings a memory back to Wanda and things go sideways.

Additionally, The Avengers have just returned from some daunting missions and lost Jack of Hearts in a battle in space. He is believed to be dead.  Also, Tony Stark is Secretary of Defense. It plays a role in the story. Not sure how long that status quo was going on, but I doubt it was too long.

Now what happens in Avengers Disassembled.

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Well, the Avengers are at the mansion doing Bendis dialog when the alarm goes off and its Jack of Hearts approaching the grounds. With everyone knowing Jack is dead, the team is obviously concerned. Scott Lang, Ant-man II, goes out to talk to Jack. Jack is pretty dead and decides to explode and killing Scott Lang in the blast. This sets off an all Avengers alert.

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Captain America and The Falcon arrive at the mansion to help with the damage control and clean up. Whilst the crew cleans up, A Quintjet carrying the Vision Arrives and crashes into the grounds. As the Vision walks out of the wreckage, he begins to make a speech about his programing and spits out Ultron Clones.

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Melting Vision is wicked

The Avengers do battle with the Ultrons during which She-Hulk loses control and goes full Savage. Resulting in her ripping the Vision into pieces at the dismay of the team. With the Ultrons easily defeated and the Vision torn asunder, the team tries to calm She-Hulk down only for her to critically injure the Wasp and lay a car into Captain America.

Meanwhile Tony Stark is giving a speech at the UN in his role as Iron Man of the Avengers but also carrying the weight of being the US Secretary of Defense. Again, I don’t get that whole status quo, but whatever. Either way while giving his speech, Tony starts acting belligerent towards the UN Ambassador for Latveria. Threatening to wipe the country off the map and all sorts of stuff that would be shocking to hear form the US except we heard that from the US in the last 4 years. Yeah… Either way Tony realizes he is acting drunk, but he knows he’s stone cold sober. He walks off stage and confides the issue with a shadowy Scarlet Witch.

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This was once thought unthinkable

That was all one issue. ONE. This isn’t your typical decompressed Bendis comic.

The following issue features Iron Man getting fired from being Secretary of Defense for his actions and receives the Avengers Alert. He quickly swoops in to take out She-hulk and save Cap. After the fight settles, we see the damage already dealt. Janet is rushes to the hospital, She-hulk is put in a hulk containment room, and the Vision’s pieces are placed in a crate to be shipped to Stark Industries. The remaining members of the team begin to question what all is happening but can’t figure out why all of these events are happening at once. They begin to get into an argument once it is revealed what all transpired at the UN and it is revealed that the Avengers has lost their UN Mission and thus funding.  Before the team gets too heated, they are summoned back to the mansion to find almost every single Avengers member ever standing at the ruins of the mansion.

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The next part of the story features the full Avengers and SHIELD arriving at the ruins of the Mansion to help. Shortly after that The Kree begins to invade New York. The peculiar thing is that Kree are not showing up to the SHIELD Hellicarrier sensors. Yet, they are obviously there and fighting the Avengers. During the fight Hawkeye’s quiver gets hit with a shot and all the explosives in the bag begins to go off. He grabs a Kree soldier and flies off into the Kree ship to their death.

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It is probably the worst death of the story. Shortly after the death of Hawkeye, a projection of Dr. Strange appears and enlightens that the things they are fighting are corruptions of magic.

In the final issue of the main arc (the Finale is mostly a clip show) we confront Wanda.  Immediately after arriving on the grounds Strange accuses Scarlet Witch of being behind the problem. All of the Avengers are shocked by these accusations. They said Wanda uses Chaos Magic to warp reality and Strange says there is no chaos magic. That is of course a lie and is later retconned by him being under the influence of Mordo.

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Either way the Avengers go to find Wanda who is living in this eerie world with the twins and a human husband. Cap shows up to tell her the truth only for Wanda and the creepy children of the corn she conquered up to demand he leave. Cap obviously doesn’t heed their warning and is attacked by a reality warped projection Red Skull and the rest of the Avengers are attacked by everything ranging from Hulk to Wolverine. It’s a mess.

During the skirmish Doctor Strange shows up yet again and shows Wanda the truth using his Eye of Agamatto. This causes Wanda to faint and the projections to stop. Magneto arrives to retrieve his daughter and takes her off to Genosha and Xavier to hopefully be restored.

The story ends on a somber note as the Avengers meet one last time. Unable to pay their costs, Tony must disband the team. Not before sharing a series of memories and getting one last touching tribute from the city itself. Thus, ends the Avengers. At least for a month or so when they launch The New Avengers and get the full Bendis treatment.

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Thoughts

Avengers Disassembled is the big coming out party for Bendis before relaunching the title as New Avengers. Honestly, the retitle/ renumbering may not be necessary, but it does reflect the shift in style of the team. It follows in similar naming convention that Morrison’s New X-men to notate the change in direction.

Either way this story is a bit of a mess. It is for a lack of better word— chaotic. It is front loaded with so much action that the book doesn’t breathe.  It is a Bendis comic, but it is not paced like one at all. Typical Bendis of the time would have carefully paced stories that while decompressed, often flowed nicely (albeit slow). They tend to read well collected. This is the beginning of the Writing for the Trade era. Bendis pioneered that style on the Ultimate comics he was writing at the time.

This story doesn’t have the feeling. Disassembled feels like a rushed story. It has some breathing space in the second part but for the most part the comic features several major events that could be the basis of several issues instead of four. That is in no small part the intent. I am aware of that. Bendis wanted to create a hurried feeling story that is almost claustrophobic in his event pacing. It should feel like everything is falling down all in one afternoon. That said, there isn’t much time to let the events sink in. They just blast through the story beats and deaths and no real moment of shock is absorbed. Hawkeye dies and hardly a mention of it in the book. Bendis does dialog well (sometimes to a fault) and he knows how to hit character moments. None of that is here or least in most of the story. There are moments in the hospital during the second part that works. It shows the shock of the situation settling in and the consequence for the events being felt. That doesn’t happen for the rest of the story. It is non-stop action but without much substance.

I am not even going to get into the continuity issues here, because Bendis (like most creators) tend to ignore things that don’t help them. It often comes down to continuity driven creators and editors to fix these issues. One of the biggest flaws in this comic is that Wanda Maximoff is barely in it and her motivation is flawed at best. Now, this does get retconned in Avengers The Children’s Crusade where Wanda is revealed to be possessed by the Life Force entity. That isn’t here though, and it will be several years before that retcon happens.

The art by Finch and crew is good stuff. It does have some wonky moments (especially Iron Man at the UN) but it works well enough. There are some cool things like Yellow Jacket walking through the city or the kinetic action of the story. Finch wouldn’t have been my first choice to draw this arc, but Finch does a solid job with the action. This comic is carried by the art at times and it helps that it is good.

The art is squarely in the cinematic era of comics. There are full on action sequences that are presented in that vibe. My mileage varies with this style. It tends to be decompressed and drags out the story but here it works with the chaotic action.

One of the best things Finch does in the art is that he shows the emotions of the characters fairly well. There are silent moments and Finch gets the characters act in a way that sells it convincingly. Unfortunately, Finch tends to draw big, meaty faces that are often over-rendered for the men. They all look like they are on the Marvel Movie Diet and that isn’t a good thing. These are consistent issues with Finch and its something you find anytime you read a book drawn by him.

The truth is that Avengers Disassembled sets out to do a few goals 1) set up a new Avengers status quo where they are no longer apart government agencies (UN, SHIELD, Department of Defense), 2) take various characters off the menu for some time and 3) Set up the first real Marvel Event complete with its own Mini-series and tie ins, House of M. In that regard this comic accomplishes that. Other than that, this comic is a mess. It isn’t one I would recommend to anyone and honestly it isn’t required reading for House of M. It is rushed and I can’t believe I am saying this but too compressed for Bendis and Finch to do their best work. There are parts that works well for what it is trying to do but at the end of the day, I just do not like what the story does. It is, well, disassembled.

This has been Extremely Uncanny. Have a wonderful day.

Jordan Jennings

Jordan has written for wide array of comic review sites over the years including Comicosity, Comicon, and Comic Book Revolution. He has been reviewing and discussing comics for over 10 years. In addition to comics, Jordan enjoys various types of games be it video games or trading card games.

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