Waiting for the Trade – Avengers

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
Avengers Prime
by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis
Collects Avengers Prime 1-5
Why I Bought This: I actually rented this from the library, as I don’t like/trust Bendis enough to buy books he writes. Also this is kind of Asgard heavy and that’s not my favorite setting. However, the premise of a mini-series that focuses on the Avengers’ “big three” is definitely something that interests me, so when I decided to rent some trades at the library this was the first one I picked up.
The Plot: In the immediate aftermath of Siege Cap, Thor and Iron Man are warped away to Asgard’s nine realms and must battle their way back to each other/home.

 
Chapter 1 – The big three are looking at the ruins of Asgard (which is still in Oklahoma) when Cap and Tony begin to argue about Civil War again when suddenly a magic vortex opens and sucks them through. Tony ends up in a field alone. Cap (sans shield since Bucky still has it) winds up in a bar full of trolls/orcs/elves, when he asks where to find Thor they all attack him but Cap being awesome lays out the entire bar. Thor finds the Enchantress, who attacks him.
Chapter 2 – Thor and the Enchantress battle, while she blames him for the current state of the nine realms. Iron Man encounters some ogres/trolls who easily defeat him as he isn’t fully armored. Cap battles some more elves and after he wins, he meets an elf chick who has the hots for him after seeing him in battle. The trolls bring Iron Man to a dragon named Fafnir that claims Thor killed him once before and they begin to torture Iron Man. Thor learns from Amora that Hela has conquered the nine realms while the Asgardians have been absent in Oklahoma, and Hela arrives.
Chapter 3 – Thor battles Hela and her army of the dead. Tony uses the lightening flashes of their battle in the distance to scare the trolls into turning against the dragon, and then escapes naked (because it’s a Bendis comic where every captured hero is always naked). The dragons catches up to Tony and is about to kill him when Cap arrives and takes him down in three panels because he’s awesome like that. And then Cap scares the trolls away just by standing up to them without throwing a punch because that’s how he rolls. Hela defeats Thor, but as she’s about to kill him Enchantress teleports him to safety where Cap and Tony find him severely wounded and sans hammer.
Chapter 4 – Enchantress has managed to down Hela and she tries to life Thor’s hammer to no avail, when Hela recovers and defeats her. Hela then tries to first lift and then destroy Thor’s hammer also to no avail. Hela then summons the spirit of Thor’s grandfather to take the hammer promising to send him to Valhalla if he does so, however he too fails to lift it so she banishes him again. Amora recovers and summons an army of demons to attack Hela. Meanwhile the big three compare notes and Thor is baffled that Hela is now more powerful than him amongst other standard Bendis-style silly chit-chat. Thor unites the various dragons, elves, and ogres into an army to oppose Hela. Defeated again, Enchantress learns that Hela has the Twilight Sword.
Chapter 5 – Thor’s army battles Hela’s army of the dead in epically drawn splash pages. Thor and Hela meet in battle and she again overpowers Thor and this time stabs him with the sword. She’s about to decapitate him when Enchantress again intervenes and teleports the two of them away so Thor can recover his hammer. Round 2 and Thor manages to stalemate Hela until Enchantress, Iron Man and the Dragon combine all of their energy attacks with Thor’s lightening to finally defeat Hela. Thor then uses the sword to restore the nine-realms (except he still leaves Asgard broken and in Oklahoma for reasons I don’t buy) and Enchantress teleports the Avengers home. Thor gives the sword to Hemidall for safe-keeping (since the rainbow bridge is broken so he has nothing better to do at the moment I guess), while Cap and Tony finally reconcile their differences.
Critical Thoughts: I was stunned at how much I enjoyed this. This may be the best thing I’ve ever read by Bendis. While it has some of his usual quirks that annoy me they are very few and far between in this story. He actually gets Cap and writes him well both in battle and among his allies (which again stuns me because usually I find Bendis completely misses on a lot of the characters I like–Hawkeye being the most obvious example). The fight scenes are also very strong, which typically is a major criticism I have of Bendis: I’d say in most stories of his I’ve read I find his fight scenes have absolutely no flow at all to the point of being borderline non-existent, so kudos to Davis for making more with less.

I’ve mentioned before that Enchantress is probably my favorite character in the Thor-mythos, and again I’m pleased to say Bendis writes her very well letting her show that hidden streak of nobility she had in her best stories of the 80s alongside the pettiness and superiority that drives her villainous actions. I also really liked the Twilight Sword reveal, as it was last seen in Busiek’s modern classic of the Avengers vs. Morgan Le Fay and Bendis assumes the reader’s know and recall its full power and let’s the moment of its reveal sink in.
Grade: A. – I can’t believe I’m giving this grade to a Bendis written Avengers comic, but I can be objective and this story was quality from top to bottom.