As predicted, promised and/or threatened, it is time for my review of New Avengers #6. This the the grand finale to the story arc that was to change the face of Marvel Magic forever, and therefore almost guaranteed to be a mind-blowing bit of storytelling. Almost.
This issue begins before it begins with the bit of plot exposition on the title page that is intended to remind readers of what has been going on in the story so far. This is a great vehicle for not only enabling readers to stay withing the narrative flow after having had a month of downtime since the last part of the story, but also allowing new readers to pick up the book and jump in without too much confusion. But this should not be abused. You should not, for instance, say in this bit that the reason Agamotto has gone berserk is because he has been ousted from the Vishanti and he needs the Eye, which is now his actual eye and his only weakness, back to protect him from their attacks. Wait, what? Apparently that happened. That could have been an awesome bit of comics story, why was it relegated to a tiny paragraph before the actual comic began? Well, the real answer is because Bendis is a bit of a hack. Unfortunately as fans we now need to try to tie this all into the logic of the Marvel world and we don’t have a lot to go on. But now to the bit of the story we are told in this issue. Keep in mind, this will change everything.
This issue begins where the last one left off. The Avengers have just supercharged their secret weapon, the Mighty Mystical Fast Ball Special. Using the Eye of Agamotto Wolverine, because even Deadpool has some dignity, is shunted to the Light Dimension, apparent home of Agamotto, where Earth’s first and finest Sorcerer Supreme begins the battle for what we are told is his very existance with a spell borrowed from Karl Mordo. Yeah, that happened.
Then the battle proper begins, which is really an uninspiring bit of story in my opinion. Agamotto continues to take the forms of people from Wolverine’s past, and Wolverine never once is fooled and continues to punch Agamotto in the face. Interspersed in this mystical battle are shots of the Avengers watching the course of events, and Doctor Voodoo getting increasingly edgy as the struggle continues. Doctor Strange had to learn patience before he could master Sorcery. Jericho Drumm accepted his anger before he embraced the path of the Hougan. While perhaps necessary, it was maybe not he best idea to make Jericho the anchor for all their power. Between the super-charged Wolverine and Agamotto there is a bit of mystical back and forth, at least that is what the spell text listed at the bottom of the pages tell us. Also, apparently this Wabawab guy was a jerk with a real penchant for magical torture. In the end it all boils down to Agamotto and Wolverine punching each other with some glowy bits around them. There is none of the intellectual back and forth you would expect from a magical battle. None of the finesse you should have in a Doctor Strange story.
Ah, but there it is! This is not, nor ever was a Doctor Strange story. We have been reminded several times that Doctor Voodoo, the Brothers Drumm, is the Sorcerer Supreme. It has been easy to forget because Voodoo has been extremely passive and ineffective in this story, even for one of Bendis’ Sorcerers Supreme, but it was always his duty to defend against this threat and the consequences of failure were always his to bear. But not his alone. Jericho Drumm shares his body with the spirit of his brother Daniel, the previous Brother Voodoo. The very same Daniel Drumm who, as it just so happens, is currently wandering aimlessly throughout the Light Dimension. Of course, Daniel has always been the more family focused of the brothers, and the more duty focused. He is certainly not going to let some alien caterpillar thing beat up his little brother.
This is where things all go wrong. Agamotto feels the terms of the challenge have been violated and he starts to unleash his full might on both Wolverine and Daniel. Jericho, who still feels guilt over his brother’s death, loses all control of himself and enters the fray directly, along with the Eye. This is something that Agamotto may have been hoping for all along. Or maybe I am giving Bendis too much credit there. At any rate, things don’t seem to go too well for either of them. Fueled by pure rage Doctor Voodoo is able to Banish, or possibly even kill, Agamotto. For all time. Which is long, even for a god-like being such as the All-Seeing. The price was not low, however. Jericho Drumm, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, had to give his own life in order to accomplish that task, thus fulfilling Marvel’s “one of these Avengers” will die teaser.
Doctor Strange seems confounded by this turn of events, but I am not sure why. If he is asking why Jericho would sacrifice himself for the good of the universe, well that should be pretty self evident. Perhaps Strange is wondering why Jericho would give into an obvious ploy and let himself be killed in the process? It is also possible that Strange is wondering why Jericho would forfeit the eye, which apparently means the earth is left with no Sorcerer Supreme. Or maybe, just maybe, Bendis is continuing to write him as an incompetent boob. We are not left long to wonder though because Daniel Drumm, the other Brother Voodoo, has posessed Luke Cage and is about to fulfill this issue’s quota of Strange Punchin’.
Of course, Bendis is still on a personal mission to prove me wrong and Doctor Strange is rescued in the nick of time by the Thing. Lucky for the Doc that Ben hasn’t taken his turn human again potion yet. There is a brief struggle between the Drumm possessed Luke Cage and the Thing, which ends in Daniel swearing revenge and then disappearing, and then Damien storms out of the remains of the mansion to yell at the crown of gathered citizenry.
The end. That is how Earth’s greatest mystical battle of all time went down. Somehow, I’m not feeling it.
In the end, this issue really did not satisfactorily end this arc for me, and it certainly did not shake the foundations of Marvel Magic. Sure, something is going on in a realm we don’t usually have insight to. It is also probably true that there will be no more Sorcerer Supreme, at least not one who assumes the authority of office through the Eye of Agamotto. These things have happened before though with only Stephen Strange noticing, and he was able to work around them in the past. We did get some insight into the Rage of Drumm event that has been forecast. I think Daniel may be coming back to kick Strange while he is down. He could also be the incredible new villainous force that was hinted at. If Daniel still has access to the light dimension, not to mention all of it’s now unaligned minions, he might be able to cause some real problems for the folks back on Earth. I guess we shall see in time, and hopefully through the pen of a decent writer.
I did not care for this book, but at least it is over. Now we get to look forward to the Bendismantling of the Illuminati…