After the Avengers were “disassembled” back in 2004, the New Avengers title became the core Avengers title when it was relaunched. Helmed by Brian Michael Bendis since issue 1, the title has consistently been one of Marvel’s better selling titles month after month. During the Avengers relaunch early this year, the New Avengers became the “B” team, with the main Avengers title getting most of the heavyweights and the attention.
After the Civil War, Dr. Strange was stripped of the Sorcerer Supreme title due to his use of dark magic to save the New Avengers from the Hood and his crime syndicate. During Osborn’s regime and shortly before the Siege of Asgard, Dr. Strange enlisted the New Avengers to aide him in his search for the new Sorcerer Supreme, eventually identifying Brother Voodoo as his successor. The relaunched New Avengers follows up the Search for the Sorcerer Supreme storyline from the original New Avengers volume.
Fooled into a meeting, Dr. Strange was ambushed by a possessed Daimon Hellstrom and becomes possessed himself. The two mystical practicioners then went to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the new Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Voodoo, to claim the Eye of Agamotto for themselves.
Meanwhile, after initially refusing to join the Avengers, Luke Cage and company start to move into the newly renovated Avengers Mansion, where they are met by Victoria Hand. Because of her previous association with Norman Osborn, the meeting doesn’t go well. After reading a note from Steve Rogers, Luke Cage becomes compelled to give Hand a chance – Hand is to become Steve Rogers’ liaison to Cage’s Avengers. More of Cage’s friends gather, and the Thing is offered a position on the Avengers. The gathering becomes interrupted by the sudden appearance of the Eye of Agamotto (Dr. Strange’s magical artifact that he passed on to Doctor Voodoo together with the Sorcerer Supreme title). The possessed Dr. Strange and Hellstrom appear soon after in an attempt to convince the Avengers to hand the Eye to them. A scuffle ensues, with Luke Cage ending up getting possessed after he obtains the artifact.
The scuffle spills out of the Avengers Mansion and into New York City. Back at the mansion, Wolverine ends up stabbing both Dr. Strange and Hellstrom with his claws in an effort to subdue them, which frees the two magicians from their possession. Doctor Voodoo finally appears to aide the Avengers, but it is too late – Iron Fist is successful at getting the Eye but he also becomes possessed, and becomes transported away with the artifact. As the heroes stand and contemplate what just happened, a dimensional tear appears, and demons start pouring out of it and into the city.
Dr. Strange, Doctor Voodoo, and Hellstrom leave the scene in an attempt to figure out who’s after the Eye while the rest of the heroes attempt to deal with the demons. Meanwhile, Iron Fist regains consciousness in a light-filled place. He is accosted by two unknown entities, but he realizes that the entities, despite successfully transporting him, do not have the ability to take the Eye from him.
Back at the mansion, the three magicians fail to make any progress. Strange is forced to join the battle once more to save Ms. Marvel after she tries to close the dimensional tear. Eventually, the tear closes up on its own, with Iron Fist being sent through it just before it seals up. The Avengers regroup, continuing their discussion on who wants to get the Eye. Spider-Man quips that it’s probably Agamotto and that he just wants his Eye back, startling both Strange and Hellstrom. Agamotto (or one of his minions – it’s not clearly depicted), in the form of the Ancient One (Strange’s master, the one who bestowed the title of Sorcerer Supreme to him) again attempts to get the Eye from Strange, this time possessing all of the Avengers.
Just when things are about to take a turn for the worse for Strange, Doctor Voodoo appears and drives Agamotto off. Having had enough of Agamotto, Doctor Voodoo issues a challenge: a battle to the death between himself and Agamotto. Wolverine volunteers to be Voodoo’s avatar for this battle.
Despite Voodoo channeling his and the rest of the Avengers’ energies through Wolverine, Agamotto’s power is too much. The spirit of Daniel Drumm (Doctor Voodoo’s brother) intervenes, which forces Doctor Voodoo to finally confront their foe on his own. Using the Eye of Agamotto itself, Doctor Voodoo manages to banish Agamotto at the cost of both his life and the Eye, which is destroyed after the battle.
Stunned at his sacrifice, Dr. Strange contemplates Doctor Voodoo’s death and what he sees as a future problem – the loss of the Eye of Agamotto and the absence of a Sorcerer Supreme that will defend the Earth from evil magics.
The major impact that this storyline brings to the table is the death of Doctor Voodoo and the destruction of the Eye of Agamotto. The bearer of the Sorcerer Supreme title is responsible for defending this dimension against magical threats. When Dr. Strange was stripped of the title, he was able to find a successor through the help of the Eye. But that’s gone now. I’m sure that this plot thread is going to be revisited in future New Avengers issues.
My favorite moments:
Spider-Man joking that maybe it’s Agamotto who’s after the Eye which turns out to really be the case is my favorite moment of the entire arc. Way to go Spidey!
My least liked moments:
I’ve read most of Bendis’ Avengers work since Avengers Disassembled, and I found sometimes there’s a disconnect between how he ends one issue and starts another, and this arc is no exception. At the end of New Avengers #4, Iron Fist returns and starts berating Dr. Strange about how he really obtained the Eye. The next issue, New Avengers #5, opens with the team walking back to the Avengers Mansion, where Iron Fist starts interrogating Dr. Strange. Huh? So he managed to calm himself down after screaming from the top of his lungs, then starts acting up again? It doesn’t flow well for me.
Bendis is known for writing snappy dialogue and witty banter, and this kind of writing fits the New Avengers title like a glove. It’s a fun read, akin to how box office blockbusters are fun movies to watch. And the art, all I can say is that Immonen is really a good match for Bendis. He’s able to put the energy in the action sequences that Bendis likes to write. Everything – the facial expressions, the body language, the framing – contributes to making the reader feel the urgency of the matter at hand.
I’ve heard rants about Bendis playing around with Dr. Strange’s continuity, but I’m blessed with a lack of knowledge of all things Dr. Strange so I wasn’t affected here. I didn’t find much depth in the story, but stories don’t always have to be deep – this is a basic “we’ve got a very bad guy looking to mess up the world so let’s stop him” story that serves it’s purpose – to show that the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are really here to fight foes that no single hero can withstand. I just hope that The Hood doesn’t show up again*.