owie's Avengers #26 - Loyalties Divided review

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Some good, some bad

Overall I'd say this was a not-impressive book with some good stuff in it.
I've become very interested in Noh-Varr in the past several months, so it was good to see him figure centrally here.  It looks like he'll be doing some butt-whupping next issue (if the cover is any indication, which of course it isn't necessarily), so that will be fun to see; I want to see what he's like when he's going all out.  The details with his girlfriend were also nicely written.
The rest of the dialog was kind of fill-in level of quality and a lot of the narrative referred to stuff that's going on elsewhere.  I have to say, the idea of this particular team being the one that was handpicked to fight the pure Phoenix Force makes no sense to me.  I mean, what is someone like Valkyrie or Vision or War Machine going to do against a cosmic abstraction?  Even Thor shouldn't really have any effect on it, although there seems to be some kind of special relationship between his hammer and the Phoenix that will be revealed later.  (This kind of team-creation seems to be on a par with the way the rest of the Avengers are being split up; if you look at the teams in AvX 4 right now, I can't see any of them except the Wundagore team really having any chance against their corresponding X-teams.  If this is an indication of Cap's strategic abilities, then he's slipping.)
The art: Walter Simonson is one of my very favorite artists from the 80s.  I was really excited to see he's back here.  But to be honest, the art really was not working for me.  I think part of it is stylistic.  Simonson's art is very angular, with harsh edges and flat spaces, which worked very well with the older, flatter style of coloring that you'd see on his work on, say, Thor, X-Factor, or FF in the 80s.  But now, with the more illusionistic style of coloring that comes with digital painting, the color and drawing don't synch up.  The art is flat and the color has depth, it doesn't work.  But there's more to it than that, the pure level of quality in his drawing just isn't there.  Some of the faces especially just look cheesy.  So that was a real disappointment.
So basically I felt like this was a place-holder issue, in terms of plot, with the exception of the bright spot of the Noh-Varr storyline, and the art was sub-par, not just for Simonson but for comic artwork in general.  I'm holding out hope that they might get the kinks worked out of the art by next issue.

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