Thunderbolts: Avengers Disassembled Hawkeye's last stand, from Avengers 502

"Chaos" The Avengers 500, 501, 502, 503 (2004)
"Avengers Finale" Avengers Finale (2004)

Reader Rating: Ugh; Thunderbolts Interest: Extreme

Summary: The Avengers come under attack by a mysterious enemy that subjects them to one catastrophe after another. Ant-Man (Scott Lang) is killed when the (already dead) Jack of Hearts returns -- and explodes. The Vision crashes a Quinjet onto the Mansion grounds and collapses while unleashing a quintet of Ultrons. She-Hulk goes berserk, ripping the Vision's body in two. A Kree invasion fleet attacks -- and Hawkeye is killed in fighting them off.

Dr. Strange arrives to lead the team to the, ultimately, unavoidable conclusion that their attacker is the Scarlet Witch, gone insane in what must be the Mother of All Stress Reactions. She is defeated, and carried off by her father, Magneto.

The Avengers include The Beast, Captain America, Captain Britain, the Falcon, Hercules, Iron Man, Photon, Quasar, Quicksilver, Yellowjacket, Warbird, the Wasp and Wonder Man. With speaking appearances from Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. I think the uncostumed young man examining the crashed Kree ship is Rick Jones. Nick Fury leads the agents of SHIELD. Many other Avengers seem to appear, but the Finale verifies that at least some of them are creations of Wanda's magic, and they do nothing of consequence.

Continuity: Hawkeye is killed in battle, in a glorious sacrifice very similar to his earlier "death" at the end of "The Kree-Skrull War" ( 1971/06/01). The Avengers disband.

Comments: In the aftermath of the attacks, The Beast says, "I want to know why she killed some of us, but only hurt or embarrassed others...destroyed some things and not far was it going to go if she went all the way with it? Just how powerful is she? Did she slowly dip into madness, or did she snap? How much control did she have over it all? Was it only that day or was it slowly building? What else did she affect that we didn't even notice?"

Good questions all, none of which are answered in Brian Michael Bendis' manipulative hack-job of a script. Basically, Bendis entertains us with a series of explosions separated by page after page of pointless gabbing and punctuated by an occasional violent, meaningless, death. It's infuriating that Nick Fury, and not Captain America, takes charge, and unforgiveable that it is left to Dr. Strange, and not the surviving Avengers, to take Wanda down.

Finale is pretty much a poster book, masquerading as a summing up, that adds nothing significant to the story.

David Finch's characters are ugly, with sloppily rendered faces and bizarrely bulging muscles. Between his weak anatomy, cluttered panel layouts and the red-dominant coloring, it's often difficult to tell what's going on -- but maybe that's a blessing in disguise.

Good-bye for now, Clint. You deserved better.

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This page was revised on January 26, 2005

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