Stuart Immonen’s artwork is so smooth and clean and brilliant that it almost feels ill-suited for a comic like “New Avengers.” I say “almost” only because his artwork is so stunning and darn near perfect. “New Avengers” is about imperfect people facing imperfect problems. Logic would dictate that the art, therefore, should be imperfect. Except things don’t work like that and, instead, we are fortunate to have Immonen drawing this title. His group shots, like Luke Cage’s recovery and the cluster of the Hood’s forces, are brilliantly detailed, but seemingly simplistic in appearance.
For some strange reason, before I opened this book up, it reminded me of “Avengers” #240, wherein one of Luke’s current teammates — Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman — faced a threat of her own from a hospital bed. Drew’s threat was Morgan LeFey, but Cage is threatened by some sort of device on his heart. The story is somewhat predictable from there, but Bendis makes it feel fresh and unpredictable. Without spoiling the outcome, the Avengers — the renegade Avengers — manage to turn their misfortune around and point it against Norman Osborn. Bendis does a great job giving these characters individual voices, but he also knows how to make this group of heroes communicate as a team instead of some random gathering of marketable heroes and heroines.
Bendis brings the threat of the Hood back into the lives of the Avengers while elevating the stakes a bit more. The heroes are now in Osborn’s crosshairs, with a horde of villains set after them. “Siege” hits this book very soon, so this issue is a calm before the storm type of story, but it still manages to blow some things up pretty badly. The issue ends with the possibility of a transition, and the impending end to “Dark Reign” all but guarantees a change is in the works.
While this book is under the “Avengers” brand, it doesn’t feel like an Avengers book. The gathering of heroes in between the covers feels more like an issue of “Defenders” from that title’s heyday. This isn’t a bad book, it is quite enjoyable, but the “Avengers” brand seems to have strayed. I’m hopeful that as “Siege” hits, the Avengers find more Avenger-y members in the midst.