New Avengers #39

Story by
Art by
David Mack
Colors by
Jose Villarrubia
Letters by
Albert Deschesne
Cover by
Marvel Comics

Just as last issue where Michael Gaydos returned to "New Avengers" to draw an issue spotlighting the character he helped co-create (Jessica Jones), so David Mack returns to draw an issue spotlighting the character he had a hand in creating - Maya Lopez, the deaf hitwoman-turned-heroine known as Echo.

Surprisingly little is made of Echo’s actual powers in this issue. From her appearances in "Daredevil," we know she has a taskmaster-style ability to exactly copy any movement she sees, but in this issue, it’s largely underplayed in favor of simply showing her as a formidable, if otherwise “normal” human which, naturally, makes her a prime target for Skrull replacement. It’s not an inaccurate depiction per se, because her abilities aren’t superhuman in nature, but it does feels a little like one of Bendis’ semi-frequent continuity glitches. It’s a minor matter, though, for an otherwise brilliant issue which places some long-overdue focus on Echo’s place in the New Avengers.

The plot gives us a rare look into the actual workings of Secret Invasion, as we see a Skrull attempting to defeat Maya in order to take her place on the team. The Skrulls, it appears, are all going to have access to a ridiculously wide array of powers - not just those of their specific target. This promises to make them incredibly difficult to fight. That said, if this issue is anything to go by, they also lack the experience to properly use their powers to best effect. Despite employing the powers of several different heroes, the attacking Skrull is defeated by Maya and Logan, but does manage to evade capture. Afterwards, Maya retires to the Avengers apartment, just finding enough time to sleep with Hawkeye. First Wanda, now Maya �" man, that guy gets around!

It’s fairly straightforward superheroics, but when that’s done right, it’s no bad thing. It nicely plays off Maya and Logan’s history together (as shown in the pages of "Daredevil" some years ago) by pairing them up. Bendis is remarkably restrained with his dialogue, allowing Mack’s amazing pencils to speak for themselves. As someone only used to Mack’s painted work, I had to check the cover to make sure it was him, and I can’t believe a superhero artist of this calibre hasn’t been cajoled into doing more mainstream work. Every panel of every page looks great, retaining just enough of Mack’s ethereal painted style to really impress.

Finally, after months of build-up, it is actually starting to feel like Secret Invasion is here. If you’re not already reading "New Avengers," now’s the time to start �" this title promises to be an unmissable piece of the event.

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