New Avengers #45

Story by
Art by
Jay Leisten, Jim Cheung, John Dell
Colors by
Justin Ponsor
Letters by
Albert Deschesne
Cover by
Marvel Comics

It’s getting hard not to sound like a broken record when appraising recent Avengers issues, whether talking about “New” or “Mighty.” Once again, we only get cursory appearances by the “Avengers” cast, and once again it’s an “Untold Tales of Secret Invasion” flashback designed to answer continuity questions. In the past, this approach has left the series delivering the kind of revelations that should be included somewhere in the crossover’s focal miniseries, but this time it feels a little more like an attempt to plug continuity leaks and explain exactly how the infiltrating Skrulls could’ve made it through “House of M” unrevealed.

It’s not a particularly satisfying explanation, and for all the hints at some deeper Skrull involvement in the events of House of M, it turns out they were largely as surprised as everyone else by what went on. It seems that it was all a happy coincidence that M-Day occurred just at the point where the Skrulls were looking to wipe out mutants in preparation for the big invasion push.

What’s worse is that the material “Spider-Woman” had in the original “House of M” mini doesn’t remotely support the suggestion that she was the Skrull Queen back then. While some of Bendis’ “They were a Skrull all along!” claims make sense, this one feels like it’s been really been hammered to fit into continuity, and no attempt is made to address incongruous scenes from the event as it was written -- instead, they’re glossed over entirely.

Now, since it’s Bendis, it’s not a complete train wreck, and he does squeeze some decent character moments out of the situation. Seeing Veranke blind-sided by events and briefly reverting to her Skrull form (in private) is a rare moment of vulnerability for a previously unflinching character, as is her emotional reaction to discovering the events of the Annihilation crossover.

The issue’s real savior, though, is Jimmy Cheung, who can’t seem to put a foot wrong. His widescreen style and ability to pack in characters makes him a perfect fit for a universe-spanning book like “New Avengers”. The only shame is that he can’t draw more issues, because under his artistic direction, even a weakly-plotted issue like this seems perfectly executed. Even so, of all the various “Secret Invasion” tie-ins that have turned up in “New” and “Mighty Avengers,” this does appear to be the least essential of the bunch.

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