New Avengers #61

Those looking to purchase "New Avengers" #61 to make their collection of "Siege" related comics complete may feel a little cheated since there's not a lot of Norman-Osborn-invading-Asgard action going on these pages. In fact, the events of "Siege" are only hinted at in a vague way, but that doesn't stop this from being a pretty good issue of "New Avengers" with not just Stuart Immonen on art, but Daniel Acuña also coming on board to handle some scenes between Spider-Man and Spider-Woman.

Instead of focusing on "Siege," this issue follows up the Hood's reclaiming of his gang from last issue with the revelation that his newly acquired Norn Stones can also increase the powers of his fellow villains to aid them in hunting down the Avengers. While Bendis has done issues featuring the Avengers and the Hood's gang with the bad guys amped up a little, the prospect of a fight is more appealing since, for once, the odds actually seem to be against the Avengers. He also changes it up by focusing on two pairs of heroes and villains throughout the issue instead of the full cast.

The first pair, the two Captains America (though only Bucky wears the costume) do some reconnaissance on the now-destroyed apartment of Steve Rogers that Bucky and the Avengers were living in during his absence. During this, they encounter some H.A.M.M.E.R. agents and the powered-up Living Laser and the Corruptor. The fight is entertaining as the Laser is baffled at the use of guns on Bucky's part, which act as misdirection for a different offensive move. The Corruptor's mind control powers come into play on Bucky and create an inversion on the "Reborn" fight between Bucky and Steve where Steve's body was out of control. The shifted dynamic works well and leads to a great scene where Steve demonstrates, once again, just how good he is.

Those scenes are handled by the book's regular art team of Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Dave McCaig, and they do their standard excellent job. The action scenes are dynamic and full of interesting angles and poses. Immonen manages to make both Bucky and Steve physically acrobatic, but in different ways with Bucky more subdued of the two. Both heroes look amazing and more than hold their own against the powered-up villains.

The other duo, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman, also do recon, but on H.A.M.M.E.R., which they notice is buzzing with activity that night. While a pair of villains get the drop on them later, their part of the issue is more dialogue-based, which both Bendis and Acuña depict well. Bendis has a lot of fun with the two since both have been through a lot of melodrama, but approach their problems so differently. He also has some fun with Jessica's new job as an agent of S.W.O.R.D. Acuña's art highlights the light tone of their conversation and the body language of the two. Spider-Man in particular gestures quite a bit, which adds a visual humor to Bendis' words that isn't always present.

One complaint is that Bendis relies a bit too heavily on one superpower that's meant to be mirrored between the two stories, but comes off as repetitive. Not only that, the continued use of the Hood and his gang is also somewhat repetitive at this point, particularly when this issue is meant to be a "Siege" tie-in. Overall, a strong issue, but not necessarily one that some readers will be expecting and one that doesn't look close to providing some conclusiveness to the fight between the Hood and the Avengers.

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