Overall- Anybody who knows anything about me knows that for the most part, I can't stand the way BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS has been destroying the Marvel Universe in general, and the Avengers in particular. With that said, I have to confess, I liked this comic book. Well, I liked it about as much as I can possibly like a book written by BRIAN. Here's a quick review.
At the end of the last issue, Norman Osborn went on TV and unveiled the Dark Avengers to the American public. Needless to say, the New Avengers weren't pleased, and long-time Avenger, Clint Barton, who is currently going by Ronin, is especially pissed that Bullseye, a known psychopath and assassin is disguised as Hawkeye, Clint's old moniker. Clint and the rest of the New Avengers then hatch up a plan to attack the Dark Avengers. Clint figures that during the fight, the Dark Avengers will revert to form(for the most part, the Dark Avengers are criminals and lunatics), and the New Avengers can expose them publicly.
The New Avengers send Spider-Woman to Stark Tower, where the Dark Avengers are living, to pretend to join with them. After joining with the Dark Avengers, Spider-Woman is supposed to lure the Dark Avengers into a trap set up by the New Avengers. To this end, the New Avengers set themselves up at one of the Hellfire Clubs old haunts. Unfortunately, Norman sees through Spider-Woman's plan, and instead of sending himself and the Dark Avengers into the New Avengers trap, Norman sends the Hood and his gang of c-list villains.
So, the New Avengers battle 20 something bad guys to a stalemate until Spider-Woman feeds her bio-electric blast into Ms. Marvel, who proceeds to expel all of the energy in a massive blast which takes out all of the villains, but leaves the New Avengers unharmed. The New Avengers, realizing that they were had, retreat and regroup back at Bucky(Captain America's)apartment. From here, they figure out that Norman must be working in tandem with the Hood, which means that while Norman is playing super-hero to the adoring public, he is also controlling the criminal underworld through the Hood.
Clint finally has enough, and goes to a nearby television station and reveals his secret identity. He explains that he was Hawkeye, Goliath(occasionally)and currently he is Ronin. Clint then talks about Norman's lengthy, public criminal record, as well as his stays in prison and mental institutions. Clint goes on to explain that Norman is using criminals like the Hood to further his plans, and that himself and the New Avengers aren't going to sit back and take it. Clint finishes by saying that his Avengers will continue to fight the good fight, and that the people of America shouldn't sit back and allow a psychopath like Norman to run the world. And with that, this issue ends.
This was a double size comic, and I have ALOT I want to cover here. First things first, this was the best writing job BRIAN has done in quite some time. That doesn't mean this book was as good as a comic written by Geoff Johns or Ed Brubaker, but for BRIAN'S talent, this wasn't that bad. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised, since I was expecting MUCH worse. BRIAN'S usually annoying dialogue was kept to a minimum, which I really appreciated. I'm sorry, but BRIAN'S dialogue style really bothers me. All of his characters whine and repeat themselves constantly. Thankfully, most of this issue was the big fight, which limited the dialogue. Storywise, this was intriguing... To a degree.
Clint Barton going public was an interesting move, since it gives the New Avengers a public face to counter Norman Osborn. However, and this is my real big hang up here, Marvel made it abundantly clear that the regular people of the Marvel Universe seem to hate their super-human protectors. Tony Stark and his pro-registration forces won the super-hero Civil War when the people of New York City(one of the most liberal cities in America, trust me, I grew up there)turned on the unregistered heroes and ATTACKED the Sentinel of Liberty himself, Captain America(Steve Rogers)in "Civil War" #7(which is to this day was the most asinine thing I have EVER read... New Yorkers siding with the Federal Government... HA HA HA!!!). That image of the citizens of NYC attacking Cap in favor of the government will go down as the absolute, most idiotic thing I have EVER read in a comic book, and remember, I've read well over 8,000 comic books over the course of my life, so that's saying alot! Clint is an unregistered hero. Therefore, by Marvel's own twisted logic, the people should hate him, no matter what good deeds he preformed in the past.
The bait and switch aspect of this comic did mildly piss me off, as we were told to expect a big New Avengers vs. Dark Avengers battle in this comic. Hell, the big Avengers "battle" is right there on the cover! I would have much rather seen the New and Dark Avengers go at it, but that wasn't to be. Instead, we get the Hood and his band of losers fighting the New Avengers. The artwork was good, so I can't complain about the battle itself. Like I said, the best thing about the fight was BRIAN didn't have everyone whining at each other like usual, as they were too busy fighting.
Another problem I have with this comic book is I have no idea who the hell is actually on the team. We have Wolverine(of course), Spider-Man, Ronin, Luke Cage and Captain America(Bucky) who I'd consider definite members of the team. But we also have Iron Fist, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman and Mockingbird hanging around. Are they on the team? Yes? No? Who cares? Besides the weird line-up, I have no frigging clue as to who the team leader is here. Common sense says that Cap should lead, but for the most part, he seems content to stay in the background. Clint has led several teams before, and at times seems to be the leader of this motley crew. But then again, many of Luke Cage's actions would lead one to think he's the leader of this team. Back in the day, you knew who the Avengers team leader was... I miss those days.
The bottom line here is that this comic was better than any of BRIAN'S recent work, but that's not exactly saying much. For a score, I'll give this comic a surprising 7 out of 10. For the first time in a while, I'm actually looking forward to the next issue of this series. That says alot, since the last time I was really looking forward to an issue of this series was way back during the House of M storyline. Hopefully, BRIAN can keep up the moderately good work.
Before closing shop here, I just noticed the cover price for this issue and all I can say is HOLY S###! I can't believe Marvel is selling this book at $4.99!!! That's absolutely insane! I'm glad I got this comic through Marvel's subscription service... $4.99 for a comic book! Madness!!!