New Avengers Volume 2 Review

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I actually read this comic many months ago, but haven’t had a chance to write the review now. Well, the epic Incursions Arc reaches a boiling point and this is certainly the height of the whole thing. It’s technically still going on to an extent, but the team has had enough of it all so this will probably be the final true battle revolving around it. The series has been leading up to this moment with some time and even survived various tie-in issues to Infinity in order to get here. Without further ado, let’s discuss this title.

The collection was quite large as it was longer than that of a normal trade paperback, but the majority of the issues were about the big confrontation with the homage to the Justice League. Earth was coming under attack from another Incursion. If you don’t recall what that means, it essentially refers to the phenomenon of two Earths starting to exist in the same place. If they collide for even an instant, then both planets die along with the Solar System. The only way to prevent this is to destroy the other Earth. For decades, many planets tried to find another way around this, but no such way was found. This has been occurring for all of eternity with numerous versions of the Avengers so the modern day ones have finally acknowledged that they don’t think it is possible to avoid this fate. Their only choices now are to simply accept their destruction or to destroy the other Earth to spare their own. The team has many debates about that, but at least they’ve been lucky with the fact that the other Earths have been uninhabited..until now.

The Earth that appeared this time is home to the Justice League. Their Earth is the only one besides the 616 (Marvel’s main Universe) Earth to have survived multiple Incursions to live til this point. Both Earths are undefeated, but only one planet can walk away from this one alive. The New Avengers roster is fairly stacked at this point (Since it is really the Illuminati and not the New Avengers per say) since they have Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk, Black Panther, Black Bolt, Beast and Mr. Fantastic on their side. However, the Justice League team has all of their signature members as well. One factor that helps the Avengers not get completely decimated in the opening seconds is that fate was not kind to DC’s team. When their Earth first appears, it happens immediately after the League had just finished fighting off another Earth. Dealing with one Incursion is already tough, but two of them in a row? The League is exhausted before the fight with the Avengers has even begun. (The previous Incursion had them fight against power mages who had previously wrecked the Illuminati with ease when it was just a few of them. The Justice League had to take on dozens of them in a planet wide invasion, but they pulled through.)

That was a mouthful, but some backstory is pretty important to fully appreciate the stakes. It is as much of a battle of morals as it is physically. The Avengers have been skirting the issue of whether or not they would pull the trigger and decide to essentially destroy a whole planet of innocent people in order to save their own skins and that of the planet’s. They would be choosing to swap their own lives for others, thus saying that theirs are more important. It’s a very dicey conundrum and one that is easily seen as morally wrong, but still hard to stop. After all, you’ll naturally be tempted to save your friends and family over total strangers. In the end, this is that situation, but on a grand scale. The fact that it is so grand also makes the whole thing very impersonal as it all becomes a lot of statistics instead of lives.

In the end, The Avengers mostly make the right call although they weren’t as decisive as I would have liked. They decide not to destroy the planet, but they also don’t decide to destroy the device. One by one they all simply say that they can’t do it and leave the machine there so it was easy for someone to walk up and press the button anyway. Hopefully they will be more alert next time, but it doesn’t change the fact that they just let an entire planet blow up on their watch. This was definitely not their greatest moment and will be something that they likely won’t want to share anytime soon.

The tensions with Black Panther and Namor have escalated as well. Black Panther now knows that Namor was responsible for the massacre in Wakanda and having a planetary genocide to add to that rap sheet doesn’t help matters either. It’ll be tough to get to Namor now though since the graphic novel ends with the Sub Mariner forming his own Cabal. The group is fairly powerful with heavy weights like Thanos, Terrax, and the mysterious lady from another dimension in their ranks. If necessary, this group could likely defeat the Illuminati and with ease I might add.

The author likes his use of synergy and repetition, but with a twist. For example, the speech that Namor gives at the end is the same one that Mr. Fantastic gave to the heroes at the beginning. It’s the exact same dialogue word for word, but the words have been twisted thanks to the context of how Namor is saying it all. It was definitely a solid piece of writing and the whole collection is quite good with that. There are no poorly written scenes in the entirety of the collection and a lot of plots are juggled around. Once you start reading this saga, you really can’t put the book down. The saga even has its own lore and universe built to support it without interfering with the rest of the Marvel Universe. This story is essentially taking place in a vacuum. It doesn’t effect the other titles, but you can still feel that the stakes are real. For example, I like all of the original characters that were added for this event.

Black Swan is the main one and she gives the heroes the various ideas for how to destroy worlds. She’s the dark voice urging them to give in and just destroy their obstacles. Acting as a bad influence to the team, she tends to succeed in breaking them all down slowly but surely. Her powers are vague, but she seems to be quite powerful. Her standard looking energy attacks are deadlier than they appear to be. She also got an origin story towards the end of the saga, which shed some light on her motivations, but she’s still an odd character. At the very least none of the factions should trust her.

All right, let’s talk about the Justice League. They were easily the best characters in the comic and I was rooting for them right from the start. It’s hard not to since they appear to be completely heroic and just want to protect their planet. From their side of things, the Avengers just look underhanded. As soon as the Justice League turned their backs, Namor threw his spear into one of their members. Sure, the Illuminati didn’t think that Namor would be that corrupt, but the whole thing is on them. The Justice League tried for a peaceful solution, but this destroyed negotiations so they decided to fight. As it stands, Superman was completely decimating the Avengers. (Not even going to bother with code-names) The Justice League did a great job of showing that unity and experience can defeat individually powerful fighters any time.

While they relied on heroism and good ole fashioned team-work, the Avengers had their Namor traitor and Dr. Strange, who decided to sacrifice his soul to get help from a demon. That did give him a massive power boost and ultimately it is what turned the tides against the Justice League, but it was definitely a very dicey decision. The Avengers had to pull out all of the stops for this fight. It was great to see Green Lantern, The Flash, Batman, and Superman in a Marvel comic. There was even a Martian Manhunter member although I don’t recall if there was a Wonder Woman fighter in the group. I was on Team DC as expected, but even the Marvel fans reading this may side with them given the circumstances. I hope to see them all again soon.

Even if I was rooting against them, the Illuminati members are all rather solid as well. This is not counting Namor of course as he is just another petty villain in the end. Mr. Fantastic was a bit out of character during some points as he was overly protective and making quite a lot of threats. It seems like this arc started to slowly corrupt him. Iron-Man and Beast retained their composure and were fairly in character even if there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for Iron Man to crack jokes. Black Bolt didn’t say much, (Shocker) but he also made the right calls in the end. Hulk was really just here to fight and get stomped by Superman. It’s a solid cast, but with the team fractured and more Incursions to come, what will they do? They have essentially decided to just let Earth die and I believe that all of this ends up tying into Secret Wars so maybe there won’t need to be much of a conclusion in the series.

It almost goes without saying that the art is excellent for this collection. It’s some of Marvel’s best work in that area and can hold its own against the DC powerhouses. As a comic, this one is also one of the best titles out there. This New Avengers run may be the best Avengers arc that I’ve read. Currently, I’d say that the best Marvel arcs are Infinity Gauntlet, Civil War, and X-Sanction. We can’t forget Secret Wars and World War Hulk either, although while I love that final arc, it is a bit of a step down from some of the others. If I had to rank them all (Counting tie-in issues that I’ve read for them) It would go: Infinity Gauntlet>Secret Wars>Civil War> New Avenger Incursions> X-Sanction> World War Hulk. As of now, I haven’t read much of the other big Marvel events like AVX, the new Secret Wars, or the new Infinity. The big X-Men arcs are solid as well, but none of them even come close to ranking up there at this point in time. There are probably other arcs around that I’m not thinking of at the moment, but Marvel does have a ton of them in the lineup so it would take forever if I was actually listing all of them.

Marvel’s events have been consistently good even if some of the later ones look a little anticlimactic. The new Secret Wars always looked rather boring from what I’ve seen and the new Infinity seems like the Infinity Gauntlet, but on a much smaller scale. Luckily, tie-ins help to stretch out the events. Infinity should have good fights though so hopefully Secret Wars threw some in there as well. Plus, if it does tie in to a lot of the material from this series, then that will help bump it up quite a bit. Personally, I think Secret Invasion looks like an epic arc with all the intrigue of who is turned and who isn’t, but I know that the comic doesn’t have the greatest reputation so it’ll be interesting to see how that one is someday. I don’t know what big Marvel event is coming up next, but I’ve been rather out of touch with the comics lately so I’ll work on getting a little more involved again.

Overall, This is definitely a comic that I highly recommend to all comic readers. Even if you haven’t read the previous volumes yet, you’ll be able to quickly get into the situation thanks to the recap at the beginning and the fact that the heroes will remind you a few times. This comic is very dialogue heavy, but also has a lot of action so it makes for a good mix. The comic should take you a little while to read as a result. The highlight is definitely the fight with the Justice League. While the League should have won even if they were already exhausted, out of energy, and got hit by a sucker punch at the start, it was still a good fight. It’ll be tough for this comic to be surpassed by other Marvel comics with how solid this was. It’s hard to imagine another event being this engaging at the moment either.

Overall 9/10

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Secret Wars #0 Review

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All right, now it is time to look at Marvel’s big title! To try and compete with DC’s big event, Marvel has brought back the Secret Wars. It is rather uncanny as I don’t believe that the Big 2 has ever synchronized their reboots/”reboots” like this before. It is fun and they say that competition brings out the best in us so this will help Marvel to really bring their A game. From what I’ve seen of it, Secret Wars is going to be incredible so they aren’t holding back.

There is only one main story here and we see it from the perspective of the Future Foundation. If you’ve been following the New Avengers series, then you’ll remember that multiple Earths continue to crash into each other. Our universe has blown up one of the (uninhabited) Earths that was heading our way, but these measures are temporary at best. The heroes now know that they cannot save the universe so the geniuses have constructed an arc with multiversal shielding. The multiverse may die, but they won’t!

The only problem is that it can only fit 60 people so almost everyone in this continuity is going to die. Plus, the Earth that is about to crash is that of the Ultimate Universe. They’re not going to just roll over and die so the big 616 vs Ultimate battle has begun and we must now choose sides. This comic doesn’t bring it up, but there is also a cosmic being that is going to make things a little more complicated. Do you remember how the original Secret Wars was essentially a big battle of good vs evil? Well, the new one has the heroes on a humongous planet. Every planet that has ever existed in a continuity will now be on that planet and the winning group is allowed to live. So, do you remember Super Hero Squad, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, the CGI Spider Man show, etc? Each of them is a different continuity and they will all be fighting for their right to survive.

It is rather ambitious and the only problem with this is that there is no way that the series will be able to show off even a fraction of the fights. Most of it will be left to your imagination, which is always sad, but the fights that we do get should be really cool. I have high hopes for this series and the comic was definitely a lot of fun. The hype is building and we shall see which is the strongest continuity. The art was good for the issue, but not great. I assume that it will likely step up its game once we enter the actual battles.

There’s also a backup story here, which features the mini comic about the Marvel Universe vs Attack on Titan. It is a pretty fun story and I actually found the art to be decent/actually good at some points. It only messes up with the titans as their faces look really off, but that may have actually been intentional. Spider Man gets his props as he handles the Titans with ease and this was a good example of what would happen if the Titans invaded the Marvel Earth. They would be obliterated in minutes. They don’t have the strength needed to fight off The Avengers.

Overall, I am ready for the Secret Wars! I read the original one not too long ago and I do think that it earned its right to be the best Marvel event. It was a lot of fun and this new version has a lot to live up too. Nevertheless, I believe that it shall rise to the occasion and Marvel always delivers when the chips are down. Now that I’ve reviewed the big Marvel and DC titles, get ready for a few one shots before I check back in with the two companies. After all, we’ve got to give everyone a chance right!?

Overall 8/10

New Avengers Volume 2 Infinity Review

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I read the first volume a while back so now it’s time to check out the sequel! This one ties into Infinity so now we can get to see the return of Thanos in time for the Age of Ultron! The first volume definitely had some high stakes and was a pretty original Avengers title so I looked forward to more of the same in this volume. It does suffer a little from the Future Foundation problem, but still ends up being a solid read.

From the last volume, you may recall that various versions of Earth are smashing into each other and taking out universes as collateral damage. The heroes had to decide if they were willing to destroy an entire planet of innocents, but the decision was taken out of their hands when they found out that it was uninhabited. Would they be so lucky the next time? That plot continues as the next Earth appears in the sky. It is quickly reduced to the subplot though as Thanos invades the planet with his army. The team is in a pretty tense situation at the moment and Black Panther is not able to get along with Namor. With enemies within and on the outside, this could be the toughest mission for the New Avengers yet!

The main plot was noticeably pushed to the backseat to make room for Thanos, but I give the series kudos for trying to keep it relevant. The planets are still coming, the heroes just have to worry about it while also trying to stop Thanos and his fleet. It’s a tough call and it one where you won’t find out how the heroes ultimately win since you have to read the main series. I may as well address that negative here. The series does cater to the main one a whole lot so you do end up missing huge chunks of the story by just reading this collection. It’s not very subtle so you can definitely tell when something is missing. There are even “previously” segments before each comic just in case you aren’t reading Infinity. I feel like the comics did a better job of that in the old days.

Still, tie ins are great to expand the story so getting to be a part of the event in any shape or form is still a lot of fun. It’s not like the series ended there so we’re still going to go back to the main plot afterwards so that we can see the Avengers get roflstomped again. In the main Avengers series, this happens constantly so I’m glad that this hasn’t been the case in New Avengers…yet. They’re hinting that this will happen soon, which brings up another issue similar to Dragon Ball Rebirth of F.

The classic Marvel heroes simply look way too weak nowadays. The aliens mention that the heroes would be doomed against a number of alien races that haven’t even appeared yet. After a while, you just gotta shake your head and say “No.” I just don’t buy the fact that there are so many more races that can wipe the floor with the Avengers. Dr Strange used to be able to take on the Tribunal and Iron Man’s new armor allows him to dish out Hulk levels of power. They shouldn’t be considered as lightweights anymore, yet it is hinted that they still are weak in the grand scheme of things. That’s really pushing it to be honest.

On the bright side, cosmic beings are not immune to this. The Living Tribunal was taken out in an off screen fight where he was likely one shotted. Now, that’s what I’m talking about! The hype has died and hopefully this will allow more people to realize that Goku could take him out. Of course, that is neither here nor there. It’s definitely an intense scene and you have to wonder who did that. The comic never says, but I’ll assume that a Dark Lord or Thanos managed to defeat him. It makes sense and his expression of fear suggests that it was a spooky villain!

From the core New Avengers, I’d say that Iron Man and Reed Richards get the smallest role. Iron Man is a little uncharacteristically serious, but it’s certainly better than constantly making puns when the stakes are so high. He just doesn’t help out. Reed gives Black Panther some decent advice, but he looked terrible during the beginning. He was threatening Dr Doom a whole lot while teamed with Dr Strange and you actually felt bad for the villain. The New Avengers did bring the fight to Latveria after all and they’re still trying to keep him in the dark. The whole scene felt extremely out of character for Mr Fantastic and he definitely didn’t act like the nice guy that I’ve come to know.

Black Panther and Namor get the largest role from the characters as their civil war intensifies. Both of them are willing to win by any means necessary although Black Panther’s tactics come off as more underhanded than Namor’s. It certainly depends on how you see it though and Namor has had his share of cheap shots. Needless to say, casualties are high and both kingdoms are essentially broken by the time this is all over. If Black Panther really does try to destroy Namor, it’ll be tough to accomplish. Namor should easily be able to defeat Black Panther after all. It’s hard to root for either one of them though since I dislike both characters at this point.

Black Bolt also gets a role and he decides to start bringing out the heavy artillery. The New Avengers show is really hitting us hard with the “Heroes can be corrupted” message as just about every member is hit. Black Bolt lies to the team and builds a weapon of mass destruction. He certainly can’t be trusted and nobody else can either so it is a tricky situation. Dr Strange is naturally nothing like how he used to be. Remember the Dr Strange collection that I reviewed recently? Well, you would never guess that he is the same character. They seriously sound nothing alike at this point and this Dr Strange is certainly less likable and doesn’t feel like the hero of old. It’s the modern comics effect at work. Needless to say, you’re probably better off just being in space right now and as far away from the Earth as possible. I think that the New Avengers goes a little too far in trying to make all of the heroes unlikable, but it has always been made to be the more down to Earth title. It just means that some characters will start to act out of character as a result.

Back to the Wakanda vs Atlantis subplot for a second. You will almost wonder why nobody is trying to get into the middle of this. I suppose that politics will keep a lot of heroes out, but the war is certainly escalating and someone has to put an end to it. Also, it’s hard to know who to root for since both fighters are willing to do anything to win. Hopefully, both lands are laid to waste so that America can come in and take over the countries. At this rate, joining the U.S.A. seems to be their best bet and then Namor and Black Panther can settle their differences in prison. They certainly shouldn’t be allowed to stay outside, much less be allowed to stay on the New Avengers.

As you can imagine, the art is really good for this collection. Each page is very detailed and that does wonders for the fights. Most of the pages are fairly dark to coincide with the theme of the volume, but not overly so. You can still clearly see what is happening and the art does a good job of setting the tone. I certainly have no qualms with the artwork here.

Overall, This volume of New Avengers is pretty good. I think that the heroes are certainly getting a little too corrupted through all of this and hopefully they start to remember why they became heroes in the first place. It’s more than a little embarrassing to see Dr Strange be beaten by telepaths and totally crushed, but that’s what the sorcerer supreme has become nowadays. I’m also hoping that Earth is recognized as a legitamite threat soon, but I realize that this may not happen for quite a while. Still, they just got to keep on fighting until they get their due respect. The tie in with Infinity does derail the main plot a bit, but it’s interesting and a lot of fun to see Thanos back so it is worth the intervention. We also get a cameo by the X Men, which is neat although I don’t think that the telepathy should have worked at all when the X Men already have a telepath at the ready. I guess we’ll see how the Avengers stop the Earth problem from continuing and if they ultimately decide to make the hero call or not. Ultimately, the biggest strength of this title has always been that it is simply very interesting to read and it never fails at that for a moment. You’ll never be bored as you’re reading this and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next time.

Overall 7/10

New Avengers Everything Dies Review

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Time to review volume 1 of the recent New Avengers series. The Illuminati have always made for a pretty interesting plot and Captain America has been the one to keep them in line. What will happen when they decide to go too far? It’s definitely a collection that is meant to keep you thinking and it’s a fun read.

The Earth is going to collide with an alternate Earth and the resulting explosion end up devastating the universe. Black Panther learns of this when he apprehends a mysterious figure who appears on his land. Her name is the Black Swan and she knows more than she lets on. He reluctantly calls the Illuminati to deliberate about what must be done. Black Swan lets them know that they ultimately only have two choices. Blow up the other Earth or allow the universe to end. She just finished blowing up a planet herself so she is not bluffing. What will the heroes decide to do?

Naturally, Captain America is against the notion of blowing up the planet. Since it is an alternate Earth, that would mean destroying billions of lives to save their own. It’s just not a good gambit and he knows that there has to be another way. He’s seen the Earth on the brink of extinction many times in the past so he knows what he is talking about. This is Captain America as he was meant to be portrayed. He is the moral compass of the group and he won’t even entertain the notion of using the bomb to take out the planet. Unfortunately, this means that the Illuminati can no longer have him around and they decide to erase his memories. It’s ripped offsimilar to what the Justice League did to Batman a while back. It’s sad for Steve Rogers since the others basically became traitors at that moment. The Avenger didn’t get to appear for most of the collection since he was taken out, but he looked very good in the scenes that he was in. I think he shouldn’t have been surprised by Black Panther’s betrayal though, but that’s a minor setback.

Black Panther is all for the idea along with Black Bolt. They’re leaders so they’ll do whatever it takes in order to save their kingdoms. Morals and honor will always be secondary to their overall goals. Namor is happy to do it since he’s essentially a villain at this point in time anyway. Dr Strange is slightly more reluctant to do this and he has a few spells ready, but none of them really seem like they’ll complete the job here so it’s moot. He ultimately agrees with the decision to blow up the planet. Mr Fantastic agrees pretty quickly since it’ll save his family and the Beast doesn’t even need a moment to think about it. He agrees wholeheartedly because he is the Beast and remains as one of my least favorite X-Men fighters.

That’s when the big cop out occurs…the planet is uninhabited. That does take away all of the tension and the stakes since they can now blow up the planet with a clear heart. In a way I would have preferred for this cop out not to have occurred since we would have seen whether these heroes were really heroes or not. No matter how they tried to justify it, destroying the planet would have cemented them as villains here. Destroying billions of people is far greater than any genocide feat in history and it always would be since blowing up planets is impossible in the real world. Naturally, a hero could top them by blowing up an inhabited galaxy someday, but it could be a while. On the other hand, it’s probably good that this did happen since I would rather not see these heroes taint themselves in such a way.

That was a big blow, but we got to see what all of the characters would have chosen (in theory. No guarantees until the final seconds right?) so that’s the important thing. Some subplots for the future have already begun. Black Panther has declared war on Namor and we can bet that Captain America will regain his memories and launch his own attack at some point. Dr Doom now has knowledge that could prove dangerous to the heroes as well. These plots should be pretty good and it’ll be interesting to see what the Black Swan does next as well.

The Black Swan makes for a pretty good villain here. She looks pretty similar to Emma Frost or Magik so I can’t say that the character design is pretty unique, but she’s a fun villain. We haven’t really seen what her abilities are (Assuming that she has any, but let’s face it…she will!) yet, but her plan is just getting started. She is pretty cooperative with the heroes since she definitely does want to keep on living. The whole situation is rather complicated and the heroes would have had a much tougher time without her. They should hopefully not trust her all that much at the moment, but she has definitely earned her freedom. Only time will tell if she saved the world for the better or for the worse.

The concept of the Illuminati is also pretty dicey and I agree with Black Panther for the most part. Deciding that they will take care of the Earth as they see fit is something that no group should be able to do. What about politics and Joe the Plumber? The heroes are starting to put themselves on a pedestal next to the average person and that’s definitely dangerous. Having the Infinity Gems in their possession is also a big display of power. at least the heroes claim to be doing this for the good of mankind and they haven’t overstepped their boundaries yet, but that day could definitely arise in the near future. We’ll see if the choices make or break them. After all, Captain America was the only member of the team who was a complete hero, without him…things could get very dangerous. The Beast will do anything to help the mutants and likewise with Black Bolt and Black Panther for their races. Namor doesn’t really care about anyone and Dr Strange’s motives are typically pretty clouded. Iron Man already has a dicey history of betraying his comrades like in Civil War so he certainly can’t be trusted. It’s only a matter of time until they fight the normal Avengers.

One thing about the premise that is hard to believe is how Black Swan says that nothing can stop the planets from colliding. The heroes try to use the Infinity Gauntlet and it actually doesn’t work. It’s possible that Captain America’s resolve just wasn’t strong enough, but it’s still a bit of a stretch. Even if that didn’t work there should be a bunch of other things that would. Remember how the Justice League made the Earth intangible during Doom? Something like that would work here or just warping it away from its current position for a few minutes. There are a lot of solutions that you can think of and it’s why I never believe in two choice scenarios in the Marvel world. Of course, you have to ignore that for the plot here, but it’s something to consider. It’s hinted that a high above being is forcing this to happen so that could become a plot soon.

The art is as good as I could have expected. Marvel has always been very sharp for the New Avengers and that doesn’t stop here. All of the character models look sharp and the proportions are right. The action scenes are typically pretty clear except for the Terrax one where a lot was happening at once and the art got a little fuzzy. Marvel continues to show that they can keep up with DC in the artwork game when they really put some effort in.

The writing is also very good for the collection. Regardless of how antagonistic the heroes appear to be, they are still written pretty well. It’s not necessarily out of character for any of the characters here to decide to blow up the planet. If Captain America had agreed then it would be a different story, but he didn’t so I give the comic some more props there. Galaktus and his herald do pop up out of nowhere, but it makes sense that they would try to do something in these final hours. The script alone makes the comic interesting so the fights and good visuals only help to improve the experience.

Overall, New Avengers Everything Dies is a pretty good comic arc. It’s a very fine start to the series since some of the sub plots have already started and we got to see the dark side of the group. The roster for the Illuminati is pretty good as well since most of the characters are interesting. I don’t think that adding in the Beast was a wise move, but maybe he’ll contribute something to the team soon. I think that the plot twist at the end was one of the biggest cop outs that I’ve seen in a while, but I suppose that it makes things a little easier on the heroes. It certainly prevents me from losing more respect for some of them, but it would have been nice to see if they would ultimately take the plunge or not. I recommend this to all Marvel fans or to anyone who wants to read a pretty good comic. Let’s see if future installments can keep this up!

Overall 7/10