Daredevil drops by Avengers Mansion, which is surrounded by protestors, only to find the rest of the team out on a mission and the headquarters empty, save for baby Danielle Cage and her nanny Squirrel Girl… a rather frisky Squirrel Girl.  As for the other Avengers, they are recovering from an explosion at one of Tony Stark’s labs.

Iron Man realizes that Ultimo was after his armor, but when he was unable to obtain that, he settled for a blood sample from Wolverine, on the orders of Norman Osborn.  Spider-Man gets the most frustrated and angry I’ve ever seen him and spouts off about his anger at Norman.  In quieter news, Jessica Jones reveals to her husband, Luke Cage, that Norman threatened to kill their baby!  Later, Spider-Man accuses their Captain America-appointed liaison, Victoria Hand of secretly working for Norman Osborn.  Things aren’t helped, when Hand dispatches them to Florida only to send them to the wrong coordinates.

Speaking of, Norman is busy prepping his new Dark Avengers to send them against the real heroes.  Madame Hydra and Gorgon have a tense interaction, where we learn there is little loyalty in this pit of vipers! While Spider-Man was busy pepping up The Avengers, Norman does the same to his Dark Avengers.  So when the New Avengers arrive at their intended destination, they find Osborn’s group already on the scene!

I admit that I have a case of Osborn fatigue.  I think after this storyline, the character needs to be retired for a good long while.  That said, though, this is a well-structured story, with Spider-Man and Osborn both encouraging their teams.  It a bit of the calm before the storm, as The New Avengers regroup and prepare themselves for the next step and the Dark Avengers coming to accept Osborn’s grand scheme.  It’s a more serious tone than typical for this book.  Spider-Man is normally the Class Clown, but the fact that he’s so serious here shows how bleak their situation seems.  Overall, this is a good jumping on point, as it merely sets up the upcoming storyline, so if you start reading here, you won’t miss out.

Mike Deodato’s work is very stylized with a ton of detailing!  His facial expressions are just so emotive!  He even manages to make Iron Man’s immobile helmet expressive with body language!  Daredevil’s exchange with Squirrel Girl is also rendered very well, but my favorite panel is that of Jessica Jones, looking down at her baby daughter, unsure of how to protect her!  Just excellent!

So while this isn’t the most action-packed book, it does offer up a lot of information that will no doubt prove very valuable in the future of both this book and the Marvel Universe as a whole, so it makes a great jumping on point for this series!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover by Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo