Norman Osborn figures out how to remove the octopus from Madame Hydra’s head.  He then sends a hologram of himself to disrupt The Avengers’ press conference where they were unveiling their new team lineup, to recap: Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, (Red) Hulk, Protector, Storm and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson, apparently going by the codename Quake.  Osborn’s hologram accuses The Avengers of detaining him against his will, without a trial, which as Hawkeye later confesses, is true.  The rest of the press conference is a disaster as Captain America is either unwilling or unable to respond to the deluge of questions from the press. Meanwhile, Madame Hydra hatches a plan to attack him.

Cap breaks the team up into pairs to try and track Osborn down:  Spider-Woman and Hawkeye head to Thunderbolts Mountain; The Protector and Iron Man investigate known A.I.M. laboratories; Storm and the Hulk take on Oscorp; and Cap, The Vision and Maria Hill plan to round up Osborn’s known accomplices.  Things go disastrously on all fronts!  Osborn appears to have figured out a way to mimic the various Avengers’ abilities, combining them in amazing combinations.  Hawkeye and Spider-Woman are faced by gray Hulks that can cling to walls like Spider-Woman and Spider-Man can.  Storm and Hulk are assaulted by tiny winged troops, similar to The Wasp and Yellowjacket.  Somehow, Iron Man’s armor gets hacked and he blasts The Protector.  Cap turns their jet around, but they are confronted by a flying giant that resembles Giant Man!

I know Bendis is divisive.  Some people absolutely hate his writing.  I love it!  His dialogue is great!  The opening scene of Osborn and Madame Hydra discussing the octopus on her head is worth the price of admission alone!  The exchange between The Hulk and Storm is nicely awkward as well.  The modified Avengers tech being used against them is interesting, although it does remind me of the Super Skrulls from ‘Secret Invasion’ which Bendis also wrote.  But still, I’m looking forward to the next issue to see how the heroes respond to these threats!

Daniel Acuna’s artwork is just lovely!  I can see how maybe it wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but I absolutely love it.  It’s so painterly and lush.  His facial expressions are fantastic!  Excellent storytelling!  Just all around great work!

These are Marvel’s flagship heroes and probably my favorite franchise and this book certainly honors their proud history.  I’ll be sad to see Bendis leave this book, but at least he isn’t phoning it in.  This story is great!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover by Daniel Acuna