This issue is a straight up, super slug fest as Luke Cage’s Avengers take on Norman Osborn’s identically named team!  “Avengers… whup his ass!” Luke declares, rushing into combat.  (Spider-Man wonders, “Uh, is that the catchphrase now?”)  Things aren’t what they seem, however as Luke, the hard way, learns that this isn’t the same Norman Osborn we’ve all gotten used to.  He’s been significantly upgraded.

The battle is brutal!  Skaar, son of The Hulk, delivers a crushing blow to Wolverine’s cranium!  Iron Fist retaliates, taking out the evil Spider-Man in the process, in an amusing sequence.  Dr. Strange is almost murdered by the lethal new Scarlet Witch.  The evil Ms. Marvel nearly kills everyone nearby, including innocent bystanders and gravely wounds Mockingbird.  When the heroic Avengers attempt to save civilians, their efforts are rebuffed as the public is turning against the heroes, following Wonder Man’s manipulations in the last two Avengers annuals.  (See my review of ‘The Avengers Annual’ #1.)  Dr. Strange casts a spell and the Avengers basically retreat, but Osborn has one very Mighty trick left to send against them.

The art this issue, by Mike Deodato, really shines.  This is one of the hardest-hitting fight scenes I can recall!  He employs anime-like “speed lines” very effectively here!  And some of the blows are so brutal, you can almost feel them!  As dumb as a knock down-drag out fight could potentially be, this one is choreographed with precision and whit!  Spider-Man still gets to be a clown.  Daredevil proves his worth, by outsmarting his opponents and having them take each other out.  And as rough as things went this issue, it looks like it’s only going to get worse for the heroes!

I am suffering some Osborn fatigue at this point.  He already had one group of evil Avengers.  Now here’s another one.  I’ve actually already forgotten who some of them really are.  And the idea of the public turning on its super powered defenders is also not a new idea.

That said, I still like the book and its characters and especially the fresh, realistic dialogue Bendis excels at penning.  And Deodato’s art is always just intricate and amazing!  (Is it just me, or does Norman Osborn bear a strong resemblance to George W. Bush?)  If you like a good super hero fight scene, it doesn’t get much better than this issue!  And it nicely fits into the overall storyline running through both major Avengers titles.

This is a solid series, but it’s not my favorite book I’ve read today, so…

Verdict: Borrow

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