To sum this issue up, The Avengers get the asses handed to them! Super powered H.A.M.M.E.R. agents divide and conquer as gray “Hulks” with spider powers besiege Spider-Woman and Hawkeye at Thunderbolts Mountain. Spider-Woman tries to bluff their way out of it, telling them that she is a Hydra sleeper agent. She even takes out Hawkeye to back up her facade, but it doesn’t work. She puts up a fight, but they vastly overpower her.
Storm is unconscious for her entire appearance this issue (at least she looks pretty tough on the cover), but Red Hulk fights on. He is taken down by miniature agents, resembling The Wasp or Yellowjacket. Last issue, Iron Man’s armor was compromised and he turned against his partner, The Protector. This issue, The Protector puts up a good fight, but ultimately, his concern for Stark undoes him and both men are captured. Flying invisible versions of Goliath are determined to take down the Quinjet containing the remaining three Avengers, Captain America, The Vision and Maria Hill, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hill struggles to keep the craft in the air, but it’s a lost cause. The Vision and Captain America put up a valiant fight, but these H.A.M.M.E.R. agents are, like the others, just too powerful. Vision is the sole hero to go un-captured by issue’s end.
Things certainly look bleak as the entire team is defeated and captured by Norman Osborn’s forces! The Avengers have been captured en masse in the past, though and they always get out. Heck, this time they have expert escape artist Storm on their team! So yeah, I certainly don’t see this as a permanent setback!
We get some nice character bits this issue. Spider-Woman plays off her convoluted back history to amusing effect. (Wait is she really Madam Hydra’s daughter? I can’t keep track with that woman, sometimes!) The Protector, a character I know very little about and who hasn’t yet gotten a lot of focus in this title offers some insight. The entire time he is fighting the over-ridden Iron Man, he is broadcasting his status, like a real soldier. He fights valiantly and his concern for Tony turns around and bites him. Vision hasn’t skipped a beat and slips right into bad guy fighting mode. The fact that he isn’t defeated om-panel indicates that he may prove to be the one left to save the others.
Renato Guedes steps in as the illustrator this issue. His work is strong, but the opening scene is a bit by-the-numbers. It’s solid but unremarkable. However the second scene with Red Hulk, opens with a nice off-kilter panel cluster, so I liked that. That scene is much more innovative. The Iron Man/Protector scene is nice enough, but he really cranks it up in the Captain America sequence with really neat diagonal full page panels! Overall, his work is quite solid, bordering on daring.
Things look really bad for the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! I can’t wait to see how they get themselves out of this tight spot!
THE AVENGERS #21
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Renato Guedes
Cover by Daniel Acuna