Madame Hydra flaunts the captured Captain America in hopes of coercing the US government into arresting the Avengers and placing Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R. in charge of defending the Earth.  At first, it appears that she came to the negotiation unarmed, until her Hydra henchmen Hulk out, turning into powerful monsters!  Two scientists, the abrasive Dr. Rappaccini and the awed Dr. Washington, are in charge of keeping the rest of the Avengers secured, which they manage, despite their constant bickering.  However the least likely hero manages to turn the tide in the favor of the good guys, and one by one, The Avengers… ahem… Assemble.  But Norman Osborn, once more exhibiting abilities he’s never shown before, takes down one of the team’s mightiest members and surrounds the escaped heroes with a pack of Hand ninjas.

Daniel Acuna’s art is always lovely and this is no exception.  He just does everything right, from flawless facial expressions to fluid movement to smooth story-telling.  There’s not always a ton of detail, but it’s a fair trade-off.  At the very least, the art on this book makes it worth the price of admission.

As for the story itself, clearly this book is careening into a crossover with ‘The New Avengers,’ and I hope that happens sooner rather than later.  It’s not that I’m anxiously awaiting the end of Bendis’ tenure!  I’ve been a fan from his first issue!  But the whole thing feels a tad been-there-done-that.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, once this storyline is over, Norman Osborn needs to be packed away for several YEARS.  I’m so tired of him and his quest for power!

As far as characterization, Iron Man, The Vision, Red Hulk, Spider-Woman and Quake all get some nice beats, as do the two AIM scientists.  Cap, Storm and Hawkeye barely register.  But it’s an ensemble and with so many villains partaking in this particular storyline, everyone can’t receive focus in every issue.  Honestly, though, I don’t know why Storm’s even in this book.  She’s not really had much to say or do and we all know that once A vs. X rolls around, she’s going back over to the X side of the fence.

All in all, it’s a consistent issue.  The quality is there.  But if I were picking this up cold, I don’t think the story would be compelling enough for me to try another issue.

Verdict: Borrow

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Daniel Acuna
Cover by Renato Guedes