It is finally revealed how Norman Osborn has suddenly been exhibiting strange super powers; he’s a Super Adaptoid.  (The Avengers’ power-mimicking answer to The Justice League’s Amazo.)  Anytime anyone touches him, he becomes able to copy their super powers and unfortunately, The Red Hulk doesn’t realize this as he punches him.  Having previously touched The Vision, this Osborn Hulks-out and is nearly unstoppable!  (Just for reference, Osborn Hulk is purple.)  Osborn battles Iron Man and The Hulk, while the rest of the team battles a pack of mystical Hand ninjas.  “I hate them like Indiana Jones hates snakes,” remarks Spider-Woman.  Storm whips up a tornado and sends Osborn flying, while Iron Man dispatches the ninjas.

Osborn recovers quickly, but luckily the two newest Avengers don’t need to be anywhere near a target to strike.  First Storm barrages him with lightning, then Quake gives him an earthquake in his heart!  But he keeps coming, as more and more Avengers arrive to join the fray.  Ultimately, his new powers betray him and he is nearly destroyed!

The Avengers take Agent Washington, the turncoat S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who came up with the plan to duplicate all of the heroes’ powers, into custody.  The President tells Captain America to hold a press conference, an idea that Cap resists and the issue closes with Madame Hydra stepping into Osborn’s seat of power.

Brian Michael Bendis revitalized the Avengers franchise which had been meandering for years, struggling with a cast riddled with third rate characters and a lack of consistency.  Bendis brought a fresh, startling approach to the book, adding such “Wait, what?!” members as Luke Cage, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Dr. Strange to the roster, and really made them click and work within the Avengers structure.  No one writes fresher, crisper dialogue in comics.  It’s so casual and conversational, it reads effortlessly.  And it’s funny!  Does anyone write a funnier Spider-Man?  That’s a tough one!  But he’s never sacrificed drama and super heroic action.  As tired as I am with Norman Osborn, he really took the Avengers to the brink of failure this issue.  So thanks to Bendis for one of my favorite runs on the Avengers books ever!

Daniel Acuna’s watercolor-like art is always very pleasing and pretty to look at, but he nails the action sequences as well.  The Bendis run is going out in style!

I think even if you haven’t read the issues leading up to this one, this still stands as a satisfying blind read.  It’s clever and fun and over-the-top.  It looks spectacular.  It’s a solid book!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover by Daniel Acuna