By Brian Michael Bendis (writer), David Mack (art), Jose Villarrubia (colors)

Cover artist and Kabuki creator, David Mack sits in for this stand-alone issue of New Avengers! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this issue’s a bit late because the image of Echo on the cover had to be re-done due to the blatant cover swipe done by David Mack. It’s a good thing, though – the new rendering of Echo is actually more in-line with how she’s drawn within the book’s interior.

Brian Bendis has been setting Secret Invasion up for a while now and this issue acts very much as a precursor (of sorts) to the upcoming mini-series. This small story is very much an Echo and Wolverine story with a dash of Hawkeye thrown in at the end. Most of it is centered around the Skrull menace, and while no Avenger is “outted” as a Skrull, we’re shown what these aliens are capable of and how they go about infiltrating a team like the Avengers. It’s interesting to see, but it’s also something we’ve already seen before in Avengers: Illuminati. We’re also shown a glimpse of a budding romance between Echo and Hawkeye, but to be honest, it all feels a bit tacked on. Even forced.
Not helping matters is David Mack’s art. I know, it’s hard to believe. Maybe I’m just spoiled and used to seeing his beautiful painted stuff, because his pencils and inks here are average – and worse, his storytelling is very mediocre. Those who are keen enough will notice a lot of “lifted” poses for the characters, especially when it comes to the fight scenes. There’s also a double page splash that feels completey wasted and devoid of any kind of energy. Don’t get me wrong, I love David Mack’s body of work but his art in this issue is bad enough to where it detracts from the story.

Consider this issue the calm before the storm. If you’re anticipating Secret Invasion, you’ll want to pick this up just to stay within the loop of things. Everyone else: proceed with caution. (Grade: C-)

– J. Montes