By Warren Ellis (writer), Cary Nord (pencils), Dave Stewart (colors)

Now here’s an issue that caught me completely off-guard! You’d think with covers featuring Hulk and Iron Man we’d get a non-stop action ride full of pummeling. I mean, that’s why Cary Nord was brought on board – because his action is so dynamic, right? Well, toss all those preconceived notions out the window, because Warren Ellis gives us an issue that’s filled with tons of dialogue and all set indoors. The story begins so off-base that after the fifth page, I closed the book just to make sure I was reading the correct title!

Eventually, the story comes together and begins to make sense, but it only starts hitting you the last third of the book. Everything from that point on is very political and even confusing. Why? Because we’re put in England and while we understand that they’re up to their own superhuman project, it makes little sense on how it’s going to intersect with what Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have done. It’s only near the end that Ellis pieces together the puzzle (in brilliant fashion, no less), and gives us one heck of a pay off.

And poor Cary Nord. This must have been one of the toughest assignments he’s ever had as a penciler. Drawing 22 pages of people talking, and trying to keep it interesting must have been brutal. He succeeds with his task, for the most part. My only issue is that he made these government office spaces a tad too sterile. They’re devoid of life, as if no one’s ever lived there. And what’s with the dark laboratory that looks like a prison? This is a big funded experiment we’re talking about here – not the dark ages!

Anyway, if you’ve been following this series like me, be ready for a nice surprise with this issue. I love how unconventional it is – yet, it works. If this series were a TV show (because that’s what it feels like), this episode would be nominated for an Emmy (or something). Very cool. (Grade: A-)

– J. Montes