By Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Billy Tan (Pencils), Matt Banning (Inks), and Justin Ponsor (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: It’s about time! While I enjoyed the Secret Invasion stuff for the most part, I am definitely glad that New Avengers is back on track. I look forward to see what the series will be offering in light of Dark Reign.

The Story: In the aftermath of the massive Invasion battle, Captain America discreetly calls for a meeting of the “underground” Avengers. The group meets the next day, but the gathering is cut short when Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Carol Danvers show up in a panic looking for people to help find Danielle, the daughter of Cage and Jones that was last seen in the care of Jarvis, the butler now known to be a Skrull. With little hesitation, the New Avengers (with a slightly different lineup) are off in search of the baby and any Skrulls that may know the whereabouts of the one that was posing as Jarvis.

What’s Good: As the first issue of New Avengers to truly feel like an issue of New Avengers in quite some time, #48 definitely does not disappoint. In fact, I’d even say it manages to bring back a lot of fond memories about my experience with the very first New Avengers arc. That’s a very good thing considering how visually impressive and entertaining that turned out to be.

While it deals with some of the ramifications of Secret Invasion as it ties directly into Dark Reign, the book feels surprisingly fresh for a number of reasons. For starters, the dynamic between the characters (new or returning) is handled extremely well thanks to how Brian Michael Bendis uses the fallout from the Invasion as a means to force everyone to become reacquainted and reestablished. It makes the book quite friendly to new readers while at the same time reminding hardcore fans that the dangling plot threads will not only be accounted for, but also addressed. Couple that with the fact that the team lineup is still somewhat up in the air at the book’s fairly shocking conclusion, and you have more than enough reason to put New Avengers back on the pull list.

Also worth noting about New Avengers #48 is how impressive it looks. Billy Tan’s pencils look better than they ever and show that he obviously wants to make the most out of his work on one of Marvel’s biggest titles. There is some room for improvement, however, but I like what I see so far and look forward to what he has in store for the series.

What’s Not So Good: There are really only two things that nagged at me while reading. The first is that the relationship between Ronin (Hawkeye) and Mockingbird doesn’t really seem to jive at all with last week’s Dark Reign: New Nation one-shot. I understand that New Avengers: The Reunion is not coming out until a bit farther down the road, but I hope Bendis takes some time to address why Mockingbird’s stance towards Hawkeye is so icy in The Reunion as opposed what is shown in New Avengers #48. The other thing that bothered me a bit is the way Matt Banning’s inks seem to almost overpower some of the artwork. While only a minor annoyance, it is noticeable enough to warrant mentioning.

Conclusion: To all of those that decided to take a break from New Avengers while it worked through Secret Invasion, it’s time to get back on board. As for those that have never checked the series out, now would be a great time to give it a look.

Grade: A-

-Kyle Posluszny