By Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Billy Tan, Matt Banning, Justin Ponsor, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, and Antonio Fabela (Artists)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: Under normal circumstances, I would use up this spot to give my thoughts on where my opinion stands regarding whatever series/work/event I am about to dive back into or, in some cases, dive into for the first time. However, these are not exactly normal circumstances considering that this is the first review I have posted since taking a break from the site in order to deal with a number of medial issues. As such, I feel that this space is best used to say that it feels great to be back and I look forward to picking up where I left off by informing, entertaining, and interacting with the great Weekly Comic Book Review community as much as I possibly can. So, with that said, it is now time to get down to business. And remember! Questions, comments, concerns, and debate topics are always welcome.

The Story: Since Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme (after a spell dealing in the dark arts), that means someone else is. Or someone will be soon enough… Strange knows this, as does The Hood (among others). Who will find, or do what’s necessary to become the new Sorcerer Supreme? That is the question that dominates most of The New Avengers #51. As for the rest, since a new team means a new leader, the Avengers gather up for an old-fashioned meeting to try to straighten out the new hierarchy.

What’s Good: I’ve got to say that the latest New Avengers surprised the hell out of me. And it’s not because of some shocking twist, or an earth-shattering revelation, or a stunning image.  Nope. It’s simply because the creative team behind New Avengers #51 actually managed to make me give a damn about the situation surrounding the question of who is/ will be the new Sorcerer Supreme. Chris Bachalo’s stylish visuals coupled with Brian Michael Bendis’ compelling dialogue made me glad I picked up the first New Avengers I had considered skipping in quite some time.

As for the non-Sorcerer Supreme related stuff in the issue, your enjoyment will depend a lot on what you think of Bendis’ flair for team banter and Billy Tan’s handling of the more casual moments of superhero life. It worked well enough for me and did little to detract from my overall impression of the issue. In fact, I found the dialogue to be rather humorous and I wouldn’t be surprised if you did too.

What’s Not So Good: (Slight spoiler warning!) I wish I knew more about the Young Avengers prior to reading the issue because I had absolutely no idea who Dr. Strange was talking to until pausing to hit up the interweb to look for some answers. As it turns out, Billy is a Young Avenger named Wiccan (cue the “the more you know” jingle). Anyways, besides Bendis’ assumption that I would know the Young Avengers on a first name basis, my only complaint about the issue mostly has to do with my general distaste for comic books that feature more than one art team. While both teams did a nice job, the shift back and forth between visual styles was a bit jarring.

Conclusion: There is a lot I liked about the latest issue of The New Avengers. Chris Bachalo’s art was impressive, Billy Tan continued to show improvement, and Brian Michael Bendis made the beginning of the search for a new Sorcerer Supreme quite compelling. While I’m sure some will be a bit irked by the team meeting (or the art team changes), the good stuff ultimately outweighed the bad by a large margin.

Grade:  B

-Kyle Posluszny