by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Billy Tan (pencils & inks), Batt Tan (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors), and Albert Deschesne (letters)

The Story: The battle with Dormammu comes to its conclusion as Brother Voodoo makes use of his newfound power.

What’s Good: Brother Voodoo really is a very fun character and Bendis does a great job of playing up the dynamic Voodoo has with the spirit of his dead brother.  It’s good old-fashioned, schizophrenic fun with solid comedic legs. Speaking of comedy, Spider-Man was also on a roll this issue.  Pretty much everything that came out of his mouth made me laugh.  Son of Satan also continues to be a refreshing character as he continues his nonchalant attitude towards Dormammu

Most of this issue is spent on the actual action scenes between Dormammu and the Avengers.  Ultimately, though, the best moments of the book come at its end.  Loki’s appeal to the Hood is interesting to say the least and promises big things to come.  This is also definitely the case with respect to Clint’s last words in the book concerning what must be done with Norman.  Both scenes show great promise and left me itching to know what’s going to happen next.

Art-wise, there’s a whole lot of fire.  It’s all solid enough and the characters look good; basically, if you’re familiar with Tan’s work, you know what to expect.  The man most deserving of props is colorist Justin Ponsor who does a fantastic job with the all the flames and shadows.  Ponsor truly enhances Tan’s work and makes for an impressive Dormammu and a fairly pretty book overall.

What’s Not-So-Good: Unfortunately, while I do like Brother Voodoo as a character, towards the end of this issue, I really started to feel that the book was beginning to feel like too much of a shill for the upcoming “Dr.Voodoo” on-going.  From Son of Satan’s foreboding words of the upcoming challenges for Voodoo to Clint’s dubbing him “Dr. Voodoo” on video, it’s a little trying.

The biggest problem for this book though is definitely in Tan’s artwork.  When the majority of a book is spent on a giant action scene, it’s not good when there are several frames that are utterly confusing.  There were a few times where I just couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on during the fight.  There’s a particularly heinous pair of frames of Ms. Marvel on top of the demon that have me at a total loss.  Whether it’s due to Dormammu’s size/design or the flames, things just get a bit hard to discern.

Lastly, maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but Cap’s shield smacking Dormammu or, worse still, Mockingbird drop-kicking Dormammu just looks stupid, all the more so when I’m supposed to believe that Dormammu actually felt it.

Conclusion: A decent book with an interesting set of characters, but unfortunately the Avengers themselves play second fiddle.  An interesting ending can’t change the fact that this arc’s purpose was to sell a new series.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans