by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade von Grawbadger (inks), Dave McCaig (colors), and Albert Deschesne (letters)

The Story: Mockingbird and the crippled Avengers battle the Wrecking Crew and their power drainer. Meanwhile, Dr. Harrow gives Norman Osborn an offer he can’t refuse.

What’s Good: About 85% of this issue is composed of action scenes surrounding the Wrecking Crew. As such, it’s an enjoyable, light read that’s certainly quite exciting. Mockingbird picking up and using Bucky Cap’s shield and gun was a definite highlight and one does get a sense of the impossible odds she’s up against.

I also liked the narration by Mockingbird, who’s been fairly neglected over the past few issues. It’s clear that Bendis has a lot of love for the character, as the captions succeed in adding character, touching repeatedly on some of her dissatisfaction with Clint while putting forward her brazen and sassy attitude, while also enhancing the feeling of desperation.

All in all, it’s a simple, fun issue and the opening scene with Mockingbird fighting the Wrecking Crew is golden. Also, Loki’s presence, however brief, is always welcome in any Marvel comic. He/She just wreaks of malevolence, as always.

What’s Not So Good: At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what the point was of having this internal narration by Mockingbird, only to have it end within 7-8 pages; but then later on I realized Bendis needed to cram in Dark Reign and couldn’t have Osborn’s conversation with Harrow without ending Mockingbird’s narration. I just felt a little cheated.

Speaking of the Dark Reign conversation, I’m not sure I buy Dr. Harrow being such a massive threat to Norman Osborn. I mean, this is Dr. Harrow we’re talking about here and his big trick is draining powers.  Surely, power drainers have been done a multitude of times before. It’s such a basic, unimaginative concept, that while it’s enough to make Harrow a legit New Avengers villain, no way is it enough to carry him to the upper echelons of the Marvel Universe’s power structure.

The power drainer itself is also a bit of a problematic plot device as well, since it basically leads to the Avengers groaning and limping around for an entire issue. The drainer isn’t lethal in and of itself, it just makes them sick.  It seems as though Bendis couldn’t decide whether or not the drainer would render them unconscious, so instead he has opted for some awkward middle ground of heroes lying around, then standing up for one perfectly timed action before collapsing again.

Meanwhile, I want to make clear that I love Stuart Immonen’s art.  That said, I’m still not sure that it fits a comic like New Avengers. Immonen’s art makes the Avengers look like an Image superhero comic, not an ultra mainstream blockbuster. It feels oddly diminishing. I think Immonen does great work, but I don’t think this is the right title for him to be on.

Conclusion: A solid issue that suffers from a few irritants and some curious artwork.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans