by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade von Grawbadger (inks), Laura Martin & Rain Beredo (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: A mystically roided up Wolverine takes on Agamotto for the fate of the universe.

What’s Good: This arc has bothered in a way; Bendis seems so intent on convincing us of the scale and stakes of this conflict but, perhaps due to the facelessness of the bad guys, I never quite bought into it.  Last month’s issue promised a mystic battle of epic proportions, yet again, but this time, we get an issue that truly delivers on that.  New Avengers #6 is just as big in scope and action as it promises to be.

The duel between Wolverine and Agamotto is well done, with Agamotto taking on various forms from the Marvel Universe and Wolverine’s past.  It feels explosive and, well, powerful and in that sense, it does what it’s meant to.  What really helps out the duel, however, is how Bendis emphasizes the Avengers team and keeps it from being just “Wolverine vs. Agamotto.”  By watching the battle, showing concern, and giving support, the battle with Agamotto instead feels like a team effort by friends and, as such, it becomes a lot easier to root for Wolverine and emotionally invest in the battle itself.  It’s one of those situations where Bendis is really able to highlight the chemistry this team has.

The conclusion of the conflict will no doubt be a source of some controversy, but the event itself is well done.  Bendis delivers on his promise of a major character death and, all told, it’s done in good taste.  The character goes out in truly heroic fashion and it feels appropriately important and massive in scale.  Better still, it leaves behind a new and very compelling villain.  It also leads to an excellent final page where Daimon Hellstrom wonderfully sums up who the New Avengers are and what makes them unique as a team.

The real star this month, however, is Stuart Immonen.  His action scenes are as exciting as ever and his characters are, as always, very likable.  What’s really awesome though is how he alters his style when depicting Wolverine’s duel, which is rendered in a really awesome, almost painted feel.

What’s Not So Good: Yeah, that character death.  As I say, the event itself is a blast to read and it’s all very tastefully done, but it’s hard not to be miffed at just who gets killed.

I’ll try my best not to give it away, but it’s a character that had so much potential.  Worse still, Marvel, Bendis in particular, ironically enough, have done so much to build the character up over the last year or so that killing the character off now seems almost like a betrayal.  Perhaps this will be a short absence for the Avenger, which would admittedly be a bit more acceptable, but right now, it feels as though Marvel didn’t know what to do with the guy/girl, so just pushed him/her off the table.

I also found Ben’s dialogue to be a little off this month.  Ben has a very distinctive voice, so much so that Bendis can’t get away with having him say throwaway lines that sound exactly like any other character.  He may be able to get away with that now and then with some of the other Avengers, but not Ben.

Conclusion: Mixed feelings about that death aside, this is a fun issue that provides a strong finish to an at times uneven arc.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans