by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), and Dean White (colors)

The Story: The Avengers check to make sure that Xavier and Namor’s infinity gems are safe.

The Review: Avengers #10 is, unfortunately, something of a stumbling block for the series after a couple of solid outings.

The main culprit is the story structure, which sees various Avengers checking on the locations of Xavier, Namor, and Stark’s infinity gems.  Clearly, Bendis intends for us to be impressed with where and how each character has hidden them, each in his own distinct fashion.  Unfortunately, it’s honestly not that interesting.  Each character basically puts them in just the sort of place you’d expect them to.  Worse still, there’s something bland and formulaic about the narrative structure: we follow the characters to each location, Bendis tries to wow us with each locations security feature, and then we get a look at each of the gems.  It almost feels like a tedious video game, with each location being a level to play through.

The other thing that dogs Avengers #10 and, I suspect, is something that will hinder the series for some issues to come, is just how many freaking characters there are.  Avengers #10 began to feel a bit like a bad issue of Uncanny X-Men, where any sense of an actual team is thrown out the window and there’s basically just a mob of X-universe characters moving about.  Here, it’s just that, but it’s the Avengers universe instead.  Bendis has slammed all the teams together, and I can’t even say that it was really all that necessary.  I mean, even the Secret Avengers show up and, as Iron Fist awkwardly points out, isn’t that a little off if they’re supposed to be, you know, “Secret?”

That said, while the main story and cast are problematic, Bendis still delivers on the character dialogue and banter, which is amusing throughout.  Ant-Man and Ironfist’s conversation is amusing, while Spider-Man and Noh-Varr have a fun dynamic.  Overall, what dialogue there is a pleasant read.

Also, outside of a couple of slightly muddy looking pages, John Romita Jr. really turned in a solid issue this month.  He handles the massive cast of characters well and gives us a good mix of old-school and modern to coincide with some strong action scenes and giant monsters.  His Danger Room scene in particular leads to a spread that is just awesome.  I also enjoy Romita Jr.’s cartoony take on the Hood quite a lot and, once again, he also has some fun with the Thing.  We’ve seen Ben Grimm with earmuffs and now we see him sullenly gripping a Big Gulp cup.   That’s pretty great.

Conclusion: A bit of a stumble in what has thus far been a really good arc.  While it succeeds in the little things, the major components have got some issues.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans