by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato & Howard Chaykin (art), Rain Beredo & Edgar Delgado (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: The Avengers continue the fight against Superia while in 1959, Nick and Dum Dum meet some new friends.

The Review: Oh, Howard Chaykin.  What the hell happened this month?  There’s got to be a story here.

That’s the first thing of note about this issue, unfortunately; Chaykin’s work is a disaster.  It is incredibly rushed and it looks completely unfinished.  Everything is oddly ill-defined, character anatomies are all over the place and, at times, barely human, and any form of detail flies out the window the minute we get far enough to see a character’s entire body.  Quite simply, this artwork is an embarrassment, especially from a guy like Chaykin.  At times, this artwork just looks cheap and even amateurish and then there’s even one panel in an action scene that is so gloriously botched that I’ve no idea how it made it to print.  Overall, there’s no polish and no sense of completion.  Frankly, I’m not sure how editorial let something so clearly rushed and unfinished onto the stands.

While that’s the biggest disaster this month, Brian Bendis doesn’t have a particularly good outing this month.  He does do the little things right, though.  The banter is enjoyable, particularly Spider-Man’s and the back-and-forth between Luke and Jessica.  Those are Bendis’ usual strong points.  However, from there, things sort of fall apart.  For instance, perhaps it’s because of Bendis’ decision to divide the issue between two stories, but nothing of note actually happens in the present day story.  We are literally exactly where we were last month: the Avengers are on the ropes, Mockingbird is lying on the ground dying; and we still have no idea what Superia’s plans were.

Worse than that though, is that very division of stories.   Bendis flashes back and forth between the 1959 and present day stories, but there is absolutely no link between them.   Quite frankly, I couldn’t imagine two more different stories.  That art is entirely different, the respective tones between the stories is entirely different (one an old school spy thriller, the other a superhero beat-em-up), and thus far, there is not a single shared plot detail between the two stories telling us why they inhabit the same comic book.

On the plus side, unlike the present-day portion, at least things actually happen in the 1959 narrative.  Nick and Dum Dum go recruiting and seeing who they call upon is fun and there’s an enjoyable running gag at Victor Creed’s expense that should get a couple of chuckles.  The dialogue is tight throughout and it’s clear that Bendis does quite well with the older spy tone.  Unfortunately, Chaykin’s horrific performance, or lack thereof, kind of spoils all of this.

While Mike Deodato holds up his end, giving us the art we’ve come to expect of him, overall this issue feels like a waste of four dollars.  Structurally, it’s a mess, with two stories that are completely alien to one another.  Plot-wise, nothing happened in one of these strands.

Conclusion: The worst issue of New Avengers since the relaunch.  Sorry, folks.

Grade: D+

-Alex Evans