By: Matt Fraction (writer), Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade von Grawbadger (inks), Laura Martin (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Lauren Sankovitch (assistant editor) & Tom Brevoort (editor)

The Story: The finish line is in sight as the Avengers rally to take on the Serpent and his minions.

What’s good: Well, at this point, we have to look for silver linings because this “event” hasn’t been very good.  Not atrocious, mind you….but not worthy of having 80+ associated titles and disrupting all the other Marvel ongoings.

But….there is one good thing about this issue and that is the anticipation of what’s next! Something is going to happen here at the end.  It may not be something you like and it may not be an event where you’ve enjoyed the path to get there, but it will be a happening that impacts the Marvel Universe.  And, isn’t that the whole purpose of the line-wide event?  With mainstream superhero comics, the anticipation is usually better than the actual product anyway.

Thus ends the “search for the silver lining” part of the review.

The art is also pretty good.  It isn’t the best Immonen that we’ve ever seen, but even if he is a little rushed (or bored by the story, perhaps?), this is a very attractive comic book.  And you cannot beat Laura Martin colors.

What’s not so hot: The first panel of this issue is all kinds of a mess that just set the issue down the wrong path.  It features the Avengers carrying Thor (no Spoiler here since they’ve been teasing the hell out of this scene).  It has all the look of a medical evacuation because Steve Rogers is bellowing, “Man Down!  Man Down!!”  What the hell is that all about?  Is a medic going to pop out to administer CPR to the fallen God of Thunder?  It’s a nonsensical bit of dialog.  Why would Cap say that?  And, the panel features the entire team carrying Thor.  I could see Cap and Hawkeye having to work together to pick Thor up, but they also have Ms. Marvel and Luke Cage helping out.  Luke could just pick up Thor by himself and Carol could fly away with him.   Wouldn’t they just get annoyed with Hawkeye “helping” the way we kinda get annoyed when a child “helps” us move the couch and you have to carry it from a weird angle just to let the kid help?  Dumb scene…

Loads of other annoyances in this issue: This fixation on what the common man will think when they see the Avengers retreating, Cap acting all kinds of pissy with Odin, the Worthy being summoned back to the Serpent’s side without a single transitional panel showing them making the trip (they just appear in a line up) and the tease of Iron Man’s weapons being finally revealed next issue…..ugh.

The biggest problem is that this “event” was a very thin idea.  Odin’s long lost brother (who we’ve never heard of before) shows up, gives a bunch of dudes hammers who will be defeated by Avengers with super Asgard weapons.  Fraction may surprise us, but I’m expecting something cliche like Cap getting an Asgardian shield (with Hawkeye getting a bow and Luke Cage getting a super chain).  This isn’t a “bad” story, but it just isn’t complex enough to be merit a 7-issue miniseries, much less all the related miniseries and hijacking all the ongoings.  This should have been a 2-month crossover amongst the Avengers/Iron Man/Thor titles.

Conclusion: The art is still pretty good, but it can’t make up for a story that is too lightweight to be called an “event” and some cringe-worthy dialog (“Man Down!”).  On the positive side, it is almost over and you can be pretty sure that something will happen that is important to the Marvel Universe.

Grade: C-

– Dean Stell