By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Brandon Peterson & Mike Mayhew (art), Jason Keith (colors), and Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: In the day after the Phoenix calamity, a lost Avenger triggers her emergency beacon.

The Review: This review is a tough one to write due to the fact that I could easily come at it from two different angles, one positive and the other negative.  Let’s do the former first.

On the one hand, I really enjoyed the feeling of “the morning after.”  After all the AvX craziness, Bendis does a good job of giving the feeling of a new day having dawned and our heroes relaxing in their own unique ways, finally able to unwind and release tension.  As a reader, reading this, I sort of shared that and reading this issue felt like letting out a giant sigh and getting comfy in readiness for the next thing.  And hey, there’s a Wolverine beer joke, which is always good.  I will also say that Mike Mayhew’s art during these portions also suit that tone perfectly.  His photo-realistic, almost painterly style has that natural lack of tension, that grandiose, relaxed tone that matches Bendis’ script.

On the other, more negative hand, I can see the complaint about this issue not really giving the reader his/her money’s worth.  Readers necessarily want story and not pages of people relaxing and saying “well thank God that’s over.”  There’s a sense that serial publication, to be satisfying, needs to be one thing after the other relentlessly, never stopping for a beat in order to ensure that each and every issue is of value.  Myself, I enjoyed getting an issue to unwind, but I can understand that standpoint.

Bendis does introduce a new plot this month and it is an interesting one involving interdimensional travel, aliens, and sci-fi goofiness.  It’s reasonably interesting, certainly more interesting than anything he’s offered in this title over the past few months, but we get precious little of it.  The plot is just barely introduced and put on the table, nothing more.  In this sense, this is the dreaded decompressed first issue, as there isn’t much beyond an introduction.

While I greatly enjoyed Mayhew’s artwork (though I can see some decrying its photo-referencing), the choice of splitting duties between Mayhew and Brandon Peterson is also a questionable one given that the two artists are completely different in, well, just about everything.  The results are that the shifts can be pretty jarring.  I’ll also admit that it didn’t help that I enjoyed Mayhew’s art more but again, I think that’s a matter of personal taste.  That’s really the unavoidable predicament of when there are two artists of such differing styles are crammed into one issue – you’re bound to like one guy’s work more than the other, which makes the issue only seem more fragmented.

For what it’s worth, however, I appreciated the sense of unwinding that Bendis gives us and I do think that this could be the start of a really solid story.  Certainly, it left me interested in picking up and reading the next issue, which isn’t something I could say for this title in the few months.

Conclusion: A decent starting point, but precious little more than that, to a promising plot and a nice chance to relax and unwind, which may not be every reader’s ideal way of spending money.

Grade: B-

– Alex Evans