I'll be the first to admit that I'm burnt out on seeing "Dark Reign" comics at Marvel, but this current storyline in "New Avengers" is entertaining. It's definitely the start of Norman Osborn's plans cracking at the foundation; some of the bad guys are rebelling, others are pursuing their own plans, and collapse might be imminent. Unfortunately for our heroes, the New Avengers are trapped right in the center of it all.
I liked that Brian Michael Bendis doesn't cheat when it comes to the New Avengers getting away from the bad situation they were in last issue: depowered, knocked out, and surrounded by villains. There's no easy solution, and if anything things get worse before they get better. When the escape does come (because you know there has to be one or it's the end of this comic book series), it's logical and fun to read.
A lot of that fun is thanks to Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger's art, which is smooth and energetic as always. From the vertical panels showing the team sprawled out on the ground, to characters leaping through the air and swinging around the corner, there's a vitality to the pages that makes what could be plodding into something fun. Even a basic panel sequence of the Iron Man armor flying back onto its user is drawn in a way that evokes motion and grace. Immonen and von Grawbadger look great on any comic they draw, and "New Avengers" is no exception that rule.
The one big downside, though, is that Bendis' script feels almost ploddingly slow. Stories are inching along towards conclusion, and it's hard to not feel like another writer would have given us more development without losing any of the little details. Still, Bendis' script is livened up as much as possible thanks to Immonen. The return to last issue's subplot involving the Hood, Loki, and norn stones has such great visuals when the power kicks into high gear that it feels almost worth it just to see Immonen channel his inner Steve Ditko.
"New Avengers" is fun, but this is a title that really feels like it's being written for a collected edition (where the slow forward movement will seem less obvious) than as an issue-by-issue basis. Still, a new release of Immonen pencils every month is an awfully nice thing to get. With a little more speed and punch, "New Avengers" could go from good to great.