In the preview PDF, Dave McCaig is credited as the "colorisst," and I like that extra "s" in there. It's worth lingering for an extra letter when someone's as good as McCaig. He's such a versatile colorist -- just compare his "Northlanders" work to his "New Avengers" to his coloring on Karl Kerschl's Flash story in "Wednesday Comics" -- and he gives the story whatever it needs. Dave McCaig, colorisst. The added "s" is for superstar.
With McCaig doing his thing on top of Mike McKone's pages, this issue looks great. McKone has come a long way since his "Justice League Quarterly" days, and his presence on "Teen Titans" was essential to making the series the success it was. His recent stopover at "Amazing Spider-Man" was pretty strong, but this "New Avengers" stuff is even better. His characters look stamped on the page. Bold, vigorous, and dynamic.
Enough gushing about the art -- let's get to the real question: what is this issue about?
It's about relationships.
Specifically, it's about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. And Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse. Bendis gives us a parallel story here, as we see the parental concerns of the former two heroes and the rekindled spark of the latter two. All four of those Avengers have been through a lot lately, and Bendis gives them a moment to discuss where they are -- emotionally, physically -- and where they're headed. But he shrewdly couches these discussions in the middle of the "Siege" events, so there's plenty of superhero action to contrast with the relationship drama. Yet it doesn't feel wedged in. It feels like a more humanized view of the god-slaying events of Bendis' big blockbuster of a series.
And the way he plays the characters -- Cage and Jones as domesticated heroes, consciously or subconsciously longing for something else, and Barton and Morse as thrill seekers, possibly looking for something more stable, or at least a fresh start -- well, it feels as true as anything he's done with these characters yet. Bendis has struck to the core of these four Avengers.
But in the end, Bendis and McKone and colorisst McCaig leave us with more than just a story about a pair of superhero couples. They leave us with a knife in the gut. A reminder that it's all well and good to make plans for the future, but in a world full of villains and falling cities of the gods, it's more important just to survive.