Just as last issue where Michael Gaydos returned to "New Avengers" to draw an issue spotlighting the character he helped co-create (Jessica Jones), so David Mack returns to draw an issue spotlighting the character he had a hand in creating - Maya Lopez, the deaf hitwoman-turned-heroine known as Echo.
Surprisingly little is made of Echo‚Äôs actual powers in this issue. From her appearances in "Daredevil," we know she has a taskmaster-style ability to exactly copy any movement she sees, but in this issue, it‚Äôs largely underplayed in favor of simply showing her as a formidable, if otherwise ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ human which, naturally, makes her a prime target for Skrull replacement. It‚Äôs not an inaccurate depiction per se, because her abilities aren‚Äôt superhuman in nature, but it does feels a little like one of Bendis‚Äô semi-frequent continuity glitches. It‚Äôs a minor matter, though, for an otherwise brilliant issue which places some long-overdue focus on Echo‚Äôs place in the New Avengers.
The plot gives us a rare look into the actual workings of Secret Invasion, as we see a Skrull attempting to defeat Maya in order to take her place on the team. The Skrulls, it appears, are all going to have access to a ridiculously wide array of powers - not just those of their specific target. This promises to make them incredibly difficult to fight. That said, if this issue is anything to go by, they also lack the experience to properly use their powers to best effect. Despite employing the powers of several different heroes, the attacking Skrull is defeated by Maya and Logan, but does manage to evade capture. Afterwards, Maya retires to the Avengers apartment, just finding enough time to sleep with Hawkeye. First Wanda, now Maya ÔŅĹ" man, that guy gets around!
It‚Äôs fairly straightforward superheroics, but when that‚Äôs done right, it‚Äôs no bad thing. It nicely plays off Maya and Logan‚Äôs history together (as shown in the pages of "Daredevil" some years ago) by pairing them up. Bendis is remarkably restrained with his dialogue, allowing Mack‚Äôs amazing pencils to speak for themselves. As someone only used to Mack‚Äôs painted work, I had to check the cover to make sure it was him, and I can‚Äôt believe a superhero artist of this calibre hasn‚Äôt been cajoled into doing more mainstream work. Every panel of every page looks great, retaining just enough of Mack‚Äôs ethereal painted style to really impress.
Finally, after months of build-up, it is actually starting to feel like Secret Invasion is here. If you‚Äôre not already reading "New Avengers," now‚Äôs the time to start ÔŅĹ" this title promises to be an unmissable piece of the event.