The last issue of âMighty Avengersâ felt far more like a missing issue of âNew Avengersâ, so itâs fitting that this issue of âNew Avengersâ feels more like the missing issue in the âNew Avengers: Illuminatiâ miniseries, not least because itâs reuniting (two-thirds of) the creative team, as Bendis writes with Cheung handling art.
With the next issue of the âSecret Invasionâ miniseries still some way off, itâs good that the two Avengers titles are doing the heavy lifting in terms of moving the plot along. Even so, itâs almost bizarre that weâve now had two issues of "Avengers" that donât go anywhere near the teams themselves -- this time, the Fantastic Four get more page-time than any of the bookâs actual cast (well, sort of) and the only Avenger who shows up isnât even on the âNewâ team anymore! The story is set in the past, showing Skrull history from the events of âNew Avengers: Illuminatiâ (even replicating and expanding a scene from that book) through the destruction of their homeworld by Galactus, right up to the recent past and the launch of their invasion.
Itâs a big issue in terms of explaining both how and why the invasion came about, as well as throwing probably the biggest curveball possible at the end of the issue by revealing the identity of one of the potential Skrulls. Thereâs no confirmation of whether the suggested replacement went ahead as planned or if it simply might be yet to happen, but if it did it suggests that there are more strings being pulled here than anyone realizes. It is an inspired, if incredibly dangerous choice.
Ongoing story aside, itâs nice to see Bendis doing his best to bring back the single-issue story. As one of the architects of âdecompression,â itâs a welcome change to see him focusing on shorter chapters, even if the focus is on the wider arc. If you werenât a reader of âSecret Invasionâ or âIlluminatiâ, this issue would be fairly important as a story in its own right given the backdrop of the last year or so in âNew Avengersâ.
Likewise, "New Avengers"' rotating guest artist trend hits yet another high with Cheungâs work. Drawing this many Skrulls could send an artist round the bend, but Cheung actually manages to make each one distinct and full of personality. Heâs one of Marvelâs finest artists at the moment, and itâs just a shame he turns up so irregularly.
âSecret Invasionâ has only recently begun in earnest, but issues like this make it feel like itâs been unfolding for years. An essential read for anyone following that story, even if youâre not following this specific Avengers team.