Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Various
Thanks for this issue Mr Bendis. You made my decision to drop this comic from my pull list all the more easy with this disaster of a comic.
Let's start with the price - $4.99 US for a 37 page comic. The regular sized issue for this book has been bumped up to $3.99 as of late, so this isn't too bad, I suppose. However, when you take into account the number of problems with this book's contents, paying that much for this issue starts to sting that much more.
What problems, you ask? Well, take a long look at that beautiful cover. Looks great, doesn't it? That fight doesn't happen in this issue. The two teams don't even meet like in other fake fight covers. The art doesn't even look half as good as that cover. While covers, of late, haven't exactly focused on being entirely accurate, they usually reflect something that happens in the issue. Add in the cliffhanger from last issue promising this fight and the hype and solicits hinting at said cover fight and the fact we paid extra money for this is just downright disgusting.
Speaking of the subpar artwork, Billy Tan, the main artist for this issue, turned in one of the laziest artistic efforts I have ever seen. Upon opening the book, we're greeted to three straight pages of cut and paste duplicate panels, none of which were used to show passage of time or for comedic effect. Each page consisted of nothing but talking heads and the same artwork smeared across three or four panels. The "technique" (I use quotations because it takes no skill to cut and paste artwork as bad as these images were) is repeated six or seven times by Tan and the final couple of pages consist of Clint Barton sitting on TV with the same panel repeated over and over with mountains of dialogue balloons and the occasional minor tweak to his expression.
I usually reserve my anger at artists for hacks like David Mack, Rob Liefeld or Greg Land, people that simply trace photos and pass it off as their own work or simply have no real skill, but the "effort" Tan displayed in this issue, combined with the $4.99 price tag and lackluster bait and switch story, has left me so genuinely pissed off over the purchase of a comic that the only other time I've felt this upset over purchasing a comic was when Marvel brought back Aunt May back during the Final Chapter storyline at the tailend of the Clone Saga era.
As for the actual content of this issue, Bendis opted to spend several pages cutting and pasting dialogue from Dark Avengers #1 and #2, word for word, which, in hindsight, is probably what inspired Tan to phone his own workload in. On top of that, we were treated with the whole non-Dark Avengers fight, which was replaced with the eight or ninth New Avengers vs The Hood's gang fight in the past year or two - real original and inspired stuff, this time featuring nice big splash pages with chaotic fight sequences where you don't really see any actual fighting or the consequences of any actions, just cut aways of random scenes, each penciled by random artists, and ends with yet another instance of the New Avengers running away, which is the same thing we got in every other NA vs Hood gang fight. Powerful stuff. Note the sarcasm.
Verdict - Avoid It. Never have I paid so much for so little nor have I seen someone take 37 pages and do nothing but give a few guest artists some splash pages to sell online, as there's no story here and nothing new or interesting happening.