Synopsis:The issue begins with a brief recap of Infinity. The Avengers have left the Earth to oppose the ancient race of beings known as the Builders, leaving the planet vulnerable to Thanos and his "Mighty" invading force. One of his lieutenants, Proxima Midnight, offers to kill the city the heroes call home, New York. Thanos at first refuses, saying that New York has been earmarked for destruction by another of his underlings, the Ebony Maw, but Midnight suggests that she attack as a diversion, drawing the focus away from the Maw so that he may complete his objective. Thanos agrees.
Down in New York, the Heroes For Hire (Luke Cage, Power Man & White Tiger) are battling the criminal Plunder and his henchmen, who are trying to steal a crate of Spider Bot parts from Horizon Labs. This of course draws the attention of the not-so Superior Spider-Man, who immobilises Plunder (whose real name is Parnival...what?) with a single kick. He then insults the others, labeling them as mercenaries and criticising them for being, well...Heroes For Hire. This leads White Tiger to resign, as she wanted to make a difference in the world instead of guarding crates. Otto then leaves with Parnival (Seriously, that's a weird name?) with Power Man hurling bizarre insults at him (better than no insults) Cage calms him down and the two head off for a coffee.
Meanwhile, a motormouth criminal known as Blue Streak (it's just one of those days isn't it?) is tearing up through the
street with a sack of loot. He's soon confronted by Monica Rambeau, whose now calling herself Spectrum (Cool name!). She notes that this could end inside a lead coffin, but since she's trying to "rebrand", she decides to "be nice", triggering an explosion that knocks Blue Streak into the arms of the waiting police. Job done, Monica heads back to her friend Luc, who owns a shop selling specialised costumes, to comment on the "test drive". She's greeted by a mysterious figure in shadow, who seems to know her and requires her help with saving the world (Curiouser and curiouser?)
Elsewhere, Power Man is complaining about the "Superior Spider-Man" (Wow, I never expected to have something in common with this guy?) and White Tiger quitting while Cage tries to enjoy his coffee. He points out to Victor that Ava looks up to Spidey (As the real one caught her parents killer), and mentions that once he'd have put the wall crawler through a wall for that attitude (Shame). He talks about how his family is all that matters to him now, but he feels he needs to do more as he doesn't want this world for his daughter. Vic just assumes that Cage is missing being an Avenger and storms off, not realising that Cage was about to suggest forming his own team of Avengers. Cage then texts Jessica Jones (who has messaged him earlier about picking up baby wipes and milk), saying they need to talk about work.
It's at this point that Thanos' army invades the Earth, with Proxima Midnight landing in New York, instructing her army to kill eveything in sight. Monica & Luke hear the explosions and Otto observes the whole thing from a perch (like the vulture he is!). Monica's mystery guest states that they have other priorities, but she disagrees and asks that he help her. For some reason, the stranger can't be seen in the US, so Monica reminds him that they're in a costume shop before leaving.
Spectrum, Cage and...Octavius take on the invaders. They are soon joined by the stranger, who is clad in a makeshift costume resembling Spider-Man's with the logo Spider Hero (no hyphen), which sends Otto into a rage (because y'know, there's nothing else going on that's more important). Proxima Midnight announces to the heroes that their world is doomed because "the mother birds have fled the nest". Cage, without hesitation, replies "okay, you want the Avengers lady? Take a good look, we're the Avengers"...
With a total of eight other Avengers titles lining the stands, this series has the tough task of proving right out of the gate that it has it's own identity and voice from the rest, and thankfully, it succeeds with flying colours.
At first, I resisted the idea of Luke Cage being involved with the Avengers again. His departure at the end of Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers was a nice nod to the end of Bendis' run as writer, so bringing him back was questionable to say the least. It's good then that Al Ewing's characterisation of Cage is very strong. Cage is a man devoted to his family, but he also wants a better world for them, and he doesn't hesitate to identify himself as an Avenger when the threat comes knocking. It makes him very likable and sympathetic.
The "Superior Spider-Man" is pretty much the same as ever, arrogant, condescending and generally unlikable, but he does have a point about the Heroes for Hire and he actually provides some of the issues biggest laughs (something the real Spider-Man did way more often), the best one being his reaction to the Splendiferous Spider Hero, whose true identity is defintely a mystery I'm excited to see unveiled. Otto's more negative qualities are also more acceptible here as Ewing uses them to sow discord amongst the team. I wouldn't be surprised if "Spidey" quit the team after a few issues, but I'm still holding out for a scene of Cage losing his cool and taking that web-headed imposter down a peg or two.
It's cool to see another veteran Avenger on the team in the form of Monica Rambeau, whose new moniker of Spectrum is also very cool, and Power Man is surprisingly funny despite his overbearing personality. White Tiger practically has a cameo in this issue, but she still has a presence and I buy her decision to quit the HFH. The threat of Thanos and his army is a great way of banding this team together (as well a good reference to the third act of Avengers Assemble), Proxima Midnight is a creepy enough antagonist for the heroes and Thanos' appearance at the opening of the issue was very much appreciated.
Greg Land's work for this debut issue is rather mixed. While he draws the masked characters very well and there are plenty of colourful and dynamic action shots, there is still the recurring facial expressions he's known for, some of which look rather weird. Regardless of that, this is a brilliant start to this new title and I'm sooo looking forward to the next issue. Avengers Assemble!
Sorry, I just had to do that...