The recent AXIS event has changed Captain (I used to be Falcon) America and Luke Cage. The former is more ruthless, the latter is now selfish and money hungry. Iron Man has also become a jerk and has reverted to his pre-Iron Man ways!
Last issue, Luke Cage attempted to sell the Mighty Avengers brand to Cortex Incorporated (bad guys from the Inhumanity tie in arc from Mighty Avengers vol. 2. However, Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters made this legally not possible without the consent of others, so Luke skulks out (handy having a lawyer in the team). Waiting for him outside are a team of inverted Avengers including Iron Man and Captain America. Tony Stark has had enough of the Avengers brand being misused and won't stand for it any more!
Gideon Mace (all round bad guy, killed White Tiger's parents) is being wheeled down an alley when his helper disappears and is replaced by Jason Quantrell (CEO of Cortex Inc.). Quantrell tells Mace that whilst he has worked well for Cortex in the past, he needs to keep up with the world or be left behind. Jason "reassures" Gideon that Cortex won't let him be left behind, whilst showing off some super speed and teleportation powers (the CEO seems to have been upgraded). Mace is left alone in the alley with a shadowy alien like being behind him.
Back at the Gem Theatre and the two Avengers teams are squaring up: Medusa, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Odinson, Iron Man, Captain America and Luke Cage vs Power Man, White Tiger, Spectrum, Blue Marvel, Kaluu and She-Hulk. Realising who the “big guns” out of the Mighty Avengers are, Iron Man presses a button on his suit that releases a huge Ultimo robot in Greece, which the Blue Marvel immediately leaves to deal with. Also, with the a bit of luck from the Scarlet Witch, Tony manages to guess the electromagnetic frequency of Spectrum and absorbs her into his armour. Two down! Odinson squares up against Power Man, but he has the Chi of New York aiding him against the former god of thunder so holds his own. The battle moves quickly: Wasp initially attacks She-Hulk whilst Scarlet Witch lines up an attack. Kaluu blocks this so Luke Cage moves in but She-Hulk intercepts him. White Tiger (who gained control of the God that gives her her power) jumps in to support Power Man against Odinson but Medusa ties her up. Captain America takes to the sky to end things and aims his shield at Kaluu. Suddenly, a webline stops the shield just before impact!
Spidey has arrived on the scene and gives an impassioned speech to his former comrades questioning their actions whilst the citizens of New York rally behind him. Iron Man, recognising a PR disaster, tries to end this and aims his repulsor at Spider-Man. In the nick of time, Spectrum reappears from the Iron Man armour taking the repulsor with her. Blue Marvel also reappears, having dealt with Ultimo. Realising the odds are now against them, Tony plays possum and announces he was under the control of the Machinesmith and Monica just freed him from this possession. The inverted Avengers fall into line (Odinson needing some convincing from Wasp), saying they were just following orders and make their retreat. The Mighty Avengers, are confused – wondering whether to just let the inverted Avengers get away with it. Spectrum says it's one word against another and a crowd has built up so they are leaving it for now. Spidey is willing to give the inverted Avengers a chance, especially following his recent possession, but thinks they need an eye kept on them. Spectrum welcomes Spider-Man back to the team.
The issue ends with a shot of a dead Gideon Mace, he heart seemingly removed.
An impressive and intelligently written issue. The battle is well done with suitable people battling suitable people in suitable ways! The interchange between the participants so they can match up against an appropriate opponent is well done, as is the use of their various powers against each other. Tony Stark plays a very clever game, getting rid of big hitters Blue Marvel and Spectrum early on (albeit it not for too long). The story also allows us to believe how relatively new Avengers White Tiger and Power Man can stand up to the former God of Thunder. Well scripted and a good pace throughout the issue.
There's plenty of humour too, as I've come to expect from Ewing's writing. The little captions are great as ever as are a lot of the one-liners throughout the script. One thing I especially liked was Spider-Man's inclusion. All too often in team titles, Spidey serves as comic-relief and nothing else which is a little disrespectful to a character with a 50 year history of defeating most of the bad guys out there. Whilst Spidey's appearance isn't completely humourless, he does other things too: Arriving at the nick of time to save his old team mates and giving a heck of a speech to try and convince the inverted Avengers to back down. One thing the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man can do is rally the neighbours behind him. Top work.
The issue also managed to put in some threads to continue the story line of this comic when the AXIS event is over, setting up Cortex as a bigger threat then before. Well done all round!
The only reason this has not got top marks was the quick and convenient way the fight ended. Spidey had a point about giving the inverted Avengers the benefit of the doubt, but really? Machinesmith may have been blamed for Iron Man's actions and maybe feeding Captain America false information – but the others?