The New Thunderbolts consists of a team of reformed supervillians that are under the authority of the U.S. Government (The Commission on Superhuman Activities). The current incarnation of the team consists of Photon, Radioactive Man, Songbird, Atlas, and Speed Demon.
The Feds are understandably not happy that Captain America has re-formed the Avengers without any governmental or UN oversight (plus that they have already gone up against SHIELD in the Savage Land doesn't make the government feel secure with a rogue superhero team running around, even if it is headed up by a super patriot who wraps himself in a flag and has been an American icon for better than 60 years). Needless to say, certain shadowy elements within the government have determined that now is the time to do something about it, and determined to set the New Thunderbolts on the Avengers.
The story starts out with a memo from Dallas Riordan, Deputy to the Director of the Commission of Superhero Activities (CSA) to Carol Danvers, Director of the Homeland Security Agency regarding the status and line up of the T-Bolts; as well as second memo to Riordan from Peter Henry Gyrich, Assistant to the Director of the Tactical Awareness regarding The New Avengers. What Gyrich (no friend of the Avengers) wants is to have the government-sanctioned Thunderbolts bitch-slap Captain America and the new Avengers around for utilizing a "loophole" in their charter to re-form. From here the story jumps to Midtown Manhattan where the T-Bolts are in the middle of taking (a female) Dr. Spectrum, whom they manage to apprehend.
Cut to a darkened control room within CSA HQ, in Washington, D.C., where Danvers, Gyrich, and Riordan are discussing both teams. It is decided that they are going to sic the T-Bolts on the Avengers, and Riordan flies up to the Brooklyn. NY HQ of the T-Bolts to set it up. The Avengers are very carefully drawn out to the Jersey shore by a faked distress signal, where they discover an enormous Transformer named Red Ronin standing on the shore. Only as soon as the Quinjet arrives on the scene, Ronin disappears revealing itself to be one of Songbird's sound constructs.
No sooner than it disappears, Atlas smashes the Quinjet, spilling the Avengers into the night sky and into the waiting arms of the attacking T-Bolts. Thrown off balance by the unwarranted attack, the Avengers don't quite to know what to make of the attack by these (supposed) heroes. The two groups square off with Speed Demon taking on Spidey, Songbird going for Cap, Radioactive Man going up against his old foeman, Iron Man, Photon took on the Sentry, and Titan took on Cage (long-time Marvel readers will remember that Cage (formally called Power Man) once kicked the tar out of Atlas (also formally called Power Man, which, of course was why Cage slapped him around, and why Atlas changed his name).
Atlas grabs Cage, and tosses him way out into the Atlantic, and the fight rages on in earnest. Meanwhile, Joystick breaks into Avengers Tower only to find Spider Woman in residence. Back at CSA HQ, Colonel Danvers is holding court with the Vice President and someone who appears to be Ant Man (Scot Lang). (The story ends here, but according to the "next issue" caption, it appears that it actual is Lang, back from the dead.
As always, it is a bit difficult to fully ascertain precisely what is going on when you step into the middle of the continuity of another series, however, veteran writer Fabian Nicieza does a solid turn of explaining who all the characters are and what is going on for the new reader. Having said that, it actually is a treat to watch a different superhero team attempt to go up against the Avengers, not for gain or profit, or even to take over the world or revenge, but simply because their government bosses told them to do so, even though they are so obviously conflicted over their orders.
Nicieza clearly shows that not only the T-Bolts but Danvers and her team also are clearly upset about having to do what they feel they must do to protect the citizens and soil of the U.S. These are not easy times, and this is clearly this is an interesting series to be writing in these days. This looks like a series that bears watching.
The cover of the comic harkens back to classic Avengers covers where two teams are facing off against each other.