After a disappointing first entry for All-New, All-Different Avengers, the series comes back strong for its second and final Avengers Standoff tie-in. Featuring a good balance of action and character, each of which serve to forward the overall narrative, this issue delivers a solid chapter that leaves the reader prepared for the impending showdown at Pleasant Hill. Spoilers begin after the jump.

The story begins en media res, offering a glimpse of carnage “fifteen minutes from now” before jumping back to “now.” Although this technique is not one that I generally support – defying chronological order just to create tension often seems like a cheap shortcut to me – I’m willing to give this trope a pass thanks to the awesome 2-page splash of the supervillains wrecking havoc upon Pleasant Hill.

In fact, this issue is filled with some very fascinating art. The reader needs only to progress past the recap page to be treated to a second 2-page splash, and one which plays with panels in order to show how Quicksilver saves the Avengers and the Unity Squad from Kobik’s command to sleep. Not only does it create an interesting page to look at, it effectively demonstrates how a static comic book page can be rearranged to express Quicksilver’s faster-than-the-eye speed.

From here the story follows the Avengers and the Unity Squad, each with their memories and natural abilities intact, as they work together to assess their situation. This includes the revelation of the actual identities of the two Maria Hills, an unanswered question that has been hanging over the narrative since the first tie-in. However, this revelation is interrupted by the return of Kobik, who tells them that everyone waking up “wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Before the Avengers can reason with Kobik, they are attacked by a squad of supervillains. The fight here is one of the weaker elements of the story, as it does little to show off the heroes’ respective abilities, mostly reducing the violence to generic punching and the like. However, the stylistic drawings that depict the heroes facing off against the villains in silhouette help elevate the fight to something more than a fist fight.

Fortunately, the book does not attempt to rely upon this altercation for the climax. Instead, as the carnage rages around them, Deadpool welcomes Kobik into his mind, and shares his pain – the pain he experiences as a result of having been used as a metaphorical plaything. Although Miles panics at the notion of introducing Kobik to Deadpool’s insanity, by sharing Deadpool’s experience, Kobik learns the error of her ways. “Make it right,” Deadpool tells her, and she returns our heroes to their proper forms, turning the tide against the attacking villains.

Although I could have used a little more development of the relationship between Kobik and Deadpool before she jumps into his mind – Deadpool has a long history of being protective of children, and it would have been interesting to see this aspect of his character play into the invitation to his brain – but it’s satisfying to see the altercation be resolved not through the fighting, but from a character-motivated experience.

Once the Avengers and the Unity Squad have been restored to their former heroic selves, Kobik vanishes, and the teams receive a call from Steve Rogers himself to assemble. It’s a great cliffhanger that leaves the reader chomping at the bit to see both Captain America and Rogers rejoin their respective teams and bring the Pleasant Hill conflict to a satisfying conclusion.

Creators: Mark Waid, Adam Kubert

Next Up: This week see the release of two more Avengers Standoff books – New Avengers #10 & Captain America #8 – before the final issue (Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1) is scheduled to be released the following week. In the meantime, stay tuned for more non-Standoff!

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