I had very high expectations for this book. In fact, I was all ready to buy the variant covers to "show my support", but after reading the internal content, I decided to save my money for something a bit more deserving. The redeeming quality of this book is its art. I really enjoyed each of the variant covers and the interiors, but the story just left so much to be desired. The "Marvel Avengers Prelude" mini-series has more to offer than this story, and that is primarily about Nick Fury dealing with politics. I guess it is possible that because book was not tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (like the Fury story), my expectations were far too high - that, and I shouldn't have judged it by its cover(s).
Story: 2.5 / 5.0
With all the potential of not being tied specifically to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a large pool of characters to draw from, this story fell flat on its assembled face. The cover makes you believe that it would have been directly tied to the movie, featuring each of the main superheroes in the cast, but instead the interior story is set in a universe with many more Avengers. This made me believe that the story would be more in-depth and take advantage of the larger Avengers team. This was not the case - after Cap's public announcement the story was based solely around the movie characters battling a "brand new" group of super-villains - the Zodiac.
Cover Art: 4.5 / 5.0
I really enjoyed the cover art. It was the primary reason I picked this issue up. I am glad though that I did not pick up the more rare variants, because as beautiful as these covers are, the story does not justify the extra expense.
Art: 4.5 / 5.0
The interiors were beautiful as well. This story could have been a five if they kept all the art, panel/page layouts the same and replaced all the text in the dialog box/bubbles. It was the dialog that really ruined the story for me, because each page was more visually appealing than the last. I will continue to pick up this series for the art, and just hope the story gets better.
Overall: 3.5 / 5.0
Aside from not meeting my expectations where characters are concerned, the way many of the superheroes have been written was far from what I have become accustomed. Cap seemed way too cheesy, Hulk far too dumb and Hawkeye should have been mute. Even Thor seemed under-powered during battle - I really would have expected him to handle the threat with greater ease. The only two characters that seemed remotely close to "normal" were Iron Man and Black Widow, and for the most part they were useless in this part of the story. The most impressive performances were played by the villains, but even those were over-dramatic and felt a bit forced.
I get it, they want to establish a set of villains that could easily overwhelm one or two of the Avengers on their own, thus proving the point that they have to "Assemble" to save the day. Got it. Okay, so assemble already, work as a team. Also, where did this Hulk come from? I would have much rather seen Red Hulk than Dumb Green Hulk.
I guess it is possible that this will get better, so I will hold out a bit of hope. Heck, from here it can't get much worse. Oh, and if this is any indication of how the movie characters will act and speak, it is time to get worried...