Hand of Deception
Wow, I know they’re heroes and all but unlike their slightly uppity Avengers counterpart, the New Avengers are definitely a group you DON’T want to screw with. Between Wonder Man’s ambush and Osborn’s two-pronged attack, this team of superheroes has gotten completely fed up with the villains attacking them in their own house! Following an embarrassing beating by the new Dark Avengers, Cage & co. are confronted by American military forces right on their own front lawn, and let’s just say it went down poorly. I still think that this entire Osborn scenario is getting to be too much between both books but at least this half of the story is keeping things interesting. I just wish that Luke (and Jessica) could learn to stop storming off by themselves every time there’s trouble.
Now the real star of this entire story, however, is Victoria Hand. Major kudos to the writers for the way they have delicately plotted her course since the very beginning of this series. We all naturally assumed that she was working for Osborn in some way, but to be honest even I didn’t see her double status working for Captain America coming. Her confrontation scene with the New Avengers showed a new level of ruthlessness from them, as they walked her through her own faux death by falling from a window, as well as a new level of depth for Victoria herself. Thank goodness for the living lie detector team, Daredevil and Wolverine, or who knows what might have come of Miss Hand. Following this entire debacle I am looking forward to seeing how her relationships within the team change and grow from this latest information.
Additionally, it was nice to see some crossover between the two parts of the storyline finally. Osborn’s grand design has been playing out in both main Avengers books but until this very issue we haven’t seen any connection between them, as though they were two completely separate stories. Here we finally saw the leaders of the Hand and Hydra, Gorgon and Viper respectively, sowing the first seeds of their deceiving Osborn (which I think we can all agree was just a matter of time). Then to see them both lording over the captive body of Captain America, brought a measure of continuity that I think the entire story was lacking.
And last but certainly not least, perhaps my favorite part of the entire issue, was the Avengers OTHER secret agent in Osborn’s midst: Skaar, Son of Hulk. Personally, I was excited when I saws him join Osborn’s Dark Avengers, something of an homage to his father, the original Hulk, being a founding member of the Avengers. Its funny because we see Skaar cause so much havoc (even if it sometimes isn’t on purpose) that we can easily forget that, when he’s not all green and Hulk-y, he’s just a little boy underneath. Seeing him scream “Avengers Assemble!” and betray his Dark Avenger teammates was not only shocking, but also a great cliffhanger to lead us into next issue’s finale.