This storyline has been brewing for some time. Ever since the beginning of the Incursion story arc in the pages of New Avengers, in which Captain America was brought into the fold of the Illuminati both as a tactical consultant and to ensure that the group had a strong moral core. He was mind wiped the moment he didn’t agree with their direction so...mistakes were made. Dr. Strange did the mind wiping and if there’s one thing comics like to remind us, it’s that magic is unstable and unpredictable. Jonathan Hickman brings together his two Avengers team on not-so-friendly terms as Cap demands answers from Tony Stark. And he's brought some serious muscle to help "negotiate." This is a very centralized issue, the rest of the team is almost incidental, but the writing is strong enough to sustain it, making the rest of the team still feel fleshed-out. Stark, especially, comes off well in this, as he seamlessly transitions from jocular dismissiveness into deadly serious seemingly at the drop of a hat. I'm also a big fan of how both sides are written with good points. Much like in Civil War, you may not agree with one side, but both make good sense.
Leinil Yu provides the pencils and I’m absolutely thrilled to see him back on an Avengers book. The jagged, ultra-detailed style suits the hard-edged tone and the use of shadows by he, inker Gerry Alanguilan and colorist Sunny Gho provide further stylistic and tonal choices, communicating the moral ambiguity surrounding the entire story. The colors are dark and sharp, even the ones that take place in well-lit areas seem to have a pall or malaise hanging over them. Alanguilan’s inks really tie the whole issue together visually, crisply defining the characters and backgrounds, bringing order without sacrificing impact, to the jagged pencils.
This is a $4.99 book and a LARGE swath of it is taken up by a recap of the events from New Avengers. Eight pages, in fact. Nine if you count the standard Marvel recap page, which seems completely unnecessary this one time. The good news is that we get to see those events through a new stylistic lens of Yu’s visuals, and they DID take place in a different book, so it’s worth bringing them up for people who perhaps pick up one but not the other. The problem is that it goes on for almost a third of the issue, and while there are some panels inter-cut, it’s almost a word-for-word recreation, so anyone familiar with New Avengers is paying extra for content that is somewhat redundant. It also makes a very cool fight scene seem abrupt and cutoff.
This issue is about answering the question of Cap’s memories, but it sneakily slips in another unanswered question from the pages of New Avengers at the very end, and it’s that moment that leads to a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. One that takes the book in a potentially bizarre and completely different direction. I’m fascinated to see Marvel as a company taking risks with things like continuity and setting and this book is another example inline with that idea. While some of it might be familiar territory for some readers, it’s still very, very much worth looking into for both fans of this series and a MUST for followers of New Avengers.