Plot: Two shady groups, the Shadow Council and the Hai-Dai, are uniting with a very bad Nick Fury LMD to target Shang-Chi. Steve and Natasha aren’t about to allow that to continue.
Comments: Since Avengers has gone back to sci-fi and New Avengers is all mystical at the moment, this is the team book that most directly carries on the legacy of Bendis’ original New Avengers team of street fighters. It’s not really the same tone as Bendis’ band of angry and persecuted brooders, however. This is more akin to Brubaker’s take on the legacy of Marvel’s ’70s B movie characters, with spies, kung fu, and demons mixing it up in bad ass splendor, mostly under cover of the night.
In a word, it’s like his brilliant revitalization of Immortal Iron Fist, only now Shang-Chi is getting all the love. The equally talented Deodato picks up on the ’70s vibe with assured ease, giving us the modern versions of action sequences where we watch practiced bruisers like the Super-Soldier perform quasi-gymnastic routines. Their bodies hurtle through the air with multiple poses in each choreographed frame as they take down their foes. He also picks up on some old school Miller Daredevil inking techniques, presenting the ninja-like warriors as masses of black silhouettes wielding sharp and pointy weapons.
Moonknight and the Beast don’t get much play this issue, but it’s no surprise to see the Widow and Ant-Man succeed at stealth maneuvers. The inspired team up of Valkyrie and Prince of Orphans (invading an enemy stronghold at night) shows versatile subtlety on the part of the former and further wellsprings of wisdom from the welcome presence of the latter. It’s all apparently being orchestrated by some sorts of demonic creatures, but that hardly matters as it’s the excitement, action and character interplay that attracts, the typical best weapons in Brubaker’s inventive arsenal.