Writers: Fabian Nicieza and Kurt Busiek
Artists: Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This issue offers up the big brawl between the Avengers and thunderbolts that I suspect most readers (including myself) have been waiting for.
Captain America comes across as uncharacteristically spoiling for a fight, but than again out of all the characters involved it's pretty easy to understand why he would be bearing a serious chip on his shoulder when it comes to Baron Zemo.
In any event, the tussle between the two teams is entertaining enough though it is somewhat undone by the sense that neither team really wants to be fighting the other and the battle is full of moments where the characters are expressing serious doubts about the reasons for why they are fighting.
The central question of this issue is not so much, “are the Thunderbolts up to no good?” but rather “were the Avengers too quick to assume that they were up to no good?” This, in turn, results in some solid character moments when Hawkeye finds his loyalties to both groups being torn in two.
There is a somewhat unexpected development where a secret program is found hidden within the super device that is draining away all the planet's transnormal energies. While this development was to be expected, the identity of the person who put it there was a bit of a surprise.
There's also a couple nice little moments like the way that Baron Zemo brings the fight to an end, and when Tony Stark's mask is pulled away there's a wonderful sense of betrayal established, that results in a pretty solid cliff-hanger moment.
As for the art, Tom Grummett turns in a pretty solid effort, as there's a wealth of detail on the page and the action has a nice sense of urgency to it. The big impact shots (e.g. Atlas catching the out of control Quinjet) are also quite impressive, and given the sheer number of characters running around in this issue the level a clarity about who's doing what to whom is also well presented.
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