Plot: Old defeated Tony meets Young arrogant Tony, and the two team up to face the perennial problems of Ultron and Kang.
Comments: It's all about the big guns in this Avengers title, and apparently that means the big boys, as all the cover art wants our focus to clearly be on Thor, Iron Man, Cap and Hawkeye. With the occasional dollop of relative newbies Spider-Man and Wolverine for flavor. Perhaps one of the most interesting additions on this adventure is Marvel Boy, who has maintained a semblance of his bad attitude, and definitely looks distinctive in his monochrome costume.
Romita Jr. (and that excellent inking team of Janson and Palmer, yes, more please!) give us hints of a greater context for the future apocalypse the team has traveled to, where the Avengers are led by an aged Hulk (still obsessed with being the smartest one) and featuring a new generation of brats that have the unwarranted confidence of youth and the bad attitudes to make it almost work. They aren't very distinct, but hint at weird future alliances for the current Avengers. And bad attitude is pretty much what Bendis writes best. I can admit to enjoying the machismo displays that all of his peacocks constantly flaunt at each other.
This issue, the major standoff is between Ultron and Tony Stark, recalling the more ridiculous confrontation from Mighty Avengers between the Frank Cho naked Amazon version of Ultron and a tongue-tied team of heavy breathers that started that series. This time, Romita just complicates the standard design in intriguing ways, and conveys a sense of menace and contained power even as the time displaced Avengers actually try to talk the excessively paranoid robot down from his hostile plans.
As all the elements reach their planned climaxes, we're left with scenes of subtle cunning, base betrayal, insouciant attitude, and predictable sequels. Not all of the beats convince, but most of them are interesting, and the main characters have their usual characteristic moments of banter. If it's not quite the epic this title meant to have to restart (you just can't do epic if your formula is alternating blitzkrieg and truce, with no stages of development in between), it's definitely much better than the inane distractions of the old numbering, with the team hounded and reviled as criminals. It's good to have the adventures of the team be their own again, though I think New Avengers and its comedic bent is a little closer to the best Bendis can do in the Heroic Age.
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