This issue starts us off with Emma Frost receiving a letter inviting her to Avengers Mansion for a meeting with Norman Osborn. Dr. Doom is already there once she arrives and then we have the obligatory solo entrance where everyone has their own introduction. For a moment I thought I was watching the WWE. Osborn then comes in and monologues his way through
several pages, where he promises everyone assembled there that they will have their heart’s desire if they all swear allegiance to him and do his bidding when the time comes. He promises Doom Latveria back, Namor an Atlantean Kingdom, The White Queen mutant safety, Loki control of Asgard and the Hood the ability for his gang to move unfettered so long as they go legitimate and join the Initiative. Osborn as has a super secret black shadowy character behind a door that is supposed to keep everyone assembled honest. Once Osborn leaves the room and Loki, Emma, and The Hood follow; Namor and Doom hatch a plan to let Osborn set all of this up and they will take over (Doom land, Namor the seas) when he goes insane again. Then Doom states that if he does not falter they will take a fight to him the likes of which no one has ever seen. This obviously sets up whatever mega event will take place next year. We then cut back to Thunderbolts tower where Osborn is moving everything to Avengers Tower. He is confronted by the Swordsman (who based on the way he was drawn I could have sworn was Bullseye without his mask). Swordsman threatens to go public with what he knows since he is not being given what he was promised. Osborn then kills him with his own sword and throws him out the window and down the side of the mountain. We then close the main part of the book with Emma having a dream where Kitty Pryde is asking her why she did not save her. She then wakes up screaming. The book is very dialogue heavy. Also this book falls into a trap that some of Bendis’ other work does where he gets a group of heroes or villains together and all they do is monologue at each other and sit around a table. The only interesting development in the entire book is the Namor/Doom partnership. The artwork by Maleev is really distracting and too sketchy. The characters do not look the same from one panel to the next, except for Namor who looks like a run down Robert Englund for some reason. The rest of the book is used to highlight the new series that are coming out Secret Warriors, Agents of Atlas, and War Machine. Overall the book is pretty formulaic and bland and really ads nothing to the overall story and could have just taken place in Dark Avengers or one of the other half dozen new titles. It earns 2 out of 5 New Avengers.