There are times when Brian Michael Bendis just knocks it right out of the park. The New Avengers #28 is one of those glorious issues. This issue is not only incredibly entertaining, it also screws with your head and emotions. By the end, you’re cheering and then you’re crushed. It’s also the first issue to make the recently Phoenix-powered Mutants look like the bad guys. Thus far, Avengers Vs. X-Men has put the blame on both sides of the fence. The New Avengers #28 makes use believe that the X-Men are losing it.
Spider-Woman, Luke Cage and Hawkeye have been captured and thrown into the Utopia holding cells. Opening on Spider-Woman, the young mutant Phoebe, who has been entrusted to dampen the captured heroes powers, brings Peter Parker’s cousin her dinner. There’s an exchange where the defeated Spider-Woman questions Phoebe on whether this is what she wants. Cut to Luke Cage who starts messing with Warpath through intimidation. Finally, we have Hawkeye, who tricks a young mutant and then tries to break her arm. Tensions mount as the three heroes contemplate escape.
What follows is an exciting jailbreak sequence and then a battle to get off Utopia between Colossus and Cage. The three New Avengers manage to get past the X-Men and triumphantly escape on a speedboat. Just as the jubilation reaches a fever pitch, they wake up and discover they’re locked in cryo-chambers and still prisoners of the X-Men. The escape they so richly deserved was just a simulation run by the robot Danger. Cage, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman have a few minutes to savor their despair before being put back under the simulation. It’s unusually cruel and, like I said, really makes the X-Men look evil.
Bendis times this issue perfectly. The dialog is perfect, the pacing of the story is perfect, the art is suitably depressing and they all blend together to make you believe you’re watching an escape. When the bottom falls out you feel it in your stomach. It’s the kind of visceral reaction that great issues can elicit from anybody. Up until this issue, I had no favorites in Avengers Vs. X-Men. As of now, I want Captain America and his crew to beat the holy hell out of Cyclops and the rest of them.
Mike Deodato’s art captures the vibe of the story perfectly as does the coloring from Rain Beredo. The use of heavy shadowing and muted colors gives the Utopia prison a real sense of despondency and all the faces seemed wracked with either anger or pain. Deodato does a great job of getting across the subtle bitterness this war is having. I also have to commend him on the shot of Spider-Woman’s face when the simulation ends. Her shock is painful to look at.
The New Avengers #28 is a solid entry to the series and could be a game changer for public opinion of the X-Men’s end game.