The Hood is trying to gather the Infinity Gems and the Avengers are trying to stop him and thus protect all of reality. The Avengers have two gems, the Hood has three and when he tries to get the last one, he finds that Thanos has beat him to it!
Thanos tries to convince the Hood to hand him the gems, because he Thanos knows best how to use them and he'll give Earth to the Hood. The Hood doesn't go for the plan and Thanos vanishes, revealing he was really an illusion created by Dr. Strange. The Hood turns to find the other Avengers behind him and the Red Hulk, power gem in hand, sucker punches the Hood. The Hood loses grip of the gems and Namor and Ms. Marvel quickly retrieve one each. Iron Man tries to gather the third, but is too slow. The Hood uses the reality gem to try and escape. The Red Hulk pursues with his gem as the Hood distorts reality around them.
The Red Hulk tells the Hood to stop before he destroys all reality. The Hood turns on the Red Hulk and tells him that he doesn't care if he destroys reality and threatens to continue unless Red Hulk turns over his gem. The Red Hulk reveals he no longer has the gem. Iron Man appears, he has assembled the other gems into the Inifity Gauntlet. The Guantlet draws in the remaining gem and the Hood is beaten, but know Iron Man has the ultimate power! Will it corrupt him? Nah! He uses the Gauntlet to send the Hood back to jail and then wishes the Gauntlet and gems out of existence.
Steve Rogers approaches the Red Hulk and commends him on his efforts and invites him to join the Avengers. The Red Hulk accepts and the heroes disperse.
Later on, in a dark room, the Inifity Gauntlet lays on a table. Namor, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Xavier and Reed Richards are standing around. Black Bolt is not there or another Inhumans rep. Namor comments that he thought Tony had really destroyed the Gauntlet. Tony explains, and Reed agrees, that destroying it would have some unpredictable results. They then split the gems again, as Tony explains why some things have to be done in secret. Tony is left with two gems, but on the final page we see him hand one over to Steve Rogers! Steve says that he is in, but that they should all find better hiding places this time around...
A pretty good conclusion to the storyline, with a couple of nice little twists thrown in. I must admit that, until it was revealed, I thought that Thanos had really turned up. When it was revealed to be a trick, I was a little disappointed, but it made sense and showed that the Avengers were getting on top of things. The follow up of how they finally defeated the Hood was well thought out too.
This issue really brings home the weak humanity of the Hood and his desperation for power to make meaning out of his life. There's definitely some deeper issues being touched on here, but they are never fully explored. In fact, in a lot of ways, the way things play out and some of the comments that are made by some Avengers show more similarities between the Avengers and the Hood instead of differences. The Red Hulk openly expressess desire for the gems, for selfish reasons. A number of Avengers also express a desire to have the Hood killed. And then the end revelation about the Illuminati continuing to function and bringing Steve Rogers into the fold. All these things aren't terribly heroic and for Steve Rogers, seems to be out of character. I really don't see how he was convinced to change his mind. I think there was an opportunity here to contrast the Hood and his motives against that of the heroes, instead I get the feeling that many of the heroes aren't as heroic as they should be.
Spidey Watch: Spidey has one line and appears in the background... again.
Solid story, with a couple of nice twists.