Since this is the 4th issue of this series, we have some catching up to do. Thankfully, a quick recap will suffice – American Dream has just been captured by Ion Man, the Red Queen, and Silicong. Who are these guys? Well, it seems that Ion Man and the Red Queen are all that's left of the Revengers, a team that went toe to toe with the Avengers in A-Next #10. (She's the daughter of the original Ant-Man and Wasp and he's an evil version of Iron Man.) They've set their sites on American Dream because they figure she is the “weakest link” in the Avengers' lineup and as such her defeat will be their first step in destroying their hated enemies. That's pretty much all you need to know about them. Silicong, who is the Big Bad of this miniseries, is a bald guy covered in diamond-hard crystals that wears leather pants and boots and not much else. He is trying to create an army of crystal creatures and is using illegal immigrants for guinea pigs. One of those illegal immigrants is Marcos, whom American Dream has been searching for since the first issue.
Enough background. Where were we? Oh, yes, the hero was trapped by the bad guys. They trade pithy one-liners for a few panels before Silicong has her thrown in the same cells as their other captives. Red Queen wants to kill her outright, but Silicong wants to use her as a test subject. He uses this discussion to kindly fill us in on his origin. It's the standard mad scientist shtick - he's working on synthetic polymers... there was a big explosion... now he has superpowers. And, of course, he's crazy and wants to rule the world (which is basically the same origin as the Green Goblin so I can't trash it too much). He's figured out how to safely repeat the process and now is creating his own personal army of crystal creatures that are impervious to pain and nearly indestructible. He makes sure they stay under his command by lobotomizing them and implanting control chips in their brains, natch.
Meanwhile, the Avengers are getting reprimanded by Maria Hill (for some reason she is not described as being an agent of SHIELD, but she IS still working for a shadowy government organization). She threatens the entire team with arrest for harboring a fugitive. Eventually, they are able to convince her they aren't hiding American Dream (she quit the team last issue in order to get the feds off her teammate's backs) and she leaves in a huff. Thunderstrike decides the situation warrants bringing in all the reserve Avengers and we are treated to one of those multi-panel screens showcasing a handful of different heroes. There's Thor's daughter (I'm not familiar with where she's from), Main Frame, Earth Sentry (from A-Next #2), Stinger, Vision (hey, how did he get in there?), J2, Nova (from Spider-Girl #7), and hey, there's Spider-Girl herself. Then, we are shown several scenes of various team members (Bluestreak, Sabreclaw, Spider-Girl, and Stinger) searching the city for our titular heroine. (These two panels are all we get of our resident web-stunner this issue and the whole reason I am reviewing this story.)
Meanwhile meanwhile, American Dream is making like Harry Houdini. Silicong's mercenaries must have done a poor job of searching her because even though her hands are tied behind her back she is able to access a knife from a hidden compartment in the sole of her boot (like all good super soldiers have). She easily cuts through her ropes, jimmies the lock, and sets about freeing all the other captives. She finds Marco in the crowd and tells him Sophina sent her to rescue him. She knocks out the two mercs standing guard and everyone makes a break for it. She directs them to escape through the sewer while she deals with some unfinished business. Of course, by now the other villains have been alerted to her escape. And, of course, Marcos doesn't listen and decides to follow American Dream. (If you squint I think you may be able to see a metaphor for the immigrant experience).
Anyway, the next we see of American Dream, she is plowing into all the assorted mercs standing around in Silicong's headquarters. One of them even tries to fight her with her own weapon (a disk launcher that shoots out mini-shields), but she easily snatches it back from him. As she wraps things up, Ion Man and Red Queen arrive, taunting her with her own shield. (Geez, these villains may as well gift wrap AD's victory while they're at it!). They both blast her at the same time (Ion Man with green rays and Red Queen with red ones, natch), but American Dream kicks Ion Man and double punches Red Queen (who really should have used the shield better). Just as she recovers her final piece of gear Silicong makes an appearance and reveals the ace up his sleeve – he can grow larger (just like crystals do, I guess). Now it's time for the final showdown... next issue, that is!
Once again we delve into one of my favorite settings. Like all these spin-off miniseries, this one purports to show the “origin” of its lead character, but it isn't all that fancy... She has a tenuous link to the old Captain America and was inspired by accounts of his heroic deeds after she had a tragic childhood accident that nearly crippled her.
You can wrap this up in all the patriotic bunting you want, but it's pretty much a by-the-numbers escape and slugfest. I don't find it quite as compelling as all the other MC2 universe offerings, but it's still a step above ultra-realistic art and cinematic decompression storytelling.
This Avengers team is slightly different from the one that was shown in A-Next #12. There's two new additions – Sabreclaw and Warp – that I am unfamiliar with. In fact, the last I saw of Sabreclaw he was a Revenger and fighting the Avengers! Perhaps his joining happened off-screen sometime between 1999 when the A-Next series ended and this series picked up in 2008. The second new addition is Warp. I'm assuming he's got some sort of teleportation powers, but we don't really see him in action much except in group shots. The only thing we learn about him is that he's a former villain trying to make amends for his past.