The Hood is gathering the Infinity Gems and the Avengers are out to stop him! They have broken up into smaller teams, Thor's team gathered their gem and have now come face to face with the Hood...
Uatu is on the scene to record the momentous events about to unfold... and also to provide helpful exposition for those that may not have been along for the last couple of issues!
Before I go further though, this issue is told in splash pages, i.e. there is only one giant panel for each page depicting the action. Only towards the end of this issue does this change.
Thor, Red Hulk and Namor have come up from the depths of the sea where they retrieved their gem and the Hood is waiting for them. He has three gems, but Red Hulk, Thor and Namor are three of the most powerful beings around. A battle ensues, during which the Hood mostly tosses the others around, but the Red Hulk manages to prise the red gem out of the Hood's hand. As the three heroes gather themselves, the Hood transports them all to were he transported Iron Man and his team. Thor briefly tries to reason with the Hood, before the Avengers go on the attack.
Realising that the numbers are against him, the Hood decides to go for one of the other remaining gems. He manages to beat Xavier and his team to the mind gem and then renders them all unconscious and bleeding.
The Hood enters an alternate realm, where Dr. Strange has hidden his gem. The Hood locates the gem, only to find Thanos is there already and has the soul gem...
The set out of most of this comic is pretty striking, with the focus on powerful splash pages. It is also fairly effective, because in my opinion Romita, Jr. has been the star of this series so far and this format of big action, with powerful characters like the Red Hulk and Thor, really suits him.
The story itself continues to pick up pace, with heroes falling and striving to stop the Hood, then as the Hood gets desperate and rushes to find the remaining gems. There is definitely a strong sense of building tension and the end reveal of Thanos definitely opens things up. It really left me wondering where the story was going to go next, now that Thanos was throwing his hat in the ring.
Spidey Watch: Spidey only appears in the background this issue and does nothing at all. We're nearly twelve issues in now and Spidey has only been a background character for Romita, Jr. to draw for the majority of that. I know there are other characters like that on the team. But really, I'd like to see some real justification for Spidey being on the team, most of the other members have a specific angle, whereas Spidey seems to be just a generic guy who hits people.
I could give this issue a 4.5 rating on the art alone, but story is pretty good too :-)