Last time: A.I.M. send a group of Adaptoids possessing the abilities of various Avengers after a group of evil Avengers, which A.I.M. had brought to “our” Universe. This capture attempt failed but resulted in the death of 'Ant Man' and 'Banner' going on the run. “Our” Avengers are now on the trial of the 'Avengers'.
Also the Adaptoids have developed self-awareness and want to carry out their original mission, that of exploration of the Multiverse.
New York City in a “Hulk-proof” safe room, Banner and 'Banner' are chatting. It turns out the 'Avengers' lobotomised 'Banner' so he no longer gets angry and can only Hulk out when they activate an implant in his brain (hence the controller last issue). This procedure has also made 'Banner' a sociopath, so he is still a monster just a different kind. Banner wants to test 'Banner' to see if he can still get angry so hits him with a spanner. We then see a Banner start to Hulk out but we can't tell which one as we can only see his eyes turning green.
At A.I.M. island, the Scientist Supreme destroys the agent that failed to recapture the 'Avengers' and sends in another squad.
Back in New York and the Avengers are battling the 'Avengers'. 'Iron Man' is actually an evil Jarvis, who killed the Starks and stole the armour, and 'Captain America' is a General. “Our” Avengers get the upper hand (they had greater numbers which helps) when Hulk turns up (so much for the Hulk-proof room). It's unclear whether it's Hulk or 'Hulk' but as he punches Thor I'll assume it's the latter. Just then, A.I.M. fire a gun that creates a time stopping bubble around both sets of Avengers. The agents enter the bubble and retrieve the frozen 'Avengers'.
Finally, the Adaptoids disobey their creators and power up the Auger so they can go and explore the Multiverse.
The story moves along nicely. Interesting concept involving 'Banner', preventing an accidentally occurring Hulk but in the process creating an evil Banner. Quite why “our” Bruce wanted to test him by trying to get him to Hulk out is beyond me, maybe he thought he'd be safe in the safe room but giving the appearance of a Hulk at the end of the story, this is probably wrong. Heck, it may just be part of the plan – time will tell.
I liked the differences between the Avengers. Iron Man was an evil, jealous Jarvis; Thorr's hammer may only be held by the unworthy. For me Captain America was the most intriguing. “Our” Cap guessed he'd be a Nazi called Sigmund but it was a more subtle a difference than that, which was again interesting to see. Apart from being a General, this Steve Rogers seemed very similar to "our" Steve Rogers. I wonder what made this Steve Rogers bad. I hope we get to find out but don't think we will as this could be the last issue of this arc, it's not really made clear. I'll be disappointed if this is the last issue in the arc as there are a lot of unanswered questions and it would make this final issue somewhat lacking. Surely this can't all be set up for something way down the line although, Hickman does also sets up the self-aware Adaptoids going out on their own without A.I.M.'s consent. That'll no doubt come back for a pay off at some point.
Finally the art and again I like it; especially the way the A.I.M. agents are drawn, struggling to keep their oversized hoods upright. The only downside is the dreaded misleading cover which I so dislike. At no point in the issue do the Avengers (either of them) battle an oversized Adaptoid. Nor do Sunspot or Cannonball appear. I don't get why comics do this, it's false advertising. If you went to a toy shop and bought a box with a picture of a red bike on it and got home to find it contain a blue plane, you'd be annoyed and think you've been swindled. Why should it be any different with comics? I'm all for poetic licence in the drawings but illustrating scenes that just don't occur is silly, wrong and misleading. Your comic should contain a story good enough to make people want to buy without having to draw a more "exciting" cover and "trick" people into buying it.
Tricky one to mark. If this is the last issue of the arc (which I believe it is), I find it somewhat anti-climatic – A.I.M. arriving and stopping the Avengers after they'd only just begun. Finding out nothing more about the other 'Avengers' reason for evilness. It just makes the story lack something, the 'Avengers' could have been any villain, the only reason to have them be alternate versions was to highlight the fact that A.I.M. are using the Auger again to mine the Multiverse (which we knew 2 issues ago and had already been illustrated by the creation of the Adaptoids). All of that means I'm not going to score this issue that high and it'll get 2.5.
However, if the next issue continues that story than this issue has served it's purpose and built up interest so I'll come back and bump it's score a little. It's got to be the next issue or two though. Build up for an issue six months away doesn't justify a three part arc with no real conclusion and many unanswered questions now!
I'm a continuity stickler, as anyone who has been kind enough to read my reviews may well be aware. It's understandable that some mistakes are made, after all some characters have more than 50 years of history to include. Sometimes mistakes can be minor, sometimes they are huge. What I think is very silly though is when an error is made in the very next issue. Last time when 'Hulk' reverted to 'Banner', 'Wasp' called after “Doctor Banner.” This issue, when Banner and 'Banner' are talking, 'Banner' says “Mister Banner, I presume”, Banner corrects him saying “Doctor Banner.” 'Banner' than says “That's interesting... Doctor, so there are differences.” This implies that 'Banner' is not a doctor, hence there being a difference between the two. So if 'Banner' isn't a doctor, why did 'Wasp' call after “Doctor Banner” in the issue before?