Marvel is once again bringing back the tradition of the annual to their comics. The mandate from the top was that these stories had to have relevance or a special event to justify the extra sized issued. It worked great on the Ultimate Universe, so they are giving it a go in the Marvel Universe. This issue features the appearance of the new Adaptoid and the marriage of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. This issue takes place before Civil War and the ending says that it is continued in New Avengers 22. The story also ties up a loose end from the first arc of New Avengers. This is also my first review for spiderfan.org!
The annual starts with a flashback page to the first volume of the Avengers. We see the Adaptoid. Black Widow II is still in a hospital from her wounds received in the Savage Land during the first arc of New Avengers. She is offered a deal form the devil,so to say. They can turn her into an Adaptoid. She can have her body and get revenge for those she thinks have done her wrong. Hydra and A.I.M. want the Avengers beaten in public. They even wouldn't mind their double agent, Spider-Woman, roughed up.
In the Avengers Tower, we see everybody(and I do mean everybody) hanging out. Heroes who have secret identities are in costume. The rest are in normal clothes. They are all expecting an official visit from the Mayor of NYC. Hopefully MJ, Aunt May(and Mrs. Reynolds)will go to their rooms as not to be seen and connected to our man Peter. Jessica Jones comes crashing in with baby in tow. She is exhausted from carrying Luke Cage's "damn baby" all over. Lots of damns. Too bad she is still not in her Max book Alias, then she could really tell us how she feels. To me this is the one of the two relevant spider things that happen in the book. MJ is drooling all over the baby. Peter asks "You want a baby?" MJ gives the basic hold it until it needs something or pukes response. Then she says "One baby is enough." The comment is meant for Aunt May and her Spider-man footed pajamas. But if you read to much into it, you could think back about 10 years ago when MJ and Peter were had their own baby. That baby didn't make it or did make it and was secreted away during the whole clone saga. That baby became Spider-Girl in MC2 continuity. I am probably just reading to much into it. Jessica Jones finally agrees to marry Luke Cage. Tony Stark, Sentry and Captain America go to meet the Mayor.
Guess who's coming to dinner? That's right, just when the Mayor gets ready to visit, we see the new Adaptoid. You can't have a Marvel wedding without a fight. Peter has taken off his mask in time to see the Sentry thrown by the window. On a side note, why did Peter take his mask off and what are Ms. Marvel and MJ talking to Peter about that makes him pout? Oh well, back to the fight. We get our obligatory Avengers Assemble from MS. Marvel. Sentry and Cap are out, so Spider-man, Spider Woman, Wolverine and Luke Cage take the second shot. Wham! That didn't long to knock out those four. Adaptoid goes after Cap who is driving the Mayor away in a car. As she is about to strike, the Sentry gets a punch back in. He is no match for her abilities. Wolverine is watching, he says something that speaks about the team."Think smart. The fight's coming back down here. This is what we do..." It is nice to see grounded heroes perspective versus those of the flying heroes. I have always wondered what is happening to those on the ground as all the flying heroes are battling over mid- town.
Spider-man: "It's a Super-Adaptoid Adaptoid thing" Iron Man: "How many of you did she touch?" SM: "Just all of us." IM: " You never touch an adaptoid--" SM: "Oh, like we knew."
Peter uses his scientific brain to figure out a way to stop this thing. It only has one slot for each hero patterns. So if you had two Spideys, it could only adapt one of those since the slot is full with the first. Spider-man, Cap, Wolvie and Spider-Woman stall the Adaptoid to give Iron Man some time to do Peter's idea. Iron Man pulls out all the stops and we have the double page spread of Iron Men. Most are recognizable and all will be Marvel Legends action figures! We have the original gray and gold, the silver centurion, the first red and gold, the Heroes Return, the stealth, the modern, the around issue 300 one, the volume three( after the return, before the modern)and many more. Any bets that MJ and Aunt May are in some of those? Any? Arghhhh!!! Wrestlers!! Another two page add at an important story point.
But back to the story. We see Tony hooked up controlling all of the Iron Men. He is giving commands much like battle ship. You sunk my Adaptoid! I assume this is after the first arc of the new Iron Man series. Tony was shot with a program(the Extremis) that rewires the brain to interface with electronics and make him very Neo-Matrix like. The plan works for a while, but the Adaptoid it to powerful and has absorbed every ones powers. The Sentry comes to the rescue. If you take the Sentry's powers, you take the good with the bad. The good is his Superman like powers. The bad,you get the darkness that can consume, the Void. I am so glad they use the Sentry. He is an absolutely fascinating character and he is done well here. The Avengers try to question the Adaptoid, but she has been fitted with a fizzler. She is detonated by Hydra and A.I.M. before she can give any information out. Iron Man questions Spider-Woman for information and displays his mistrust for her.
And now the Wedding. I was surprised in reading this that the wedding was only a couple of pages. I pleasantly surprised with the whole "Super-Adaptoid Adaptoid" thing as Spidey put it. The wedding was very nice and we have a Stan Lee cameo as the preacher. It has been a long journey for these two. It seems weird they have a nice Marvel wedding after the way they were presented in Alias #1. But again, they have both come a long way. They seem to generally love each other and this does not seemed forced(cough cough Storm/Black Panther cough cough). A nice event for two of Brian Michael Bendis' favorites. There are also two good pages at the end. The wedding picture might be the last for the group after the events of Civil War.
Good: The wrap up of the Black Widow II story line, the wedding scenes and Jessica's speech, the two page tower shot of everyone with Jessica complaining, Oliver Coipel pencils, Spidey uses his brain, the Sentry and the Stan Lee cameo.
Bad: I think the wide variety of inkers hurt Coipel's usually amazing pencils. There were 8 total inkers, not a good fit for a story. I could tell when it switched from one to the next. I thought the Mayor's dialogue was not a good fit. It seemed weird for him to be so angry and short about the "super-hero crap for one city." Spider-woman's head looks separated on page 22 across from the Final Fantasy VII ad. The wrestling ad was in a bad place. But I always complain about advertising.
The various inkers hurt the overall appearance of the art. A very good story that compliments the regular on-going title. It is a can't miss for New Avengers fans. I would recommend it for those just interested in Spider-man as well.