Wow. Congratulations to Bendis for bringing home the first volume of New Avengers. He does a great job with this, delivering not only a strong story but actually answering a lot of critics' complaints.
Luke Cage has had enough. Regardless of how the Siege of Asgard ended, he wants the Hood to go down tonight! When the New Avengers start questioning the Hood's goons, they are quick to turn on him. I guess Hood never realized the value in having loyal flunkies. The New Avengers head off to Cali to take out Hood and Madame Masque while they shelter with her father, Count Nefaria. Nefaria is a classic Avengers villain, so it was great seeing him show up to give a great Avengers action-conclusion to this series. Bendis has a great take on the character, he comes across as egotistical, confident, and a somewhat caring father all at the same time. Best of all, though, the New Avengers actually beat Nefaria themselves. Ms. Marvel and Wolverine do most of the work, but the other folks get their licks in and get to do stuff too. So the New Avengers not only fought an Avengers foe, but actually defeated him themselves! Great!
The final monologue from Cage was surprisingly effective too. Bendis puts the speech over double splash pages from all the big New Avengers artists and it really does establish a nice historical context. And dang you if that last page doesn't make you smile. Seeing the team just walk happily through a park was a wonderfully victorious moment.
Bryan Hitch's art is pretty nice. Count Nefaria looks a little too thin, he's supposed to be bulkier, but I liked Hitch's take on the Avengers and other costumed goons. The final pin-up shots established history so nicely, I can almost convince myself that I liked New Avengers as a whole. In fact, it had both good and bad stories, but I have to admit I'm excited to see what Bendis will do with the team next.