The New Avengers #52
Marvel's Dark Reign flows into this "Sorcerer Quest"* story line. The characters are all still clearly under the influence of Dark Reign's new status quo, but the world is moving on. Regardless of what conditions restrain them, there will always be work for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In this case, it is an unbalance in Marvel's often overlooked magical sub-verse. The dimension needs a new Sorcerer Supreme and all the major magic players are out to get their hooks into whomever that will be.
What worked: This book really feels like part of a larger universe. Doctor Strange is not an Avenger, but he is the Avengers circle. He was a member recently, and he knows these people. So, he is more than a guest star, but less than a cast member. He really feels like a friend who came by because he was in a moment of need. It makes sense with the logic of this book's universe. These people know eachother and can count on eachother. The "call to action" in this story comes about unlike you will find in any other super-hero comic. There is no alarm bell, or shouting of orders. Rather, a bunch of friends sit around a (rather large) table and talk about the problem. It less about the immediate peril, and more about pride, humility, and loyalty. If you just count the number of pages and panels where nothing seems to be happening, you would say this was a fairly boring comic book. But, when you read what is actually going on in those scenes, the story is never slow or dull. Those scenes have meaning because you care about the characters. But they are also, strangely, exactly what makes you care about them in the first place. Luke Cage and Peter Parker explaining simple morality and team ethics to the high-and-mighty Dr. Strange makes for a really nice scene. Billy Tan is really stepping up for the art on these issues. And though i love Chris Bachalo's work, his action can just get confusing. Which brings us to...
What did not work: All of the action in this issue was in the demonic/mystical sections, which were done by the amazingly talented Mr. Bachalo. And though I really do love his work for its energy and beauty...he forces it. He will push a shot in too close, or exploe an effect too far and a panel or two will simply be lost. Though I do trust this arc to pick up the pace in the next issue or two, it is off to a rather slow start.
*My name for it.