This particular arc of Avengers/New Avengers has been difficult for me, as it felt like Osborn was being brought back prematurely…but with a single issue that has all changed. New Avengers #22 is filled with moments that toss this entire story line on it’s ear and have made this title wildly entertaining again. Bendis writes these characters extremely well, that has certainly never been the issue with the arc, but with issue #22 New Avengers once again has a unique flair in the Marvel Universe. There are fantastic moments throughout this issue with an enraged and irrational Cage, a frantic Victoria Hand, and a surprisingly forward Mockingbird that culminate in a chaotic final page that is an absolute game-changer for this arc. Bendis is really kicking this into high gear now and this is the best written issue of New Avengers I have read since the first arc with Stuart Immonen. There are a lot of questions left to be answered to round out this arc, but this title is in fantastic shape heading into the final curve and issue #22 is a great example of what New Avengers can add to the Marvel Universe.
The art component of this issue is executed brilliantly by Mike Deodato and Will Conrad. Deodato is in the zone with these characters and you pretty much know when you see his name on the cover you are going to get an issue with consistently solid pencils. Issue #22 features some of the best work I have seen from Deodato in recent months and his use of shadows in some of the later layouts is excellent. I personally do not like the expression, but there are multiple pages in this comic that were jaw-droppers. This title is in fantastic artistic hands and there is really no disputing Deodato is one of the best Marvel has.