I've been following the New Avengers pretty closely for the entire run as I love Bendis and the comic is pretty balls-to-the-wall. But unfortunately, after the death of Captain America, the title has been running around in circles with the remaining New Avengers running around in circles. After the event of "The Trust", Bendis promises to "rewind the clock" and show how the Skrulls have infiltrated so well into the Marvel Universe. Issue 39 brings us to an Echo centric issue.
From here on out, spoilers for the issue
Echo, or Maya Lopez, is deaf and is able to mimic anything she sees, like fly a plane or kick ass like a ninja. This issue shows us a little character development, showing Maya talking to Wolverine. They have a brief conversation about whether or not the conspiracy exists, whether or not the current incarnation of the Avengers is, in fact, Avengers, and if Wolverine is himself a Skrull. He says he isn't because he remembers their shared history, which was a vision quest in the pages of Daredevil, if I'm not mistaken.
Then Echo goes for a rooftop voyage, and runs into Matt Murdock. They talk briefly, and then Murdock turns into Maya Lopez. Oh snap - it's a Skrull. Then they fight, but the Skrull manifests a bunch of X-Men powers, including Cyclop's eye blasts and Nightcrawler's teleportation. They fight, and then Wolverine shows up to do some stabby-stabby, but the Skrull teleports away. Maya knows for sure now that the Skrulls are replacing people and Logan even admits that Maya is one to replace because of her mysterious history.
The next day, she's drinking coffee and Clint Barton shows up, pontificates on the nature of being an Avenger, and that Maya is indeed an Avenger. They kiss, they f*%&, end of issue.
Ohhhkay. So, first things first, the art is pretty standard for David Mack. I was expecting something a little bit more visually striking and innovative, but his normal superhero pencil work is still pretty damn good. Bendis' script is, in a word, whatever. Maya sounds just like every other Bendis character, which is unfortunate, considering she's Mack's creation. There's only four characters in the whole issue, and they all sound alike - that's a problem.
What's the story on Bendis having Clint screw every Avenger? Well, not every Avenger, but in the pages of New Avengers, he's boned the Scarlet Witch and Echo/Ronin. That's a lot of hook-ups for a major mainstream character in an all-ages title. In fact, the solicitation makes reference to the hook-up, as if that's a selling point.
In terms of plot, it was okay. I kind of already knew that the Skrulls were infiltrating the Marvel Universe - thanks Bendis. A lot of comic reviewers are avoiding spoilers for this issue, even though it's not really that crazy. This isn't the same plot machination as the reveal of Elektra's corpse. I don't know.
Again, this is an example of the title spinning its wheels while Bendis slowly and deliberately puts all the pieces in place for Secret Invasion. Which is fine, but it's costing the New Avengers title quite a bit.
I wouldn't recommend this title to anybody but those who are following the Secret Invasion storyline.