I am a big fan of Frank Cho's artwork, ever since I started picking up Liberty Meadows six years ago.
I am not a big fan of the Avengers. I read West Coast back in the day, but since then, I've only read Disassembled, Civil War. However, when I heard Cho would be doing interiors for an Avengers book, I quickly read New Avengers to make sure I knew what was going on in the other team. Now, I really enjoy New Avengers and get the trades whenever they come out.
Mighty Avengers Vol. 1 was great, and yes, I am aware of the delay drama that Cho caused. Too bad. I approached Vol. 2 knowing that Cho was not involved, despite a kickass cover, and was willing to try to not compare Bagley to Cho.
I know and respect Bagley's work ethic, especially in light of Cho's shortcoming, but that doesn't mean I am a fan. I read the first four Ult. Spidey volumes but stopped because of Bagley's art. And for the most part, I had problems with his art in this volume too. It's uneven. For three pages, the figures and faces will be great, and then we'll get a couple where faces look asymmetrical and very cartoony and rushed. It's an unfair comparison, especially given how long it took Cho to complete his volume, but i guess it spoiled me.
The story, on the other hand, is a riot. Doom has some sort of Venom samples that get released from a satellite to terrorize the Avengers. The renegade Avengers make an appearance and defeat the symbiotes (Venom birds!).
This mayhem leads the team to Doom, who is busy getting busy with Morgan Le Fey in the past thanks to a time-traveling platform. The pages in the past are done by Marko Djurdjevic, and he really delivers. Beautiful stuff. Iron Man, Sentry, and Doom battle it out, only to get sent back to old school-era Avengers, complete with newsprint-ish details in the pages! Really cool work there by Bagley. In fact, it's in the later qurter of this collection that Bagley starts to improve. By issue #11, he's knocking it outta the park. His attention to facial details shows, particularly in Ms. Marvel's mask during a couple panels.
Bendis still doesn't seem to know what to do with The Sentry, though, and I wish we'd lose him. He's this sad sack, deus ex machina, an easy answer to whatever problems the team has. I did get a little giddy when he tore off Doom's armor, though, I'll admit. Very cool moment. And Bendis does not reveal the horror underneath--whatta tease! I love the idea of Doom finally behind bars (or is he?).
Spider-Woman changes teams in this collection, and everyone is worried about the possibility that she is either a traitor in waiting or a Skrull traitor in waiting--everyone expect Ares who is totally down to hook up.
It's big, dumb fun action in Venom Bomb, just not as visually impressive as Volume 1, although Bagley started to shine near the end--enough to make me sure I'll be back for the next collection.