Flying through New York, the two Angels are getting to know one another. The earlier Warren Worthington III can't get his head around the flightier later/present version of himself, while New Angel is simply enjoying the coolness of meeting 'an older model'. As they approach Avengers Tower, they spot an assault by the vengeful hordes of Hydra but their targets, the Avengers, aren't at home. Old Angel is all for contacting their teammates for help, but New Angel dives right in and while the two hold their own and bring down plenty of Madame Hydra's minions, it's the eventual arrival of the Avengers that puts the lid on the fight.
What the Avengers want to know is, why are there two Angels?
Earth's Mightiest Heroes are soon landing on the lawn of the Jean Grey School, with Captain America insisting science teacher and ex-Avenger the Beast explains what's going on.
And after the Avengers have left, with assurances that the X-Men will let the Avengers know of any developments - what with the displaced heroes being a threat to the space-time continuum and all - Old Angel announces that he's had enough, he's going home to the past. Jean begs to differ ...
In themselves, the three strands would make for a decent issue, but it's the way writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez handle the plot that elevates this issue well above the norm. The fight with Hydra, which could be standard superhero fare, there merely for the sake of an action scene, illuminates the differing characters of the Angels. And while Bendis provides fine dialogue, Marquez shows us the differences with kinetic, frenetic layouts - my favourite composition is a spread with symmetrical Warrens dominating either side, complementary yet contrasting.
The rap with Cap could be by the numbers - the reader knows he'll be sternly demanding information, and that the Beast will be limply reassuring. What makes the scene special is Bendis' understanding of our expectations and his playful subversion of them. He has Marquez draw the conversation in the background, while in the foreground Kitty Pryde and the present day Iceman rehearse the likely exchange (click on image to enlarge).
And the ending is something I didn't see coming, though given how in earlier issues Old Jean taps into telepathic powers that shouldn't yet be available to her, the further progression of power and - scarier still - character doesn't jar. What it does is turn the tension of this Marvel Now! Series up by several notches. And Marquez' resolute, dominating Jean chills.
This is a terrific instalment, supplying a satisfying done-in-one fight scene while progressing the overall narrative, establishing personalities and relationships, and dealing with such housekeeping as the reaction of the wider superhero community to events at the Jean Grey School. Bendis and Marquez, along with colour artist Marte Gracia and letterer Cory Petit, combine talents to great effect, and if we get many more issues like this I'll be one very merry mutant fan.