The problem posed in Secret Invasion was that shape-changing aliens were masquerading as humans with power and influence. If there was one character able to solve it with a wave of the mystical glove it was Doctor Strange, so in The Trust Brian Michael Bendis removed him from the equation. He was absent in previous volume Power, and here we see why.

As he needed to tamper with the dark arts he’s considered tainted, so no longer worthy as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. The mystical artefacts confirming this status are due to be passed elsewhere, and while able to compile a shortlist, Doctor Strange doesn’t know who the new Sorcerer Supreme will be. Folded into that plot is the return of the Hood, with readers made aware of just what’s behind him when Doctor Strange isn’t. There’s also some pontificating on the battle for hearts and minds via the media, where sleazy manipulation appears to outweigh impassioned honesty.

Bendis takes us, and the Avengers on a tour of some possible candidates for Earth’s protector, and what a gloriously unsuitable bunch they are. There’s the innocent Wiccan, the frazzled Damon Hellstrom who sounds as if he’s spouting rock lyrics (“I’m the son of Satan, baby. I’ve been to Hell. And it was a lot better than being married to you.”), and Brother Voodoo, unseen since the 1970s, and considered best consigned there by most.

The revelation here is the art of Billy Tan. His first contributions to the series were among the weakest overall, but he’s improved in Hulk size leaps and bounds. He’s moved from competent, but uninspired superhero art to the full monty: interesting layouts, exciting action sequences and an improved capability when it comes to facilitating the complex conversations Bendis integrates. He does come off second best to pages contributed by Chris Bachalo, but most comic artists would, so there’s no shame in that.

This is a very slim collection at four issues, but it’s largely quality if you can accept it as a Doctor Strange story in which the Avengers play a part. If you prefer your Avengers more proactive, then this might be a problem. Next up is Powerloss.