The Collective is four-fifths of a cracking good read, but rather falls to pieces at the end. It’s apparent why Ms Marvel (later Captain Marvel) was introduced in Secrets and Lies, and we have the novelty of the all-powerful hero who’s sometimes clinically depressed. There’s the suspicion that this is a narrative device employed by Brian Michael Bendis to have his cake and eat it, permitting both the deus ex machina save while also ensuring there are enemies who can give the remaining Avengers a hard time.

Bendis introduces an intriguing new foe with a secret, and when that secret’s revealed it’s very good indeed, although there are ties to previous continuity and other events that may not make complete sense in isolation. They’re rather dismissed in context, and it takes a supplementary chapter to give some perspective when The Collective is gathered with other material in hardcover New Avengers Omnibus.

Before the slam-bang action epic there’s a quieter moment involving the Avengers plonking themselves down on a Detroit street corner and attempting to sort out some more everyday problems. “An abandoned building being used as a crack house sitting right next door to a damn elementary school”, fumes Luke Cage, “We’re going to ask the guys in charge how something like that is allowed to be there. And if that don’t work I’m gonna come back here and knock it down with my bare hands.” It’s part of Cage’s conditions submitted when joining the new Avengers team, that there would be some street level work.

Another thread running through the book, and handled extremely well, is the antagonistic relationship between Tony Stark/Iron Man and Maria Hill, head of spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. The Avengers are keeping secrets, she doesn’t like it, and this plays out in unpredictable fashion.

There’s not any problem with the art. Steve McNiven handles the opening chapter, and Mike Deodato is superlative for the remainder. As noted, though, the conclusion doesn’t match the remainder, requiring much technobabble. Don’t let it put you off what’s otherwise an enjoyable read. And it’s a final time for some while to see these Avengers together. The next collection is Civil War.