Norman Osborn, having saved Humanity from the Skrull Queen, has decided to reconvene his council of evil. Each of the representatives has control over one realm or area. For the mutants, in place of Magneto, there is the White Queen. Loki is now in a female body. Doom, Red Hood and Namor are the same.
Norman comes in and makes a proposal- play along with him and get what you want. Don't, and get screwed. He extradites Doom to Latveria, says he will leave Namor alone, and promises to protect the mutants. He wants them to join him, so that he can control everything.
But Norman may not be as sane and in control as he appears. When the ex-Thunderbolt Swordsman feels he's getting screwed over by Norman, he pushes Norman, and the Green Goblin pushes back- killing Swordsman with his own sword. Can Norman control himself, or will it all go spinning away from him?
Meanwhile, the battle with the Skrulls is over. S.H.I.E.L.D. has folded, and the Avengers are on their own. But Luke Cage has a big problem. During the fight with the Skrulls, his wife, Jessica Jones, took their baby to Tony Stark's mansion, hoping that his loyal Butler, Jarvis, would take care of the baby. But "Jarvis" turned out to be a Skrull impostor, and now both Luke and Jessica are desperately looking for their child. Can the Avengers, and Cap with them, help the couple find their child? Or will Luke Cage have to call on... darker interests, to find the location of their child?
But once Luke has his daughter back, those same interests want concessions out of Luke. Will he fold, or fight back to retain his freedom and independence?
And finally, Norman unveils his "New Avengers", with himself in a suit of Iron Man's painted red, white and blue. Now calling himself "Iron Patriot", Norman has several villains dress up like former or current Avengers so he can make it seem like he has their imprimatur. But will the real Avengers stand for Norman using their images this way?
Another somewhat scattered book, because the stories in this one came from two different comics, X-Men and the Avengers. Too, I'm reading these books out of order, so it's sometimes hard for me to follow the overall, overarching picture. But this, which is set right after the Skrull War, set up quite a frightening beginning for Norman Osborn's rise to power.
The heroes seem to be totally blindsided by what Osborn has done, and what he is willing to do, and let's face it, since I have read ahead, I know he's going to be in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. for at least a year, and that the heroes are going to be screwed over by him for quite a long time, but even if I hadn't, it's obvious that Osborn is an intelligent man, and has pretty much planned out every contingency beforehand.
It's scary, and sets up the situation quite well for the time to come, as well as showing us that while Osborn may be a hero to most of America, he's still psychotic and has a hair-trigger temper. He may be able to rein himself in more quickly, but he still has murderous rages. Not good. Recommended.