But man-o-man, is New Avengers bad.
Not just issue #34. But the whole series.
OK, I have to do paragraphs longer than 1 sentence now.
One of the reasons Countdown is so awful is that it's just killing time. Nothing happens. Piper and Trickster encounter some DC universe figure, are unfunny, and flee. Lather, rinse, repeat. The "Challengers of the Unknown" (please) hit another world, Atom's not there, on to the next. Lather, rinse, repeat. Jimmy Olsen needs to demonstrate his powers to a super-team, they don't work because he's not really in danger, on to the next team. Mary Marvel become infinitesimally more "evil." Lather, rinse repeat. There's simply not enough story here to fill out 5 issues, let alone 52. It's an exercise in padding.
BUT. But. At least as a weekly, it can provide some illusion of plot motion. New Avengers doesn't even have that. Let's recap what's happened in that book post-Civil War. First they spend FIVE issues on a fight with Hand ninjas. 5 issues. Sure, we had some flashbacks mixed in there, which almost entirely consisted of the "new" Avengers hiding or running from the "mighty" Avengers. But however insanely cool (albeit poorly portrayed and incomprehensible) a battle with ninjas is, five issues??
Then we followed with 3 solid issues of "Are you a Skrull? No, are you a Skrull? Is my baby a Skrull?" And until the end of issue #34, not actually DOING anything to investigate, just sitting around pointlessly rehashing and talking about it (oh, yeah,. and Dr. Strange got busy!). #34 had exactly one good scene, and they spoiled it by putting it on the cover. And why in the the name of the wild winds of Watoomb couldn't Doctor Strange have cast this "Are you a Skrull" spell, oh, I don't know, 2 issues ago???
Now, I like Bendis' writing, in general. And I'm thinking that they've had to kill a LOT of time to kill in order to sync up with Mighty Avengers, which apparently is being published bi-quarterly or something. But stunningly snail-like pacing like this is not only boring, but leads me to the big question:
Why, exactly, does this book exist?
What, exactly, is the purpose of this "team"? What is their place in the post-Civil War Marvel universe? 8 issues in, I don't have a clue, and I've seen nothing that indicates that Bendis has a clue, either. It's like watching paint dry. And then putting on another coat of the exact same color, and watching it dry again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Oh, and Leinil Yu? Worst last page layout EVER.