Waid wraps up this introductory arc nicely, though he leaves a number of loose ends on the table that I'm sure will return to bite the Avengers in the proverbial ass at some point.
We begin the issue with Thor resuscitating a drowned Nova, leading Vision to remark that knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an interesting skill for the God of Thunder to possess. (Cap hilariously remarks, "Even in Asgard, people drawn, Vision.") The gang regroups to follow Warbringer, as the other pieces of the artifact have now drawn him to the third and final piece. Mr. Gryphon explains to Warbringer that the assembled item will allow him to open a gate to an "army of ravenous Chitauri marauders" eager to help him conquer Earth. Gryphon tells Warbringer that his only request in return for this power is that he needs the pieces of the artifact once Warbringer opens the gate. Gazing into said gate, Warbringer notices that the soldiers that he sees on the other side don't wear uniforms or bear weapons that he recognizes. At that point, Gryphon disappears, and the Avengers attack.
Nova manages to buy the team some time by attacking Warbringer directly as they try to figure out a plan. They decide to have Miles use his Spider-Speed to assemble the artifact, open the portal, and then destroy it immediately. (I'm not 100% sure why he couldn't just destroy the pieces, but I think that it had to do with the fact that the portal had already manifested it. He had to open it to destroy it...I think.) Complicating matters, the item appears to be resurrecting the corpses in the graveyard where they stand. (It's really Mr. Gryphon in the shadows, and he appears to want the corpses to grab the artifact from Miles.) Miles does as he told (to Gryphon's fury) and the gate -- and Warbringer -- disappear. The Avengers regroup, and they note that they still don't understand Warbringer's motives. Thor observes that he spoke like a warlord with a vendetta and called Nova by name, but Vision provides Sam a save, noting that Warbringer has inevitably encountered other members of the space-faring Nova Corps. Iron Man then observes that they all upped their games when fighting at each other's side so, as the sole remaining active original Avenger, he suggests that they become...the Avengers!
Elsewhere, Warbringer arrives on the other side of the portal (possibly thrown there by Sam). He encounters some of the aforementioned soldiers and realizes that they're actually from the Chitauri's distant future. Annoyed by his ravings, one of the soldiers kills him. Meanwhile in the epilogue, Sam thanks Vision for the save...only to have Vision blackmail him, noting that Sam is in his debt.
Again, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. Waid makes it perfectly clear that Warbringer was just the tool for "Mr. Gryphon" to assemble the artifact, and the Avengers spoiled his plans. That said, I'm still not entirely sure why Gryphon couldn't assemble it on his own or why he needed to use Chitauri from the future as bait, but I get the sense that we're going to get more information on Gryphon and his plans for the artifact soon. Meanwhile, Waid leaves several hints throughout the issue -- the most obvious one being the blackmail attempt -- that Vision's "emotion-dectomy" might make him a threat to the team. Sound familiar?
*** (three of five stars)