by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Alessandro Vitti (art), IFS (color), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: John Garrett tells Druid he’s not done and trains him to reach his true potential.

What’s Good: It’s great to see Sebastian back.  He was always my favourite of the Caterpillars, as I found him to be likable and the most relatable.  He’s a cool character with a lot of untapped power and I’ve been looking forward to this issue ever since Alexander’s prophecy about him being a great hero.

And really, watching the transformation process here is a treat.  It’s really fun to see Druid go from portly, incompetent dude to spec ops badass.  Jonathan Hickman also pulls no punches when it comes to Druid’s power levels here; once trained, he does some truly amazing, “holy shit” type stuff.

The bond between Garrett and Druid is also a good one and happily fulfills the always-enjoyable gruff teacher/student lacking self-confidence dynamic as Garrett cuts to the heart of Druid’s psychology.  In many ways, I think Druid’s story here is wish fulfillment for many readers here.  Hickman’s work has often been about defying limitations, and while these limitations are often cosmic in scope, here we see him applying the same message to personal limitations.  Basically, if you want to be in shape, work out.  If you want to be good at your job, apply yourself.  And if you want to be a badass, learn to believe in yourself.  It’s the sort of message, and narrative, that is easy for a reader to get behind and it’s hard not to love Druid even more afterward.

Alessandro Vitti delivers what you’ve come to expect from him, and his depiction Druid’s power is impressive.  More than that though, I was especially impressed by Vitti’s depiction of Druid’s physical transformation.  After his training, he’s not ripped or anything, but it’s clear he’s a different guy and that he’s in shape.  Despite that though, Vitti makes it clear that the character is still most definitely Sebastian.  It’s no mean feat to so dramatically change a character’s body type while keeping him completely recognizable.

What’s Not So Good: Hickman and Vitti try their damndest, but I feel that this comic was held back by just how close the series finale is.  In other words, this comic’s failings are due to Marvel, and not the creative team, which is probably one of the most irritating phenomena in comics.

Sebastian’s training, for example, has to be sped along in a montage.  In other words, due to only getting 22 pages, we get something good when we could’ve gotten some of the best comics of the year.

Basically, Hickman doesn’t have enough breathing room to fully evoke the sort of emotion and feeling that he could’ve gotten out of a Druid story.  He can’t milk it or expand upon it; rather, he just gets the job done.  As a result, we get the montage and Druid’s reunion with the team is a minor event.

Daisy’s reaction to JT’s death falls prey to the series’ conclusion as well; her strong emotional reaction is understandable, but we don’t quite feel it as we should, given that Hickman never really had the time to let the relationship fully blossom.

Conclusion: Good, but not great.  Blame Marvel.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans