by Jonathan Hickman (writer), David Marquez & Alessandro Vitti (art), IFS (colors), and Dave Lanphear (letters)

The Story: We learn the unfortunate fate of Mikel Fury’s team.

The Review: This month, we meet the other team that Nick’s gathered, that led by his son Mikel.  Amazingly, in the little space we have to meet each member of the team, Hickman gives us cool characters with equally concepts and personalities.  Despite these being brand-spanking new characters with a mere two-page scene a-piece, each feels and looks unique.  That’s no small feat.  Either way, it’s hard not to read this issue and think that this team could’ve made for one heck of a fun series in their own right.  They’re a lot of fun and the histories, banter, and dynamics feel far from throw away.

But really, why the hell are we meeting these characters for the first time this close to the series conclusion?

It’s a really strange choice for Jonathan Hickman and he’s ultimately fighting a losing battle, especially how he ends this issue.  As we already knew, this team would eventually meet their demise but the fact that Hickman decides to show their introduction and their end in 22 pages is an impossible endeavor.  I’m not even quite sure why he attempted it.  While each of the characters is cool, we have nowhere near the attachment or understanding of any of them to really give much of a crap about their ultimate fate.  To introduce them and end them in one issue and expect us to care, or get anything out of it, is kind of ludicrous.

And frankly, these characters, new as they are, deserved better.  Thought and work clearly went into them and it sucks to see them dealt with like this, as no more than disposable narrative furniture.  Quite frankly, the story Hickman has on his hands for this issue is a good one, but it’s one that should’ve been spread over a full story-arc at the very least, not a single issue.  I mean, we don’t even meet two of the team’s members.  Hickman ran out of space to even get through all the introductions, so the last two characters are just quickly mentioned in a couple lines of dialogue.  That should’ve sent alarm bells off.

It’s a shame that Hickman’s creative decisions this month are so dubious, as series newcomer David Marquez really puts on an absolute show for us this month.  He holds onto Secret Warriors’ visual MO but, quite frankly, I actually found his work to be more enjoyable than series mainstay Alessandro Vitti.  His characters look likable, his draws emotions very well, and at some points, he even gets creative in his illustration of the various characters’ introductions.   There’s a particularly gorgeous pair of pages where Marquez tells the origin of a fantasy-styled hero, making the comic take on a weather, parchment look with scratchier artwork.  It’s beautiful stuff.

Conclusion: While the artwork is fantastic, I really have no idea what the hell Hickman was thinking with this one.

Grade: C –

-Alex Evans