By: Jeff Parker (Writer), Carlo Pagulayan, Patrick Olliffe, Wellington Alves (Artists), Guy Major (Colorist)
The Story: Betty, Aaron, Jennifer and Man-Thing deals with the Echelon soldiers and gets to know about the order of the Shield with Nikola Tesla.
The Review: What a pity.
It’s always hard to see a title go, to see that despite all their efforts, the creators could not make the book sell enough to warrant a continuation. God knows that in this market we have seen a lot of cancellation on splendid titles, with the likes of Winter Soldier and Dial H being taken away because sales were low. It’s never a good thing to see such things happen, but there are also worse things that can happen to books that are cancelled. One of these, unfortunately, is to have an unfitting an unrewarding conclusion.
I am sad to say that this is the case here as even though Jeff Parker tries his very best to give us a grand finale and to resolve every plot points he had seeded in his book, he does not succeed. What gives this impression would be the fact that he tries to conclude too many elements at the same time, which gives the issue a very rushed feeling as the action jumbles a bit chaotically, not letting the reader assimilate everything that happens at a pace that feels satisfactory.
Parker tries very hard though, providing some smart methods in order to finish the conflict that started the series, with the Echelon soldiers fighting in the world that has seen Betty becoming the Hulk instead of Bruce. He does go all the way in showing us just what those soldiers could be capable of and what kind of damage they could cause, yet he rushes the way Betty snaps out of her altered state in a way that feels unconvincing and very rushed. She just remembers in some ways that this is not the real world, gets out of there with General Fortean and moves on with Nikola Tesla and the others. That’s it. Sure, the resolution is sound, yet it’s what leads up to it that is unsatisfactory.
What is also a bit frustrating is the fact that not all characters are used in a way that feel like their presence is justified through the entire comic. Jennifer Walters is mostly featured in the beginning of the issue, yet does close to nothing around the middle part and in the end beside standing there and providing a line or two. The same goes for Man-Thing and Nikola Tesla, who are very interesting characters, yet just spout a line or two of exposition here and there and that’s it. The only character that has a bit more presence is Aaron Stack, which is befitting of the character as he is basically the co-star of this book. I do get that one of the gripe I had with the book was that Betty never felt like the star of her own book, yet to tease and feature some of these characters throughout the run of this book and ending up doing close to nothing with them feels like a waste.
What’s much more like it and has always been a part of the book’s stronger points would be the art. Sure, it had never been art that wowed like that of David Aja, Frank Quitely or Dustin Weaver, yet it was always consistently good in its portrayal of several elements, like machinery and action. Despite the fact that there is Patrick Olliffe that is added to the regular team of Wellington Alves and Carlo Pagulayan, it does not reduce the effectiveness of the flow or the pacing at all, as his style mesh up quite well with the work of the other two artists. The characters are expressive enough, the action has impact and it does a fair enough in providing us with enough information to see what happens. The only minor gripe I have, however, would be the fact that the separation between both world is done just a tad chaotically. Not enough to make it hard to understand for the readers, but it could have been a bit clearer.
The Conclusion: While the art is as good as it ever was, this issue does not work as well as a finale thanks to the rushed pacing and the fact that it tries to do too many things at once, leaving some elements untouched as a result.
Hugo Robberts Larivière