Charles Soule (Writer), Jefte Palo, Terry Pallot (Artists), Guru eFX (Colorist)

The Plot: It’s Frank Castle’s turn at choosing the mission the team has to do as he explain just what he has in mind for this team to do. Lucky him, the Avengers are in space…

The Review: Following characters isn’t something that is logically sound when one thinks about it. While a reader might want to know everything that happens with a certain character he or she grew to like, it does not mean that person will get quality stories featuring the beloved fictional being as not every writer know how to handle things the way those people like it. The more a character is popular, the worse it can get as you can get characters that get poor or uneven characterization, resulting in frustrating experiences for the aforementioned reader.

While I do rather like characters like Frank Castle, Deadpool, Venom and Elektra, the main reason I gave this title a shot to begin with was to see Red Hulk, a.k.a General Ross in action, a character that Jeff Parker made me like immensely in the solo title he once possessed. However, I only did so recently as Charles Soule, the current writer of Swamp Thing, went in with another artist to give a new direction and a shot in the arm to this title that needed it. Does he succeed in keeping the characterization and giving some quality to this team now that he is actually writing them all in action for the first time?

He is quite competent actually, as not only Soule understand the dynamic between each characters and how their personalities might clash, but he does so in a way that is entertaining. This result in a team that is barely functional (as exposed by Deadpool nicknaming the team ”The Selfish Avengers”), yet it is one that is professional enough to get their task done. The military tone and their awkward morality comes in play here, as it creates a vibe that is different from a lot of the team out there, one that is not unlike Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. It’s not quite there in terms of quality when it comes to comparison, yet the characters are well-written, especially Frank Castle and Red Hulk. The only one I could have any disappointment about would be Flash Thompson, who comes as rather gullible and without any real personality, going with the flow without doing anything much.

The story itself does not do much as well, yet it is competently put as well, as it is mostly set up. The story set up the status quo and what the arc will be about without giving too much in terms of action, plot twist or anything like it. It gives away information, show us the interaction between the team as Soule hints at what he’ll flesh out during his run in terms of characterization and development. Soule does show the readers how the team perform along with some fun concepts along the way, like how a cow is affected by gamma radiation and the Paguro family, which does give some credence to the title in terms of entertainment. One of the lesser aspect, although it is a minor one, would be the tie-in to Infinity, as those who bought this issue in order to get more mileage from the ongoing event might be disappointed, as it is only featured in the final pages as a tease toward what is coming.

Another disappointment, and a major one, is Jefte Palo. While he did some good work in books like Black Panther, he is far in terms of quality from his short stint on that title as his style goes in the way of the story. While he is able to have a good narrative flow with his panels and he is able to show some of the weirder concepts aptly, a lot of his efforts are flushed down by how the characters look. Simply put, the exaggeration and clunky lines, coupled with the lack of subtle expressions and the occasional lack of scale makes the characters look ugly most of the time. It’s a shame as the background, details and several of the objects are good-looking, yet the characters are simply in the way of the enjoyment, as they look like caricature of how they are supposed to look like to begin with, with Red Hulk being especially guilty of this.

It’s doubly shameful, as the colorization by Guru eFX isn’t bad at all. While the colors aren’t the most complex, the use of simpler tones in most panels and pages doesn’t detract anything from the story. There are occasional moments of brilliance in terms of simplicity, yet there are close to no major or even minor missteps here. This is not absolutely impressive, yet everything mesh well together enough for the readers to be satisfied by the coloring in the end.

The Conclusion: Soule brings some fun interactions, ideas and a good direction for the title, yet is impaired by some missteps from Jefte Palo along the way. It’s a rare case of strong story, yet weak art.

Grade: B-

Hugo Robberts Larivière