by Mark Waid (Writer), Mahmud Asrar (Artist), Val Staples (Colorist)
The Story: While trying to bring up the next greatest invention in the world for S.H.I.E.L.D., Bruce Banner gets to know and bond a bit with one of his assistants.
The Review: The concept behind this whole series by Mark Waid is one that was rather sound when it had been first been told to readers. Bruce Banner as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., getting funds and a team of assistant to finally be the genius he knew he was meant to be, letting them use Hulk a few times in exchange. The series began in a really strong manner, being both playful and allowing for big action and fun to merge together to create something that worked with the character. Ever-changing, the book had no problem experimenting in order to provide entertainment, something that is commendable.
However, with the numerous changes came a certain problem that is unfortunately apparent with this book: the lack of a stable cast of characters alongside a status quo. Sure, Maria Hill is a constant here, but most of the lab assistants haven’t received much of anything in terms of development or actual focus, with a small number of them being active in the Thor time-travelling story.
This, in turn, makes this issue a bit awkward as it focus a good deal on a character that has probably been in the background sometimes, yet hasn’t been particularly interesting or present until now. While the effort to present and deepen Jessup is certainly admirable, the introduction of the character to the story is a bit invasive, as he just enters the story and then becomes rather important suddenly. While his flashbacks sequences do develop him and sets up his motivations rather nicely, he still comes off as uninteresting in the light of all that happens in this issue.
Because there are actually a lot of fun moments and rather entertaining sequences here, with the focus on Banner trying to invent something only to find out others just beat him to it, or how Banner gets his funding. Most of the scenes focusing on the humour and the problems associated with Bruce Banner are actually rather well done, with a good balance between the real underlying problems of Bruce Banner as one of the many geniuses in a super hero universe.
The way the Hulk is used is also a bit fun, using him in a way that shows a good lot of humor along with showing his prowess in the action. The only downside is so much of the moments are dedicated to Jessup the moment he enter this story that he unfortunately overshadows everything. It may come off as a bit cheap, but they could have replaced the big ”Inhumanity” logo on the title with ”Jessup” and it would have been much closer to the truths of this issue, as there isn’t any mention of the events of Infinity or anything related to terrigenesis in this issue.
Despite all this, the art is very competent here, with Mahmud Asrar bringing in a mix of clean and cartoonish styles to provide visuals that are fitting with the characters and themes here. The way he is able to show a certain amount of details in most scenes without going overboard is rather good, as he is able to focus on what’s important in his scenes, be it the scenery or the characters. He is able to convey emotions in a way that is perhaps a bit too much, yet it does the job nonetheless. Where he is perhaps a bit underwhelming is in his visual pacing and narrative, with his flow not being the smoothest there is. The way he change the angle on the characters and setting is interesting, yet it does not contribute to the panel flow very well, which ends up hurting the issue a bit as a result. The work of Asrar is competent here, but it isn’t really mind blowing.
Val Staples could also be qualified as such, as while the colorization does its job in this issue, it does not manage to enhance the visuals nor provide anything more to the story. It’s not entirely bad, far from it, as some of the lighting effects used in the first scene along with the smaller amount of colors is pretty great, while some other scenes are high in energy and vitality, but most of them use a god amount of the same dull colors, with a little amount of more lively colors to shake things up. White, grey and beige aren’t exactly very interesting colors, to say the least.
The Conclusion: There are some occasional fun moments and the art and colors are generally competent, yet the heavy focus on a rather boring secondary character makes for an uneven reading experience.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière