by Rick Remender (Writer), Steve McNiven, John Dell, Dexter Vines, Jay Leisten (Artists), Laura Martin (Colorist)
The Story: As Wasp fights the revived Sentry, the plan of the Apocalypse twins takes a rather sinister turn.
The Review: With the way the previous issue went down, I suppose it’s fair to assume that Rick Remender is not kidding around with this storyline. While I did enjoy this series in a general way, there was always something holding it back a bit. Either it was too much buildup for not enough payoff or the fact that the cast was so divided it provided for too many subplots at the same time, the book had its problems. However, with the arrival of Steve McNiven and the rather explosive last issue, does Remender actually succeed in upping the ante for this title?
It finally seems that yes, Remender actually did end up giving the gravitas and the high energy this title needed in some of its previous issues. Due to many elements handled very well, he is able to give the fans that were following the book quite a lot of great moments as he continues to make the conflict bigger with each issues.
Where he goes right, in a way, is in how he switch the focus on other characters instead of those that were in the conflict where those who died were situated. Putting Captain America, Wasp and Thor on the spotlight, he is able to not only rotate the focus a bit more on some characters that did not receive that much focus to begin with, but get in their head as well. We get to know how Captain America perceives this team and how he thinks he failed them, how Wasp sees her super heroic side and how some characters reacts to some unseemly news. It seems a bit of a waste to put characters like Sunfire, Havok and Wolverine on the side, yet he does quite a lot with this trio of characters in order to advance his plot.
Of course, one of Remender’s strength isn’t just how he can deal with characters, but how he is able to put their abilities in the most spectacular of fashions. Those that were fans of Uncanny X-Force and how Remender got the different powers of the cast in rather awesome scenes should certainly be delighted to see how she is able to actually fight the Sentry. The action scene starts Sentry, Wasp and a little help from Thor near the end, but it manages to never get in the way of the story and the characterization. Here, we see just why Janet Van Dyne was actually part of the Avengers to begin with, leading to some very cool visuals and concepts as she fights the particularly overpowered Sentry.
Still, all the action in the world or decent characterization could never really amount to much if there wasn’t any solid plot to back it up. Thankfully, quite a lot of the previous buildup is unleashed here, such as why the Apocalypse twins manipulated the heroes, why they stole Jarnbjorn, why they killed a celestial and so on. For fans that were eating everything up, this is a feast of cosmic proportions as the story can only gets bigger from here now on.
The only thing that unfortunately comes as a little disappointing in this issue are the Apocalypse twins themselves, as their personality and how they accomplish some of their objectives comes as a little too great, a little bit too easy. While their back-story proved to be rather interesting, they become a bit less-so when they finally unveil themselves and explain some of their methods, like how they went on to manipulate Scarlet Witch and how they actually knew how to counter-act her spells. It reeks a bit of ”perfect villain” materials which does not really helps in making them great on their own.
Still, it is but one minor problem in a plethora of good stuff, like Steve McNiven and his army of inkers. Considering the fact that a majority of this issue is focused on a singular action scene, the dynamic panelling and fast-paced visual storytelling come as a huge help to this issue. Putting a lot of energy, motion and a rather great sense of impact on the pages, the fight between Wasp and Sentry comes as rather great to see, with a lot of diversity in terms of angle, elements and powers being used. The characters also do have a great number of poses and details, including a rather creepy page with Sentry being ominous and perturbing. The facial expressions are also subtle enough, yet not so that it ends up being too small for its own good. The sense of scope is also pretty neat, considering one of the important character gets smaller or bigger, with enough depth and size comparisons to pull this off without any problem. The scenery and backgrounds do end up getting a tad repetitive, though. They are nicely drawn and they do add to the weirdness of the fight, yet the same cosmic background does not make for much diversity.
Contributing to the general visual quality is Laura Martin, who brings quite a lot of diversity thanks to her colors. Due to her dealing with more cosmic and technologic details, she is able to bring a good number of diverse lighting effects, adding to the energy crackling and to the vast powers being used in the scenes. Getting a good balance between the darkness of space and the more alien scenery, Laura Martin is able to convey a good dose of shading in both subtle and rather bombastic ways, which makes this issue rather impressive in terms of visuals thanks to the way she collaborate with everything.
The Conclusion: Thanks to a rather impressive action, some very decent characterization and a good dose of payoffs, the creative team manages to bring one of the best issues of this series yet. A treat for those that were following this series hoping it would get better.
Hugo Robberts Larivière