by Rick Remender (Writer), Pascal Alixe (Artist), Edgar Delgado, Antonio Fabela, Israel Silva (Colorists)
The Story: As it turns out, Jet Black really doesn’t like our world. Who knew?
The Review: Liking a character, a concept or an approach does not necessarily means an issue featuring them will immediately be good. While we may have a soft spot for some elements of a particular universe or title, it can somewhat blind us to other undesired elements, resulting in a less-than satisfying read.
I rather like Captain America and Rick Remender as a writer, yet there has been something missing ever since the book got away from Dimension Z. While there have been a good number of earnest attempts at playing with the mythology around the character while adding new layers and new elements around Steve Rogers, there is simply something that does not click as well as it should. Still, with the addition of a new villain and the beginning of a new arc, perhaps Remender can steer this title in an interesting direction?
Unfortunately, this issue isn’t the best of beginnings as far as introductions are concerned. Dealing with how Jet Black, a character Remender hasn’t done much with, deals with the way things are on Earth, her voice becomes clear and very well-defined. Pushing forth the difference in her philosophy, that of a warrior of science, against the outlook of life in New York, there is the beginning of a potentially great character arc on display here. Unfortunately, her demeanour and her vision becomes quickly repetitive, with Jet Black becoming cyclical in her reactions and actions, which hurts the general storytelling. Making her understandable, yet rather unlikable, the issue never lets her advance very far in her personal arc. While this sets her up for a more proactive role in this series in the future, this doesn’t work very well in making it so the readers might possibly want for her to be present.*
Thankfully, other elements are put on display to make the issue a tad more interesting, with Red Skull and his S-Men being present. Using the new status quo for this character and his powers in rather striking fashion, Remender does sell the menace the character represents without delving into cartoonish endeavours. There is a certain horror to the character that is rather imaginative, with the scene involving him being rather entertaining as a whole.
However, despite the characterization of Red Skull and the repeated traits of Jet Black, there isn’t simply much to this issue. While Remender does add some explanation on the gospel of the S-Men by adding some Marvel lore to it all, what happens here can be summarized in very few lines, with nothing much of immediate consequences truly happening. Stretching this story in a manner that seems a bit farcical, the fact that it doesn’t accomplish much in a relatively high number of pages makes this a bit of a disappointment.
What’s also a bit disappointing is the art of Pascal Alixe. While it is by no mean terrible, there is a certain lack of stability in terms of quality. While his up close characters and most of his backgrounds are rather well done, most of the farther elements are a bit too rough and imprecise to had anything of consequences to the story. Some of his characters, like Red Skull and Jet Black in some pages are very iconic in their look, with one of the scariest Nazi super-villain being presented here. However, some of the other human characters are a bit muddied in their facial traits and expressions, making them look a bit ugly and inhuman in the process. Still, despite some of his faults, Alixe does understand the importance of fluid storytelling, which is very good here, with a good sense of panel to panel progression. Using the illusion of movement rather well, the pacing isn’t flawless, but is of enough quality to be more than effective in other areas.
An area which could be qualified in pretty much the same terms is the colorization, as done by Edgar Delgado, Antonio Fabela and Israel Silva. With the issue mostly set on how Jet Black envision things, the tone is done very well by all three colorists, bringing a duller and darker quality to everything. Pushing grey, white, beige, brown and a good number of variations on these colors, the city of New York and the vision of Jet Black is aptly reproduced on the pages. However, as thematically fitting as they are, they do not manage to make this issue very exciting or potent visually, with not a lot of diversity added to most scenes, save for the scene with Red Skull. Despite a few warm colors here and there as well as some smaller touches of cold, the issue manages to be consistent in colorization despite it not being very stimulating. It’s a mixed success as a whole.
The Conclusion: Cementing repeatedly the characteristics of Jet Black and presenting once more some of his concepts for the Marvel universe, Remender does not manage to do much beside this in this issue. Combined with somewhat good yet problematic art and colorization, the message is sent, but does not make for a nice introduction to the series, the characters or the themes in way that could be deemed effective. A very mixed bag.
Hugo Robberts Larivière
*In concordance to my general vision of things, I only had this picture in mind when reading this issue whenever Jet Black spoke. To say it made it a bit more enjoyable for me would be an understatement.