by Rick Remender (Writer), Nic Klein (Artist), Dean White (Colorist)

The Story: A groovy new villain called Dr. Mindbubble makes himself known, spelling insane doom for S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Review
: Introducing new elements has got to be hard. Presenting new characters, new concepts and making them stick for new readers must be ready, with plenty of them always ready to be cynical when approaching new things. Not all newer elements to large continuity are appreciated, with words like Midi-chlorians, Romulus and other such ”nice” ideas being conveniently forgotten by many.

However, it can be achieved if done right, with some of the ideas that Rick Remender injected in the larger Marvel continuity being particularly sound. What he brought to the character of Apocalypse, to Wolverine and to some older concepts like Deathlok and the four horsemen are really nice extrapolations combined with new interpretations that did give something exciting to read.

However, just because he did something particularly good once does not mean that he is infallible, with his run on Captain America being an example of this. While packed with some ideas that are decidedly not bad at all, there is a certain shyness in the presentation and elaboration of some of the implications that some concepts have. While it is a traditional storytelling technique to slowly reveal new elements as the story progress, it is never a good thing to make readers wait too long either when it comes to surprises.

In this issue, Remender finally presents readers the character of Dr. Mindbubble, a character that has been teased since his Uncanny X-Force run as a statue in the background. With a rather amazing concept behind his creation, that of injecting a super-soldier serum inside him along with LSD, this creates for a troubled, yet groovy types of villain that could prove to be interesting if handled right. However, while the personality of the villain proves to be a tiny bit fun, there are several problems that don’t exactly make him as good as he very well could be.

In his introduction, he is shown to have a certain connection to Ran Shen, the Iron Nail, as well as Nuke. Showing a certain mystery to his past is a good move, yet there is a certain knowledge he possess of the present that is rather inexplicable. Part of this problem is due to the fact that, for now, his powers aren’t explained, with only speculations being available as far as how he operates. Giving a rather precise assessment of Marcus Johnson, a man he most probably never met before, the implications of his powers becomes more of a tease then a true compelling mystery.

Still, while a good lot of this issue is dedicated to Dr. Mindbubble, Steve Rogers is still a rather apt presence here. Showing the character in doubt and interacting with Jet Black makes for some interesting moments, yet it seems that both characters are treading the same water for a while, with Steve being a bit more prone to violence and doubt, while Jet is still skeptical of the valor of this world when compared to her older one. There are some action scenes and enough potent dialogue in some places to provide some form of entertainment, but the introduction of this new arc isn’t doing much that wasn’t already shown before in the previous arc of the title with Ran Shen planning in the shadow.

One of the better aspects of this issue, however, is Nic Klein, who brings his talent with him. While a bit subdued when compared to his work on excellent series like Winter Soldier and Dancer, his sense of pacing and his panelling does provide for enough dynamism and scope to let the visuals complement the story very well. His characters are evocative, with just enough focus on their action and reaction to let the emotions do their job without being too stereotypical. Adding a certain nuance and a certain subtlety to the expressions, the characters become even more believable, with the melancholy of Steve and the fears of Marcus Johnson being easily identifiable in the context in which they are shown.

His attention to the action is also quite good, with a good sense of movement, speed and impact that leaves them effective without being repetitive or overly too long. His attention to depth, scale and scope is also very fine, which benefits the backgrounds and the scenes in which the characters interacts. The ways in which he shows the tops of mountains, the streets of New York and the underground bases makes for a very easily identifiable, but also helpful use of sceneries. Using them to his advantage, there is a definite knowledge of their importance in his work.

Still, even with the best artists, a bad color work can make the visuals troublesome. Thankfully, Dean White is by no mean a bad colorist, with his shading and use of many contrasts in the same page being handled very well here. With a certain penchant for more psychedelic colors in some scenes and more classical ones in others, White is able to bring out a certain balance in his work here while bringing a great range in terms of diversity. It is not his most striking and experimental work, but it is very potent nonetheless.

The Conclusion: There might be some very talented people bringing up some beautiful visuals thanks to the pencils and the colors, but the rethread of some points and the lack of explanations for some of the newer points does not make for the most interesting of introductions to a new arc. Decent, but not quite up on par with the level of talent here.

Grade: C+

Hugo Robberts Larivière

*However, considering the general direction in which this title is going as well as the uneven quality of the book so far, I am dropping this title from my list. This results in the fact that I shall no longer review this title. In others and shorter terms: dropped.