by Nick Spencer, Ales Kot (Writers), Luke Ross (Artist), Matthew Wilson (Colorist)
The Story: Mockingbird gets her revenge as the weights of all the secrets may be too much for some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
The Review: Everyone have some preconceptions when it comes to finales. Whenever something conclude, many people hope to see a closure on the important themes, that each threads will get resolved and that there will be big moments that leave fans satisfied of the whole ride. Some books do deliver, some exceed expectations, yet some unfortunately comes short of greatness, which is always a tad regrettable for those who followed the whole thing.
This finale is, in its own ways, a strange beast as it manages to be all of those things, providing a certain sense of closure to the war against Andrew Forson, yet also goes out of its way to provide for some ending to other aspects that don’t all work.
One of the weirdest, yet strangely moving part is the one with Mentallo, one of the ministers of A.I.M. who was particularly depressed in this arc. While the few pages he received earlier never did seem especially important or relevant to the overall conflict shown, it was a certain showcase of a man hit by depression, by a cage of his own design and that wanted out. In this issue, both Kot and Spencer gives him a finale that is bizarre, but also utterly touching, with him doing plenty to help the only actual friend he had as well as setting himself free in a fashion that is creative, yet also true to the character.
A side that is also well played, yet in a way that feels a bit more true to the roots of the book is the one with the team and Maria Hill, with the secrets and the way the game is played being too much for many present in the heli-carrier. Opening with M.O.D.O.K and finishing with a term very familiar to fans of the series, those few pages encapsulate a lot of what Spencer and then Kot made work in this series. It’s a fitting ending to the current iteration of this team, with finishes on a panel focusing on Maria Hill, one of the better character of this series.
The ending which doesn’t resonate very well, though, is the one focusing on Mockingbird, as her final conflict against Andrew Forson and her final fate as she rejoins two other characters feel inconclusive. As if the series had stopped before those characters had the time to become important, the few finale pages focusing on Bobbi and the others seems a bit out of place in this bittersweet victory. Not exactly playing very well with the touching tidbits or the mostly ephemeral nature of spy warfare, it stand out as an oddity that doesn’t satisfy very much. Maybe it’s all part of Kot’s plan for the next volume, but as part of the finale, it is a bit hollow.
What’s clearly better, though, is the art of Luke Ross in this issue. Opening with a very brutal and downright personal number of pages between Andrew Forson and Mockingbird, Ross plays around and greatly enhance the savagery and the desperation in the fight thanks to the use of several panels. Making some of them superfluous to the story flow, yet somewhat integral for the visceral experience of the scene. Playing up the violence in a way that is slow, yet at the same time very fast in terms of visual pacing, the fear and the blood is superb, which shows a deep understanding to how simulating motion can be when it comes to action.
Still, the artist shows a very deep range with his talent, also going for bitter sweetness, relief, happiness and many other emotions just with the display of his panels and the elements found therein. Playing with the background as well as with the characters and their emotions, Luke Ross is able to pinpoint the right mood thanks to a good use of close-up panels, ensemble and the right angles. It has a certain cinematic feel, the good kind, that makes the work of Ross here very good.
Still, there are some points where it wouldn’t be as effective if it weren’t for Matthew Wilson and his talent for the atmospheric. Using darkness and low lighting to immensely great effect, Wilson use cold and warm colors within that particular paradigm to keep the themes of the book and the tone of each scene intact without resorting to cheap repetition and without restraining his work. All the while, the colorist makes each scenes work individually as well as a cohesive whole, giving each of them an identity that makes for a neat balance together with a good division between cold, warm, dark and bright that is splendid to behold. Enhancing already superb visual, Wilson makes for a definitively important addition to this book.
The Conclusion: While not all scenes and endings are equivalent to each other, the resonance of certain themes as well as the amazing artistic contribution of Luke Ross and Matthew Wilson makes this finale a great read despite some of the few flaws it possess.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière