by Charles Soule (Writer), Carlo Barberi (Artist), Israel Silva (Colorist)
The Story: Who knew that Hell would be so violent toward those that tries to challenge and overthrow their ruler?
The Review: There are times when, even if one might really like character exploration, big concepts or huge surprises, a person crave for action. With super hero comics being definitely known for delivering on said conflicts and fisticuffs, it’s nice to see that you can sometime count on a genre to deliver on a specific desire.
It is exactly what this conclusion to this arc brings to the table, with plenty of demon-bashing and violent tendencies being shown on the page. However, while a certain aspect might be satisfying, does Charles Soule deliver on other important aspects as well?
It’s a fine enough job, although it certainly isn’t perfect by any means. What work, though, is the continued combination of violence, dysfunctional character and humor that makes the scenes flow very naturally together for the most part. The normalization of violence and the setting in which the team is currently in makes for a strangely effective story, with the focus on action only enhancing the general allure.
What’s also quite good is the way Soule plays around with the character, with him having quite a lot of fun with characters like Ghost Rider, Red Leader, Red Hulk, Punisher and Deadpool. Playing with their quirks, desires and their speech pattern, the humor, action and chaos is accentuated by their reactions, with some moments being satisfying for fans.
Not all characters gets the same amount of work, though, with Elektra and Venom being a bit left on the side. Having few lines and few incidences on the plot, their inclusion seems more like a necessity of the concept rather than a natural and integral part of this present arc. They are present, but certainly not that important.
Still, despite it all, the aforementioned action takes a bit of precedence on the plot, which allows for cool moments and a display of some of the more brutal inclinations. However, the action doesn’t remove the importance of the plot, with the fight for Hell being still a focal point to the evolution of the team in many ways. Mephisto’s machinations, the deal they made and how they want to remove Mercy from their grasp is still dealt with in a manner that is generally entertaining and satisfying.
However, there are some moments and some decisions that are somewhat rushed and pushed aside for the sake of the story. Why exactly did Deadpool wanted to go to Heaven? Why did the feather instinctively heal Frank? How come Ross actually knows who Guido is? There are a few moments like this in the issue that are a bit mind-boggling, with not quite enough context and explanations given to allow the readers to understand everything. While it does allow for plot progression and some small amount of change for the team, these kind of sacrifices are somewhat cheap in a way, robbing potential to the book.
Still, an aspect which had potential and actually reached it is the art, with Carlo Barberi being very decent in this specific issue. Illustrating the chaos of violence and of the underworld very aptly, Barberi is able to show large groups and many effects in the same panels and pages without much of the finer details get lost. While his backgrounds are somewhat generic, the artist makes up for it with a talent for mayhem and panel composition that allows for some of more conceptually cool moments to shine.
Despite it all, Barberi also doesn’t slouch with the expressions of the characters, allowing for a good range of emotions in some key moments. While some of his faces are decidedly too pretty looking, with Red Leader and Frank Castle being rather obvious examples, the more monstrous visage do tend to be fine-looking in terms of difference of style. With a good sense of impact and scale, he is also very apt at delivering on most front for what’s important in this issue.
What’s also notable, though a bit less so, in terms of talent is Israel Silva with his work on hellish landscapes and destruction showing in his color work. Playing in major ways with the thematic black and red of this title, Silva is able to show a good balance between the two with the scenes in Hell, playing with brightness and darkness quite well in most cases. One of the weaker point, though, is the diversity, with few pages to balance things out or show diversity. The amount of pages showing colder and brighter colors are few, with lesser emphasis on Mercy and her fight against Frank and Elektra. For the focal point of this issue, though, Silva makes a fine job with what he has to illustrate, presenting the characters and the setting aptly despite the few weaknesses of the book.
The Conclusion: There might be some small problems with some characters and with some rushed aspects, but the balance between humor, action and development combined with a rather solid artistic display from both Barberi and Silva makes this issue worth it despite its few flaws.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière