by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Leinil Francis Yu (Penciler), Gerry Alanguilan (Inker).

The Story: It’s Civil War part 2 as Captain America confronts Iron Man over his continued shadiness.

The Review: This was an extremely frustrating comic book, on the one hand Hickman’s Avengers Saga seems to be turning a corner and gaining momentum as it barrels along to its conclusion. On the other hand I had already read a third of this issue in New Avengers #1-4 last year. I can understand wanting to get readers up to speed but these pages succeed in doing little else, Bendis seems to be a big fan of re-framing sequences we’ve already read but usually shows it from another perspective that reveals something hidden or shows something new immediately preceding or following the scene. Here Hickman simply retells Captain America’s involvement with the Illuminati, making an already often slow moving story feel incredibly wasteful of the space it has to tell it’s story. It’s generally accepted that storytellers should show rather than tell when writing for a visual medium but here it does come off as an overly indulgent way to provide context for an issue.

Despite the issue I had with the first third of this issue, the fallout from Captain America remembering the Illuminati’s treachery is great as a righteously angry Captain America confronts Tony Stark as the Avengers are forced to quickly choose sides in the argument. Thor trying to placate Cap was an especially strong bit of characterisation for the two comrades, as was Tony Stark’s reversion back to his Civil War era attitude of “I know what is best and I’ll do what I have to regardless of who I have to screw over.” It seems almost a shame that this confrontation is interrupted by the re-emergence of the time gem which appears to fling the Avengers 48 years into the future, regardless of the outcome of this arc it’s enjoyable to see Hickman dealing with some emotional fallout after two years of  plot heavy stories.

The art by Leinil Francis Yu is a great fit for such a dark, moody and claustrophobic issue of Avengers, one of the best  things about his art in this issue was that the characters all had very distinct physicality, Starbrand looked like a skinny teenager for the first time in a while. The inks by Gerry Alanguilan were a little heavy at time but for the most part suited the dark and gloomy feel of this issue, the last page spread in this issue is especially well realised and finely inked by the artist creating a powerful sense of scope and scale. The colors by Sunny Gho are competently done but I can’t help but feel that a lot of the cold colour palettes used by colorists on this series are just adding to the clinical, antiseptic feeling of this series as a whole. At this point I’d be quite happy to see some warmth breathed back into this series to go along with its new found re-focus on characterisation.

Grade: C

-Liam Kelleher