With another shift in artists, this publishing event begins to feel like an artists’ jam rather than a coherent series with a clearly sustained vision. And I love me some Dodsons, actually, but here it just doesn’t work. Their style is “wedgey,” solid but soft, with a sleek line and polished finish. Tonally, however, it’s a complete mismatch for this series. Even the colors can’t help but be bright and bold, especially in the outdoor scenes surrounding the Avengers Tower, and it’s all brightly blue skies and soft glows when “Apocalypse is upon us.” Perhaps there is some intentional incongruity in this, since the “rebels” of Spider-Man and Steve Rogers have colored scenes of dark blues and shadowy grays, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It’s more like “well, this is outdoors so I guess it will be sunny,” regardless of how it could be used instead to visually create some of the story’s tension.
Assuming this is the middle of Act Two for our story, there are a few key moments advanced, but the feeling is that the story is spinning its wheels. More time is given to Captain America/the Avengers and Apocalypse/the X-Men as they advance their respective agendas, but it’s not much more than what we saw already. Other characters, however, that seemed to have the center stage at one point (didn’t this feel like an Iron Man series for a few issues?) are now completely absent. I feel like I would do well to stick with a key protagonist, such as Nova or Spider-Man, but that’s not given to me, as I have to instead stick with Captain America for the majority of the issue.
The problem with that is the lack of nuance. Neither Cap nor any of our inverted heroes have any inner struggle with their new status quo, so while they advance their agendas, it’s just like watching some union teamsters raise some scaffolding for their daily work. No nuance, no conflict, no tension. So we need heroes like Nova, Spidey, etc., as our focus, but, no, they are scuttled away for later use, against the Kluh threat which is very peripheral at this point. I was very much hoping that we’d get to see all of the villains (the ones that should now be our heroes) as our point of view characters. This would have been a perfect time for the Enchantress to re-create her Liberators team with the people of issue #3, adding Nova and Spider-Man to her ranks.
But maybe that’s for the best. More Spider-Man might mean more attempts at quippy humor, which clearly is not Remender’s strength. When Spider-Man is reduced to “working blue,” resorting to “Richard Rider” and catheter jokes, something’s forced.
Of course, a lot of the plotting feels forced, too. How would Spider-Man’s webbing cause Medusa to release Nova, actually? And the Invisible Woman, Beast, Vision and more were certainly acting all inverted-ly during their scene, but… Why? And after establishing that they are inverted, why would Captain America trap them along with everyone else? How does Apocalypse have his ship again, something that’s been through several stories since he owned it in the 80s, and why would the X-Men want New York so specifically? Why is the phrase “Apocalypse is upon us” repeated twice during the story; should it be significant or is it just sloppy?
Not much is added to the story, as it feels more like world-building and confirming what we've been suspecting. While that makes for a little, but unsatisfying, momentum, there's just too little real tension. The opportunity to really explore things and to introduce new ideas is diminishing, as the execution of the high concept has yet to really pay off. It's slipping into "Huh. Okay..." territory.
-- Story titles such as "Something Clearly Went Wrong" are always trouble when you're presenting a controversial and weak-ish story. Must... resist... troll... bait...
-- Something should really be done to enhance the Cast page. It's boring, poorly laid out, and redundant. If it's important, why not put it in the Recap summary? If it's not important, then why does it matter? And it gives mixed messages. For one, Nova should be among the Avengers listed, since that's why he's invited in the story, even if it leaves just Nomad listed as "Heroes." Poor lonely Nomad. I guess there *are* still heroes who aren't recruited as Avengers these days.