It’s all-out action as M.O.D.O.K. and Angela flee/exterminate the entire guild of assassins, that is, all nine or ten of them, until something stranger comes along to be a cliffhanger.
As an action issue, this is just crazy fun. Nearly every page has some strange display of power or special move that results in explosion, fire, speed lines, or even gratuitous blood-letting and decapitation. It doesn’t take until the third eyeball pops out of an exploding head before you realize that this comic is going for some exaggerated humor of violence. Most of the time, this hyperbole is played perfectly straight by the characters— it’s completely second nature to them, after all, but there are touches of outright silliness, mostly because we have a character like Hit Monkey and things like chainsaws as part of M.O.D.O.K.’s array.
The problem is that I keep looking for some touches of nuance that I seemed to remember from the first issue, or perhaps some new metacommentary or hints that there’s something deeper going on here. No, instead it’s pretty much just mayhem for the sake of mayhem.
Our main characters aren’t given a chance to develop more than what’s been presented from the start. M.O.D.O.K. is still as egocentric but lovesick as before, and Angela doesn’t really exist for more than being a MacGuffin for plot and the aforementioned M.O.D.O.K. “trait.” Ha ha. Get it? He’s ugly but he’s in love? I hope you get it, ‘cause that joke’s gotta stretch for four issues.
The art seems to be suffering, too. Whereas before there might have been some weaknesses that were easily forgivable, there are more and more weak spots showing through at this point, particularly in things like basic anatomy for our characters. Even as early as the third page, Angela’s pose looks competent at first glance, but really it’s distorted in perspective and unbalanced in proportion. Similarly, when Screaming Mimi stretches in her second paneled appearance, page 5, it’s grossly out of proportion even though the pose is strongly expressive. And why can’t Angela’s axe appear solidly straight? Either there are no handy straightedges next to the artists’ boards or the thing is supposed to be made of rubber. And if you look real close, there’s a coloring error that makes it look like Angela had some boob slippage at one point. Although I’m sure it happens all the time off-panel with that outfit.
The line work is quite strange. I’d be interested to know if there was something different in the production. Most of the time, the inking appears quite pixelated or rasterized, as if certain things were blown up from a different size or perhaps a custom brush was used but with a texture that lends a rough quality. The result in any case is that the figures overall feel rough and unfinished. There’s no sense of weight or form and instead the coloring has to make up for things like shadows and rendering. To be fair, I’ve always preferred a clean, thick-and-thin line, so it might just be a matter of taste.
I did have a lot of fun seeing a lot of characters that don’t get a lot of spotlight. (Of course, in these days of hero-on-hero antagonism, *any* villain is unlikely to get a spotlight.) So having Hit Monkey and Jack O’ Lantern show up is quite fun, and it does lend opportunity for some funny lines like “I speak of your death, vegetable-faced killer!” And there’s something very funny about having M.O.D.O.K. laugh at Doctor Octopus. It’s too bad that our time in Killville is somehow devolving into a pretty generic free-for-all when it seemed poised for much more in the beginning.
The grade is slipping with this one. Perhaps the gratuitous violence and slapstick gore is meant to be a parody, but it’s actually becoming a one-note joke and parody of itself. It’s going through the same motions that it set up in issue one, with little opportunity to reach for more depth than some oversimplified character traits and a mystery that needs more panels devoted to the subplot if we are meant to be intrigued by something larger going on. If you’re looking for some mindless fun, of course, it certainly delivers that,