Comic Vine Review

14 Comments

Avengers Undercover #8 - Going Native Part Three Review

3

It’s been three months, and the Undercover team is beginning to show cracks in their determination.

The Good

Jumping forward in a book that focuses mostly on the psychological consequences is not a bad idea, seeing as how most internal changes happen at a much slower rate than external ones, and this book is all about change. This issue picks up three months after the initial contact with Baron Zemo’s underground collective and it becomes quickly clear that the some of the group are having second thoughts about their initial mission of “bring them down from the inside.” Dennis Hopeless has never shied away from the uglier aspects of being a teen superhero, so the emotions run hot and are constantly shifting, but generally in a way that serves the characters rather than the plot. We also get to see Madame Masque invite a small group of the kids into the bigtime plots, which involve using Mystique and Sabretooth's forces on Madripoor to run interference while a real, major strike goes down. Twists and turns abound and a great many of our core characters are left in a very, very different place than they were eight, or even two, issues ago.

Tigh Walker takes over linework and does a good job keeping the tone of frenetic, frantic action going throughout the issue with some solid facial features and expressions to go with them. The characters, for the most part, continue to look extremely distinct and stand out from one another and the jagged visuals match the hard-edged, sharp tone of the issue well as well. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors are right there as well, muddy and bright, both communicating the twisted, indistinct morals of the cast and juxtaposing the few moments of happiness with the more grim events and overall tone.

The Bad

I’ve been a fan of this series, and AVENGERS ARENA before it, and never put much stock in the argument that the characters in either title were behaving contrarily to how they’d been previously established. These were teenagers thrust into a situation that was absolutely insane, and teens aren’t known for the coping skills in the best of times, so some erratic actions were to be expected. There’s no reason, then, that Madame Masque be as ditzy, shallow and vapid as she’s written in this issue. She’s never been my favorite villain, but she comes off more like the spoiled, bratty daughter of the actual Madame as she’s written here. Vanity has always been a part of her character, but this leaves her downright undignified and she's central the issue, so it stands out far, far more than it ordinarily would.

The visuals do match the writing and, while there are parts highlighted above that I enjoy, overall this is a very scattershot issue. We’re supposed to be getting ideas of where everyone is after three months, but we barely get snapshots of some characters and the ones we DO get have a tendency to tell rather than show where they are mentally. Additionally, there’s a massive reveal from last issue that only gets a single throwaway panel in this one. I’m all for teasing out an explanation, but we barely get any kind of acknowledgement of it and that's a step too far.

The Verdict

This is a single issue that feels like it should have been at least two issues. I wouldn’t have minded taking our time and really seeing where all the former Murder World kids are, particularly with a little more internal monologue and character focus. I’m still interested in seeing where this story goes, and I still really like these characters, but this issue felt like it was hurrying both in terms of the writing and the art.

15 Comments
Posted by Noteworthington

I think this is supposed to portray Madame Masque, and the other villains as well, in the private, not usually seen light of how they behave when they are all villain friends, hanging out, not fighting off Avengers etc, during their crimes.

Stopping to grab some goodies during a fight, for example, she might not be able to do if Thor is bearing down on her.

Just my take on it.

Posted by blackkitty

My take is simple. None of these characters are behaving as they'r written. You can say they're teenagers but sorry, they're heroes. I don't put stock in the whole concept of unusual situations change people. In the end these are the heroes I like, these are the heroes I want to see and having them behave as villains really turns me off.

Edited by micah

My take is simple. None of these characters are behaving as they'r written. You can say they're teenagers but sorry, they're heroes. I don't put stock in the whole concept of unusual situations change people. In the end these are the heroes I like, these are the heroes I want to see and having them behave as villains really turns me off.

Well it goes to show the world is not black and white. That's what Avengers Arena showed us, even heroes can descend into madness in the right situation. To me no one is 100% a hero or villain, to me characters can change sides instantly with just the right push.

Posted by InkInk

@micah said:

@blackkitty said:

My take is simple. None of these characters are behaving as they'r written. You can say they're teenagers but sorry, they're heroes. I don't put stock in the whole concept of unusual situations change people. In the end these are the heroes I like, these are the heroes I want to see and having them behave as villains really turns me off.

Well it goes to show the world is not black and white. That's what Avengers Arena showed us, even heroes can descend into madness in the right situation. To me no one is 100% a hero or villain, to me characters can change sides instantly with just the right push.

Face it Arena stood for nothing. It was a pathetic rushed concept that was slapped together to attempt to cash in on the Hunger Games/ Battle Royal fan base that was at an all time high when it started. Characters act how the writer wants them to act there was no deeper meaning in Arena. The proof we got from that series is Hopeless is a hack and it continues in this series.

Posted by Noteworthington

Lotta pessimism here, I wonder how your attitudes would change if you enjoyed reading comic books! You should give it a try!

Posted by Noteworthington

My take is simple. None of these characters are behaving as they'r written. You can say they're teenagers but sorry, they're heroes. I don't put stock in the whole concept of unusual situations change people. In the end these are the heroes I like, these are the heroes I want to see and having them behave as villains really turns me off.

Are you saying a hero is a person that behaves the same way, predictably? That doesn't seem to be at all realistic, or what happens in comic books!

If situations don't change people, what does? Do people change at all then? Were you born exactly the way you are right now, with the same opinions, unerring?

It sounds like you don't like the book, that's about as much as you can really say.

Edited by Teerack

I hope this series has another Pym issue like they did in Avengers Arena, and I REALLY hope this has been building to big Pym moment from Avengers Academy to now.

Honestly I don't think Masque was all that different in this from how she is presented in Hawkeye, and all of the stuff we saw back in the mid 2000s when The Hood was a big deal. I think the way her and Mystique asked in this issue really fit in with the whole feel of the series.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

Don't get the criticisms about Mystique, she's not an integral part of the story and I don't see why the writer should waste time with an unimportant character when there is so much going on.

And for the most part, these characters are very close to how they use to be, ESPECIALLY hazmat, the only one who has really gone of the rails is Nico, but at this point I'm hopefully that she'll snap out of it, considering her change was actually touched upon. Either ways, it's not like these characters went through a 180 degree change, like X-23, who is written completely and utterly out of character by Bendis.

This is miles better than Avengers arena at least there is some actual development here. Hazmat is really growing on me, and I'm genuinely interested in how things turn out for these kids.

Oh, and Deathlocked is a b*tch.

Posted by RaggedScarecrow

@theacidskull: Yeah, Hazmat was the star of this issue. You don't get much more badass than taking out 9 supervillains single-handedly (including Deathlockette 'cause it's pretty obvious that she's "broken bad").

Posted by majingojira

I'm surprised no commentary has been given about the Hazmat/Anachronism hookup, which thanks to this series being cut short is rushed as all hell, comes off about as natural as polyester, and has all the chemistry of purified water.

Other than that, I agree with the general rating. Different things irked me about this issue than in this review, but the overall sentiment of how flawed this issue is remains.

Posted by werst9

Not the best issue by far but post time skips usually need to be fleshed out a bit over more than 1 issue. I think madam with the kids was an act to keep their trust. Anachronism and hazmat won't last its probably just them being comfortable with someone who knows what its like to lose someone you love more than chemistry. Deathlocket breaking legit bad works, cammis still in prison but shell be back in the story by next issue. For me 7.5 good but not great

Posted by MadamFireblade

@majingojira: Honestly I don't think it was THAT rushed. I mean in previous issues you saw them starting to bond and over the 3 months skipped they would of gotten a lot closer too.

Edited by majingojira

@madamfireblade I really can't give credit for off screen events in a story. If it's not included, I can't see if its done well or not, so no credit can be given. It's like grading a paper: I grade the work that's done, not the implied work.

The speed of this relationship also helps invalidate any supposed meaning Mettle's death had. It was a pretty short time in-Universe (8 months), and there really wasn't much done with the death from a dramatic standpoint (and what was done was simplistic and highly flawed). The same applies to Nara (but to me she was always a flat character, even after being expanded upon in her own focus issue).

There's other aspects of the relationship itself which are equally nauseating, but having to little done to build it up, and doing it so soon after they both lost loved ones makes the entire relationship hollow. Now, that could actually work if the narrative was at least aware of that aspect (like Nico and Chase's hookup at the end of Runaways volume 3), but thanks to Madame Mask's gushing, that's pretty much out the window.

Of course, one of my major problems with Dennis Hopleess' writing is that I can't tell if he realizes the implications of what he's doing or not.

Posted by akbogert

Of course, one of my major problems with Dennis Hopeless' writing is that I can't tell if he realizes the implications of what he's doing or not.

Heh.