I can’t even begin to start explaining the plot of this issue without going back and overtly spoiling the previous ones, so I’ll just say that Nick Fury Jr., Hawkeye and Black Widow have turned their capture into a rescue party while Mockingbird wrestles with who she truly is Maria Hill is forced to endure the increasingly odd demands of a turncoat M.O.D.O.K. who wishes to wrest A.I.M. from its current master. And we suffered an incredible loss last issue that seems to be carrying over to this one. Yes, THAT’s the short, concise version. Nick Spencer and Ales Kot don’t even stop to catch their breath this issue, it is one of the most breakneck, fast-paced single issues I’ve ever read and I love it. There are twists hidden within twists, but they rarely feel forced and that’s partially due to the strange world these characters inhabit. In a world of L.M.D.s, holographic camouflage, and space deities, the unexpected can be expected, but rarely anticipated. I know this isn’t the first title to employ it, but I love the idea of bringing on the writer who’s going to follow the current one and have the transition be a little smoother so that the tone and voice of the book gets to change to suit the new, but isn’t just upended recklessly. Here’s to hoping more stuff like this!
Luke Ross’ linework has a lot to do with the amazing tone and pace, of course. His realistic character models give the whole thing a very spycrafty feel with some superhero flavoring rather than the other way around, and I’ve said it before, but I like my Secret Avengers covert. That may seem redundant, but it’s really not if you’re familiar with some of the past arcs (most of which I still wound up enjoying, just not in the same way). Matthew Wilson’s colors do a LOT of the heavy lifting in the art department as they vacillate back and forth between the mission in a darkened base with long, deep shadows and the overlit helicarrier where the negotiations take place. This was also the week that used a red tint with next-to-no dialog (only three words across two entire pages…) in a panel to symbolize extreme drama, usually of an action variety. These scenes, particularly the one at the end cutting back and forth between an absolutely wild shootout and a critical contract signing, juxtaposing the action against the significance with absolutely NO dialog is an amazing work of storytelling.
I’m going to take a slight leap of faith and assume that the writers know what they’re doing, because eagle-eyed (or would that be hawk-eyed in this case?) readers may note that I said the twists RARELY feel unearned. There’s one at the very end that could VERY easily go either way, but I’m putting my faith that the writers have a plan.
Even with the infodump at the beginning of the issue, this is a VERY unapproachable series for new readers, who should likely go back to the start of the arc if not the entire story, all of which is worth reading.
That is a mean, mean, MEAN cliffhanger to leave us on, guys. NOT COOL! But it’s only as good as it is because of how great this series has been, so I guess you’re okay and we’re all going out for ice cream. Between the minimalist writing and the fluidity of the action scenes, this book would already be an easy recommend, but the combination of wheeling and dealing and comic relief that M.O.D.O.K. provides is icing on an already delicious, nutritive cake.