Last issue left on one of the most grim notes a comic book can possibly leave off on. We had at least three major character deaths and those that lived didn’t look like they’d continue doing that for much longer, and this issue picks right up where that one left off. To say things are not going well would be a titanic understatement, but the Unity Squad isn’t going to merely surrender, but Rick Remender makes it clear that determination alone isn’t going to be sufficient. Remender definitely knows a thing or two about incredible, crushing, oppressive odds, and I honestly have no idea how this is going to end. I mean I know to some extent, but I’m not sure about the whys and wherefores, and he does an amazing job of making every character, from Cap to Wasp to Wolverine interesting and well developed. We get some incredible inner monologues and character moments, though a lot of that is due to the art.
Steve McNiven is one of the go-to artists when you need widescreen, kinetic, intense action, and intensity is something this book does incredibly well. This book is off and running from page 1 and rarely stops moving for the rest of the issue, and McNiven’s incredibly detailed pencils are part of what retains that feeling of motion and desperation rather than becoming dulled to the action. John Dell, Dexter Vines and Jay Leisten deserve some of the credit as well, making sure all the lines are sharp and defined, rendering the character’s jaw-clenching emotional moments all the more real. Laura Martin’s colors are on a whole other level at this point, particularly dealing with the absolutely insane myriad of bizarre, sci-fi characters and settings.
There are one or two parts in this issue where people’s power is seemingly adjusted for plot reasons, most notably Sentry. I understand if Sentry’s abilities are somewhat lessened since returning from the grave, but the notion that this guy can run Thor ragged, but a massive sandworm from an alien world disposes of him, even temporarily, isn’t something I fully understand.
Maybe I’m spoiled, but between Nova and FF giving us Watchers that are, quite frankly, amazing in their characterizations and how they’re presented, it’s a little disappointing to see one back to spouting exposition. As long as he’s not a deus ex machina in the coming issues, it’s not a big deal.
This book is an incredibly intense experience and I enjoy the continuing notion of Captain America being reticent or even unable to give up the reins of leadership and the team doesn’t cohere as well as others, but that’s part of the appeal. These are people with wildly different views on the world and it makes sense that they wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on everything. We also get more absolutely gruesome visuals from the newly risen Sentry, which are gloriously gut-churning. I also love how a ton of these events are tied back to the very start of all these in ways both subtle and overt.