Brian Bendis does his usual amazing work with the characters in this book, making them equal parts witty and sympathetic, no matter which side they’re on. We get to see the Cuckoos pierce the veil of Maria Hill’s mind and what they uncover is partially expected, but there’s definitely another part that, if we’re to believe it, is an amazingly excellent development and I’m glad we’ve got a front row seat to it. Meanwhile, someone discovers the source of the sweet, sweet MGH on Madripoor, but Mystique knows they know and things definitely get a little bit weirder than they already are...and that’s WITH a hostage taken.
Chris Bachalo’s pencils are, as always, beautifully detailed and amazingly rendered, each character looking distinct and different from one another. The facial features as well are lovingly rendered, giving the book a great emotional core. The Legion of Consistently Toned Inkers returns with Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jon Holdredge, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba and Al Vey giving definition and detail to Bachalo’s pencils while Bachalo himself handles the colors that make the characters pop and gives some of the best imagery in comics.
This is another holding pattern issue and we’ve had quite a few of those over the last few. It’s taken Cyclops THIS long to simply have the Cuckoos probe Hill’s mind to see if she’s behind the Sentinel attacks (I could swear they couldn’t do it because of her psychic defenses before, but I may be misremembering), and while parts of what they find are great, they themselves admit that, as a highly trained agent, she could be faking everything they’re reading...so why are they doing it in the first place? It almost seems like a waste of time at this point. The whole Dazzler sub-plot is veering into some very strange territory and I truly can’t see where it’s going other than to show people that, yes, that is STILL Mystique, but we just had a jumping-on issue, so I hope it’s not going to be a regular thing that we’re reminded that Agent Dazzler isn’t really Agent Dazzler. We’re also reminded that Hijack is still not only in play, but still under S.H.I.E.L.D. surveilance and...this is seemingly treated as a major plot development/twist.
The art is fantastic on a character level, but a lot of backgrounds on this issue fall flat and lack detail. There’s a whole lot of negative space this time around.
This is a fine issue in a strong title, and I’m not ready to throw in the towel by a LONG shot (19 great issues VS 1 “merely” good one isn’t so bad). The characters are still fascinating and the art is still, mostly, amazing, but the plot itself needs a shot in the arm that I’m hoping next issue will bring. This is a lot of setup, and I'm normally okay with that, but it feels like it comes after a great deal MORE setup, and it feels time to deliver. This is a piece of the puzzle, but it’s a minor one.