I was pleased to read a Joe Casey comic that has very little to do with publicists and PR and really just dealt with straight up villainy. The new Zodiac reveals himself at the end of the issue, but other than being young, nothing about him really struck me. The new Zodiac is building up an network of villains who want to remain just villains and don't want to buy into Norman Osborn's "respectability." The group includes Manslaughter Marsdale and Death Reaper, the latter claims to be Nekra's daughter, but I didn't recognize either of them. Whirlwind and Casey-favorite the Clown make up the rest of the team. I'm sure Casey was happy to use the Clown again (he was a supporting character Casey's old Deathlok book years ago). Zodiac is on a rampage, slaughtering HAMMER agents and generally causing problems. He eventually confronts the Human Torch and handles him pretty easily, mixing insults and prepared weaponry very effectively to take out the hero. Casey spends a bit of time with some HAMMER agents too, and I find myself always enjoying that aspect of Dark Reign. The folks who stuck around after the fall of SHIELD are an interesting bunch and I look forward to seeing more of them.
Nathan Fox's art is not classic-Marvel by any means, but he totally works on this book. The heavy inks and expressive faces work in this visceral story and he does a better job on the super-heroic aspect than I expected. He's got a Tommy Lee Edwards/John Paul Leon style to him that I really like (which is part of the reason I commissioned a Moon Knight sketch from Fox last summer at Wizardworld Chicago).
This looks well-put together, and I'm hoping this will be collected with Frank Tieri's DR: Lethal Legion book so I can get all this villainy in one trade.