Rick Remender’s pacing hasn’t been exactly my cup of tea, but I can’t fault his plot. The idea of the most evil man in the Marvel U getting the power of Professor X? That’s a wonderful, horrifying idea. I definitely got a Fear Itself vibe in the crowd scenes, where the Avengers are trying to save random folks from angry mobs, but Remender keeps the comparison from getting to close with a couple important changes.
The big change is that Professor X’s powers are so potent that Rogue, Scarlet Witch, and more all succumb to his effects. Heck Captain America spends most of the issue spewing venom at Havok; talk about out of character. John Cassady does a great job conveying Havok’s shock, then determination in the face of Cap’s verbal abuse.
Remender and Cassady spend a lot of time introducing the S-Men, the Skull’s new Nazi henchmen. I don’t’ think they’d all been name-checked yet, so it is neat seeing abbreviated origins and high spots as each member uses their powers. I believe this is a change to an omniscient narrator, a device not present last issue, but there is not a lot of choice; Remender has to get a lot of info out to the reader quickly.
The S-Men wouldn’t work as well as they do if they were ineffective, but Thor can’t even fight off the influence of Honest John, the Living Propaganda. Sure, Cap has a better chance to make his Will save (RPG joke!), but Thor? Not so much.
I continue to be awed by Cassaday’s art. Flipping through, almost every page has one dynamic image to pop the page, with most of the story playing out in the other panels. This guy’s original art must sell for a TON. Every page has something great!