This has been quite the meandering story since the relaunch. Jonathan Hickman clearly has a greater plan in mind, and parts of the book are done quite well, but I’m just not in love with the book.
Last month we saw our first Star Brand & Night Mask vs. the Avengers battle. There is a follow-up in this issue too, but that isn’t the high point of the issue. This battle has a lot more splash pages and “snapshots” rather than a combat narrative. That keeps it from getting as exciting as it could be. I think the intent is to put the focus on Night Mask’s narrative rather than the fisticuffs, and I’ve made my feelings clear about that in the past. Again, I like the use of Star Brand as a reluctant powerhouse, and seeing the main Avengers try to deal with him with some respect is a strong moment.
My favorite part of the issue involves Ex Nihilo, Abyss, and the New Universe characters on Mars. The book opens with Ex Nihilo explaining some of his greater plans for the Earth. Now, once again, there is a lot of talk about broken tools and cosmic manipulation that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at least his dialogue gives a clear villain. This guy has a master plan that he’s working towards, and even if no one but Hickman exactly understands it, at least we have someone to root against.
The legion-approach to the team is entertaining, and I still like that graphic that opens each issue, but man, some of the team members are getting lost in the shuffle. There are just too many people on this team. I’d say this book stars Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Thor, with everyone else relegated to backup status or less. Cannonball, Sunspot, and Spider-Man are barely even there. As I stated before, I still don’t even understand what Captain Universe is doing there.
The art is pretty nice, with Star Brand in particular sticking out. He’s obviously a scrawny nerd blessed with incredible power. His posture and look reinforce the dialogue, he’s clearly quick to anger and somewhat volatile, but he definitely has a conscience. Dustin Weaver’s work on the big names is really impressive. His handle on Iron Man’s black and gold armor is great, I hope it is sticking around and not being replaced by the sunburst/Guardians armor. As I said before, Weaver is one of the few who seems to excel drawing the current Captain Marvel suit.