In this instalment of Marvel’s first big event book of the year we check in with another pair of heroes in the ruins of the post-Ultron Marvel Universe, as well as a glimpse of how things got the way they are. The problem is… that’s kind of all that happens in the issue. It continues the pattern set out in the first issue of low panel count and slow plotting. I don’t mind a slower pace, but this is almost glacial.
Bryan Hitch’s art is once again technically impressive when he is rendering technology and structure, but falls short when he has to draw actual people. Well, actually, that’s a little harsh. Hitch is a fine artist, but I find his people lack a certain spark, as he’s become increasingly photo referenced over time. The problem here is one that crops up a lot with artists who use a lot of photo reference, and it’s (oddly) the issue of inconsistency. When Hitch has used one face for a character he doesn’t always maintain consistency, even within the same page. I felt this particularly on the pages with Moon Knight and Black Widow, but less so on the pages with Spider-Man, so it’s not a huge issue.
It’s really difficult to justify and explain a lot of the things I don’t like about Hitch’s art. The fact that it takes so long to come out is a definite negative, but it’s unfair to judge the book because of that. I think some artists’ work I just can’t get into, and Hitch, despite his technical virtuosity and relative visual fidelity, is one of those artists.
I’m usually a fan of Bendis’ writing: I loved his run on the Avengers, I love Ultimate Spider-Man, I really like what he’s doing with the X-Men, and Alias is one of my favourite books of all time. However, his tendency towards decompressed storytelling mixed with Hitch’s propensity for widescreen vistas grind the place of this book to a slow crawl. I really do like a lot of what’s going on here. The main problem I have, unfortunately, is that there’s just not enough of it.
I know it’s generally accepted in comic book fandom that events are bad, and it’s the done thing to decry them at every available opportunity, but I’m really not trying to do that here. I really want to like this book. I love the concept, I love the characters, and Bendis is one of my favourite writers, but something about but this book just isn’t coming together for me yet.