“Five: Truth and Consequences”
Writers: Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Tom Grummet and Gary Erskine
The already uber-powerful Moonstone has taken over Zemo’s energy-harvesting machine, but is she off her rocker as she takes on two of Marvel’s most powerful superteams alone?
This issue is one long fight-scene, but what a battle it is! We begin with a totally non-exploitative splash, as the two orbs emanating power from Karla’s torso are not her breasts, but instead the double-dose of moonstones that give her her name.
That she has two now is leftover continuity from the Thunderbolts series, and in fact this entire series is a gift to fans of that run (created by Busiek and carried on with style by Nicieza), to those who miss Busiek’s Avengers, and of the convoluted history that makes the Marvel universe what it is. The ongoing contrast between the Avengers (which has long-included reformed villains in its roster) and the T-bolts (who began as villains – in fact, the Avengers worst nemeses – only pretending to be good, but ultimately started to live up to their heroic personas) is played out on a character-by-character basis in this issue. Time is given for each player to come to a decision about what they’re doing, and why, as all must react to a Karla driven mad with power.
Seeing the manipulative Moonstone out of control is unusual, as she’s usually the one pushing everyone else’s buttons. Grummet expertly captures her dilemma by having her previous costumes flicker into view during the battle (all of them, btw, better than her current one), while friend and foe must draw the line against her threat. Will Dallas, Atlas and Mimi make the right decisions? Is Cap being reckless? Is Zemo lying? Has Hawkeye given up hope?
This is also an issue of reversals. At the very least one senses an impending power-down for Karla, while Zemo’s new body is damaged, Plant-Man is stripped of his recent pretensions, and Mimi purposefully heads toward her predicted future. Busiek and Nicieza are even careful to include the incarcerated Abe, a nod to all the principal players in this status-changing story.
Grummet and Erskine have a clean style that recalls the lamented Power Company, while the departed Kitson still supplies the covers. The final silhouette of Hawkeye with an arrow poised is an excellent example of their skill. Unlike a recent silhouette I complained about by Bart Sears that muted a powerful moment, this one captures the mystery and ambiguous nature of Clint’s decision, underlining an already powerful cliffhanger.
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