This book has been coming out rather frequently lately. This is already the fourth Fear Itself crossover of the summer. While it's great that Gage keeps churning out the scripts (and they've got a good stable of stylistically compatible artists in Sean Chen, Tom Raney and Andrea Di Vito to rotate around), the story might just be getting stretched a wee bit thin.
I've been Team Gage since he was at Wildstorm, and he's really come onto his own with the high concept of this title, surely the best thing to come out of the whole Dark Reign/Initiative brouhaha. Partly due to Mike McKone's initial presence, surely, this title has felt like the Marvel take on what the Teen Titans could be, in a way entirely different from the ostensibly similar Young Avengers (legacy-invested teens) and Runaways (criminally apologist teens).
Here we have a crew of Osborn abuse victims, who may or may not become potential villains, but really who all were dealt pretty raw deals by their powers, abilities that Osborn wanted to exploit. The Avengers, instead, want to re-train, and it fits in well with Pym's generally pacifist approach to conflict that he and Tigra are the trainers.
The horrors of Fear Itself have drawn the adults away, however, and stranded the kids in the Infinite Mansion with no way out (not exactly a problem of logic until you start thinking about it I suppose) with dark avatars of the Serpent breathing down their necks. That was a brilliantly evil moment on Gage's part, when he had Titania and the Absorbing Man (hammered up as Skirn and Greithoth) specifically target Pym's students as a form of payback for being stranded by Pym. Last issue was their creepy first attack on the vulnerable teens.
This issue is the chance for the teens to regroup (as best they can) and come up with some plan of defense. Again, a stroke of genius from Gage about his charges, as he has Striker self-identify (including Hazmat and Finesse) as one of the three most likely future uber-villains and challenges them to come up with plans just as nasty as their foes.
That nifty idea would probably have worked against regular old Titania and her beau, even given that they're pretty much powerhouses without divine enhancement. But just how enhanced they are is something Veil sees as she attempts to possess Skirn (why didn't Kitty Pryde or Phantom Girl ever think of that one?) and gets quite a shock.
Di Vito does a good job with the swaggering, over-confident neo-deities, and is an able artist as far as anatomy and facial expressions. But backgrounds and details are pretty minimal, indicating this may have been a rush-job. The story over the summer might have benefited from fitting more into fewer issues, but even a slight drop-off in quality doesn't reduce what Gage has set up here: he's adept at taking standard formulas and twisting them just enough to stay interesting.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.
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