Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: John Romita Jr. (p) Klaus Janson (i),
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: The “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” storyline is coming close to its inevitable conclusion. In part 5, Wolverine continues to hunt down a group of mutant enemies which previously brainwashed him into attacking his friends and teammates. After taking down the “Dawn of the White Light” with reprogrammed Sentinels, Logan eliminates the Hand’s secret city leaving only Hydra and their new supreme leader, the Gorgon, standing in his way. The book opens with a therapy session conducted by Emma Frost for some of Wolverine’s X-Men teammates, and this is followed by a peek into a secret outpost where Wolverine is preparing for his upcoming assault. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s doctors tell Wolverine that Northstar is not responding quickly to their treatments. They then recruit a number of dangerous criminals (including Tombstone) with the promise of reduced jail time to help Wolverine and Elektra with a preemptive strike on the new Hydra. They take the fight to the Gorgon while packing some serious techno heat provided by S.H.I.E.L.D. During the melee, Elektra loses her “psi blocks,” and the Gorgon is able to probe her mind for an important piece of strategic information.
Comments: There’s a lot to like here story wise which is augmented superbly by the book’s artwork. No matter how long I look at it, I can never get over John Romita Jr.’s pencils. He has a beautiful, distinctive blocky style which is unmistakable and a sheer joy to behold on a monthly basis. Even though this issue does suffer greatly from “big panel” syndrome, (I counted no less than 4 half-splash pages and 2 splash pages) it’s a little hard to complain when Romita Jr.’s art and Klaus Janson’s inks weave so perfectly into such gorgeous full and half page splashes. Yet, why can’t Marvel reduce the number of full page splashes thereby giving the reader more bang for their proverbial buck?
As for Millar, I like the fact he lets us see the X-men doing some soul searching at the beginning of the issue and taking emotional inventory after Wolverine shred them to pieces a few issues back. Too often writers race from plot to plot while failing to interject quiet moments for fans to catch their breath. Millar doesn’t make that mistake here. It was nice to see how everyone is coping with Northstar’s death at Emma Frost’s psychic therapy group. The rest of the issue follows in the tradition already established by the previous arc with a lot of violence and carving up of body parts with some S.H.I.E.L.D. techno-babble thrown in for good measure. I am impressed by Millar’s ability to throw in key moments of introspection like Wolverine in the shower musing about special forces training (something he would definitely know about by spending time in Nick Fury’s operation and harking back to Weapon-X) and the aforementioned therapy session with Emma Frost. These moments helped slow down the pace in between all the slashing and dicing of Hydra’s henchmen and allowed us to see what the characters were feeling.
Final Word: Another entertaining effort from the team of Millar, Janson and Romita Jr. Even though the final skirmish between Logan and the Gorgon has been delayed until the concluding chapter, it should be a satisfying climax to a fun and well crafted battle heavy story arc.
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