Editor's Note: Agents of Atlas #8 arrives in stores tomorrow, July 15.
Jeff Parker is definitely the writer to surpass at Marvel right now; he's really firing on all cylinders with this series, and now that he's finished with the obligatory "Dark Reign" tie-ins (for now), he's free to explore the interesting fringes of the shared universe in which his wacky team resides. Well, maybe not just the fringes; this issue sees an appearance by the Hulk, along with more of the usual internal politics of the Atlas Foundation, the evil empire that the team is trying to subvert from within.
The plot here sees the team forced to shut down one of their mad science branches, who have been kidnapping drifters and hitchhikers and turning them into mutants. That's never a good idea in the Marvel universe, since one of those vagrants will almost certainly have a hidden large green side. And sure enough, the team ends up having to fight both a rampaging Hulk and a horde of nasty monsters, making for an entertaining brawl. Parker can write a good fight scene, and this is no exception, as each member of the team, from Gorilla Man, to Namora, to Venus, and even the Mandarin's son Temugin, try to face the Hulk without making much headway. It seems like all fights in this series end up with Venus singing and calming everyone down with mind control, but Parker finds an interesting way around that here, showing that he's not going to rely on the same tricks every month.
And on the art, semi-regular penciller Carlo Pagulayan returns, and his work looks really nice here, capturing the intensity of the battle, the dustiness of the Nevada desert, and the grossness of the mutant freaks, who really seem like disgusting, inhuman monsters. Jana Schirmer's coloring has been a point of annoyance over the course of the series, often slathering obnoxious hues over the top of the linework, but she seems to have gotten things under control here, perhaps after working with Gabriel Hardman the last few months. She gives the art a gritty feel, making everything seem a little bit dirty. With the art team starting to gel, the visual side of the series is finally starting to match the writing.
And Parker isn't resting on his laurels; he's got a subplot going here involving Jimmy Woo and his former love Suwan (who has taken over half of his empire and doesn't seem receptive to his attempts at communication) that looks to expand into another full-fledged arc full of drama, action, and cool ideas. Judging by the success of the series so far, it should be tons of fun to read; this is almost certainly the best superhero book Marvel is currently publishing.
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