With Wanda struggling to breath and the Unity squad under the crushing powers of Graviton, will our team’s savior come in the guise of an unassuming accountant? No, that’s…what? No, man.
After last month’s issue brought about the return of Graviton, the treasurer of the OP Bearded Bad Guys Who Look Like Magicians Club (of which Count Nefaria is the President), the Unity Squad is in dire straits. Wanda was rocketed into the stratosphere while the rest of the team was pinned under the the same kind of centrifugal force that lets you go upside down at the carnival. Graviton does the standard villainous posturing until Rogue is able to get close enough to kiss him and sap his powers. Unfortunately it appears that is was those abilities that had driven the Canadian Jason Momoa crazy in the first place, meaning Rogue is soon overtaken by the level of power she has now absorbed. Fortunately, Synapse is there to set her straight and send us home happy. Oh, and there’s some lawyer dude who wants to talk to Johnny about the legacy of the Fantastic Four.
In all, this is a fairly tight issue. The story moves swiftly, everyone’s characterizations are pretty on point (even the ones I don’t like) and the action sequences proceed in a mostly logical manner that makes for a smooth read. The issue I have with this book is that it feels entirely inconsequential. Yeah, Graviton is an insanely powered super villain, and basically launched the Scarlet Witch into orbit at the end of last issue, but he never feels like a real threat. Yeah he talks a big, meandering game, but his menace is really undercut when he gets one-shotted by a kiss. I suppose that’s standard operating procedure for Rogue, but it is a touch deflating. Speaking of deflating, the ending of this issue is particularly weak. What, exactly are we supposed to feel about Johnny being approached by the lawyer? Are we meant to infer that there’s something nefarious waiting in the wings? Is there some crippling financial liability that comes with being the owner of the name Fantastic Four? Is this just a way to have the Unity Squad operate out of the Baxter building moving forward? Why do Wasp, Pietro and Rogue look unnerved by this?
There are some character elements I’m not as big a fan of in this issue as well. Jericho and Wanda continue their flirting, which is mostly fine with me – he did save her life after all, and if I learned anything from ’90s action movies, someone saving your life makes you want to bone that person. Instead my issue is with Rogue and how she takes down Graviton with a kiss. Now I know this is a trope with the character, so much so it even became a part of the character’s offense in the Marvel Vs. Capcom games, but I feel like Anna Marie as a character has moved past this kind of offense. She’s had several relationships of varying duration and emotional meaning at this point and is very much past her labeling as “forbidden fruit,” so it feels somewhat regressive for her to make out with the villain to take him out of the fight. There’s an argument that kissing would make some sense when she’s in full costume (as most of her skin is covered), but she was in tattered pajamas at this point and under crushing gravitational forces. Wouldn’t it be easier for her to just get a hand on his face?
Artwise, this is a good-not-great outing for Sean Izaakse. His character models are great, and I can really appreciate his consistency. If you remember in the last issue Rogue was accidentally burned by Torch, and throughout the whole issue the marks of that damage can be seen in every panel shes in. The same rip pattern, even some burns on her skin. I really appreciate the continuity of that kind of detail, as it’s something a lot of artists just move past without giving a second thought. More troubling, however, is the sequences using Graviton’s powers. I know it’s difficult to portray shifts in the gravitational field given that it is, you know, an invisible force, but there has to be a way to visually represent the struggle of someone like Rogue trying to stand against this force. Maybe tighter shots with more anime-style speed lines? I don’t know, but the sequence where Rogue inches toward Graviton loses a lot of the drama because it’s effectively just Anna Marie standing still. To his credit, Izaakse makes the effort when Rogue is overcome by Graviton’s insanity and he removes all features from non-Rogue characters to highlight the alienation one (evidently) feels with that kind of power. Though once Rogue’s powers start to flair out of control, it’s right back to the muted and understated representation of what is supposed to be an overwhelming and irresistible force.
It looks like next month’s outing will see everyone (over 40)’s favorite Avengers bromance, Beast and Wonder Man. Can Jim Zub craft a fittingly light-hearted romp featuring two Avengers whose characters have been thoroughly assassinated in the past few years that no one seems to like them anymore? (I mean young Beast is okay.) Tune in to find out.