There’s a tiny bit of crying in this issue, but little of it sticks as the story quickly beats on to the falling action. Aside from Spector, Detective Hall and Snapdragon reappear, and for some reason Madame Masque is now involved. The matter of the Ultron head also veers its head into the scenario, and … Ah, whatever. Just read the comic.
– The first two pages of this issue are pretty strong, even though the first page is just a repeat of last issue’s finale. The inclusion of it here works though since, one, it’s a pretty cool page and, two, it reestablishes the stakes and places page two in context. As for page two, eight horizontal panels work well to convey a sense of carnage and mean spirit. The reds in place by Matt Hollingsworth bring out the pain, and Maleev’s choice of stacking the panels in such a way, with use of two vertically streaked, solid red shots, creates a clear idea of speed, moving the reader through the reading experience in a fast, bold, brutal fashion. In one page, Maleev translates the core of the fight we barely even see, and we understand it completely. Plus, this execution simply declares Echo as dead without any dramatic last word or final breath. She’s fucking dead, and Marc’s pissed. That’s all we need.
– The scene with Marlene at first concerned me. While reading, I was caught off guard, and I thought Bendis was all of the sudden bringing back past baggage. But really, it’s another dream/headtrip thing, and it’s in place to remind the reader of where Marc Spector’s been before and, not unlike Spider-man, the dude possesses some guilt. The scene works, feels appropriate and places the circumstance of Echo’s death into even more context. It also presents some indication of mourning from Marc’s character without getting too sappy or unnecessary. Also, the shot of Marc’s face in the last panel on page five presents a wonder example of Maleev’s talent for facial expressions and human likeness. Someone make that a Twitter avatar.
– “Wolverine” telling Marc to suck it up and quit moaning was cool. “Quit bitchin, bub!”
+/- Thoughts (neutral ground)
– The overhead shot of Echo’s body on the autopsy table is a shot that often reoccurs in Bendis’ work, conveniently placed lamps and all. In an early issue of New Avengers, it’s done with Spider-woman. Later in Secret Invasion, it’s Elektra’s skrullified corpse. I have to assume the writer indicates the artist to draw this particular shot in this situation, as this same shot has occurred with three different artists (that I know of). It’s no surprise that a comic book artist would have familiar, go-to shots, but I find the practice by a writer interesting. Could say a few things about Bendis’ scripting style.
– Detective Hall and Snapdragon … I guess I’m happy to see them again? I don’t know. No opinion.
– Madame Masque really comes off like a poor excuse to connect this dying series to Bendis’ larger catalog of work, and ultimately her appearance can only mean just that. It just seems a little late in the game to introduce a new villain to the story, and the reason for it is simply weak. Count Nefaria is hurt. OK, but isn’t that more interesting? Having this crumbling villain, who has lived most of his villainous career as a figure of power, go up against what is essentially a normal man? That scenario contains much more conflict and emotion than this substitute, tie-in shit we’re about to witness. Also, the whole thing voids the build-up of Nefaria as West Coast kingpin, making me wonder: why not Madame Masque from the start? Why wait until issue ten, of a twelve issue tale, to introduce her? Because, Bendis and Marvel need a story next summer. Plant those seeds now.
This issue doesn’t loose much steam. While a death has occurred, Bendis and Maleev keep the story on task and weave the plot together so it marches the complete narrative to its planned destination. Madame Masque though, man. WTF?