This week the hype train starts for Avengers Standoff with Welcome to Pleasant Hill, and the Heroes for Hire are back in Power Man and Iron Fist!
Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1 (Marvel Comics)
I’ll be honest. I was planning on skipping the upcoming “Avengers: Standoff” event. Call it being uninterested, not thinking that this was a “major event”, or plain old event fatigue, there just wasn’t anything that I thought was appealing about Nick Spencer’s upcoming crossover storyline.
But then I read this.
Serving as a prologue for the upcoming event, Nick Spencer and Mark Bagley’s Welcome to Pleasant Hill is a great introduction to just what the hell Pleasant Hill is, and why The Avengers will be interested in it. There’s definitely a strange Stepford Wives vibe to the whole place, and Nick Spencer’s script does a great job of setting up the sense of unease for Pleasant Hill’s newest resident, “Jim”. There’s also a fantastic misdirect that totally caught me off guard. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that Spencer definitely surprised me with the last page reveal, and if you can, you should definitely fight the urge to flip to the last page when you see this on the rack.
Mark Bagley isn’t handling the pencils for this event (which will be playing out in series like Sam Wilson: Captain America, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , and various other Avenger themed titles), but this issue makes me wish that he was. There are some panels where characters look a little strange (or ripped from Ultimate Spider-Man), but for the most part this is a very solid issue for Bagley. For a guy who’s been penciling comics since the early 90’s, Bagley’s style hasn’t aged a day.
If you’re curious about the upcoming Standoff event, you should absolutely pick this up. Spencer and Bagley set the stakes up perfectly, and it looks like this should be a fun, but small, adventure for the heroes of the current Marvel Universe. At the very least, it looks like Standoff will be completely different from other recent Marvel events, which is a plus.
Power Man and Iron Fist #1 (Marvel Comics)
With both members of the Heroes for Hire coming to Netflix (well, one’s technically already there), it’s high time for Marvel to bring Luke Cage, AKA Power Man, and Iron Fist back together in a new series. Under the care of writer David Walker and artist Sanford Greene, the new Power Man and Iron Fist series has a couple of faults, but if it can pull it together it could be something great.
After leaving behind their old “Heroes for Hire” business to become Avengers and, in Luke’s case, a family man, the two former partners join up again to pick up their old receptionist, who’s finally being released from jail after being cleared of a crime she didn’t commit. David Walker has a lot of fun teasing at the past history that these two characters share, but at the same time it’s not beholden to anything that came before it. It’s pretty easy to pick up this comic with no knowledge of the duo’s history and be completely fine reading it. Walker’s characterizations of both Luke Cage and Danny Rand are pretty good, but he stumbles with his handling of Jessica Jones, who appears in a few brief scenes where she’s essentially just being a mom. Sure, Jones settling down with Luke and raising a child is a part of her evolution as a character, but in this book she doesn’t seem to have the same charm that we’re used to.
Also stumbling is the art by Sanford Greene, whose cartoony style tends to work against the script. Now, not all of Greene’s pencils are bad, and he actually starts out the book pretty well. But by the time our main antagonist for the issue is introduced, Power Man and Iron Fist starts to look like a superhero impressionist painting. It would’ve been fine in a book like say, Doctor Strange, where the art can be a little looser and freer, but for a title starring two street level heroes it’s not the best fit.
Despite my feelings on the art, I do think that Power Man and Iron Fist is a good start for new readers looking to see what the big deal is behind these two characters. I may not be the biggest fan of Sanford Greene’s art in this issue, but it’s not completely terrible, just a bad fit for this type of book. With a little work, Power Man and Iron Fist could be a book to watch.