It's interesting to me that Marvel would hit the stands with every single major comic storyline they have going on this week, from "Siege," to "Fall of the Hulks," to "Doomwar," to "Realm of Kings." Perhaps they're just trying to hit a captive audience -- in for a penny, in for a pound. Unfortunately, there's a lot of good stuff on the shelves this week from Marvel and their distinguished competition. Not only that, but there's some green beer to compete against too. That extra pint might cause you to miss a gem worthy of excavation from a vibranium mine in Wakanda.
This comic offers a tense story to be sure, but something just seems amateurish to me when the first image I see of Doctor Doom has him holding a handgun at the head of T'Challa's mother as Storm is forced into inaction. Isn't Doom above such base weaponry? Moreso than that, isn't Storm one of the world's most powerful mutants?
With Storm effectively rendered as a non-entity in this issue, the story is essentially the Dora Milaje, the Black Panthers (T'Challa and Shuri), Wolverine, Colossus and Nightcrawler against the army and navy of Wakanda, who are backed by Doom's forces. Only in fiction would that few stand a chance against such numerous foes.
Eaton's artwork is exponentially better matched to this story than the art on the covers by Romita, Jr. This is a tale of war, and the grit, grime, sweat, and blood are well drawn by Eaton and his inking compatriots. Similarly, Beaulieu strikes glaring colors from his palette, washing this story in muted tones of shadows and subterfuge. It's a good looking book for the story being told, but it does have some hiccups of its own. On the first page, as Nightcrawler stands aghast at the death he is witness to, T'Challa's expression seems more mad -- as in crazy -- than mad about the traitors in his country during this issue's opening scene where it is revealed that Shuri (the Black Panther and T'Challa's sister) has killed the entire council of traitors. Nightcrawler's shock at the actions of the new Black Panther carry throughout the issue, but comes across as weak, given that this is a war, and the "good guys" are outnumbered to the point where they may have lost the luxury of being "nice."
The political undertones of this story -- Doom fueling a civil war within Wakanda to distract from his true goal -- is well devised, but ultimately falls short of its potential. This isn't the shiniest gem to come out from Marvel this week, but it's also not the dullest. This is a slightly above average story with aspirations of being great. With four issues left in this series, there's a great deal of story left to be told and things are ramping up, if somewhat unevenly. Maybe it will be great, but for now, Marvel's offering some stiff competition against themselves.