One of the most interesting things about “Avengers: The Initiative” #34 is seeing how Jorge Molina depicts scenes already drawn by Olivier Coipel in “Siege” #3, including the stunning fall of Asgard. Now, obviously, matching the detailed, gorgeous art of Coipel is a tall order for any artist and Molina struggles a little bit, but does an able job, especially at keeping a coherent look to what Coipel established, an underrated quality that tends to get noticed only when an artist fails to do it.
Molina’s art is a little inconsistent throughout, straining a little under the demands of drawing so many different characters fighting in so many panels. The first half of the issue is devoted to what’s going on at the Initiative’s base, with the Hood’s gang and Justice’s group of heroes. The second half is devoted to the battle of Asgard. There’s a lot of fighting going on and panels looked crammed or have a rushed quality at times. But, there are also panels by Molina that are flat-out fantastic. He shows a strong aptitude for interesting-looking superhero fights, put on display in an expansion of the Captain America/Taskmaster scene from “Siege” #3.
His discussion of his art with Tim Callahan sheds some light on what he does in the David Yardin issue, using an animated style, but with more complex line work. His characters have a simple, bulky look to them. He’s good with dynamic poses, like in the opening pages, but there isn’t a chance for him to slow down in this issue really. It’s just page after page of fighting involving a half dozen or more characters, resulting in some questionable layouts and choices that cram in too many characters.
Christos Gage’s writing tries to add a deeper emotional level to the fights through narration by several characters, but they’re only brief glimpses into the heads of the characters. None heighten the emotion of the issue much as it never rises above the level of ‘lots of characters fighting.’ There are some clever pieces of dialogue or plotting in spots. The meeting of Justice and Penance is a well done scene, as is Taskmaster’s reaction to the two Captains America.
There’s a general sense of padding about the issue, that it’s there to simply show what happens between the panels of “Siege” #3 where the important, essential actions happen. This is the leftovers, at least in the second half. It doesn’t stand up against other tie-ins that manage to carve their own little corner of the story, showcasing something unique about the event. While the beginning of the issue does that, the second half is largely a repeat of “Siege” #3. It’s a decent, solid issue, but somewhat redundant placed so closely to the main “Siege” series when it clearly has more unique ideas and characters to focus on.