I’m not sure when I developed a man-crush on Jim Cheung -- or, rather, on his art -- but it’s there. The fact that he’s drawing a dozen or so Marvel mainstays in one book helps pique my interest, of course. Cheung has drawn covers here and there, offering his fans a glimpse into his interpretation of various Marvel characters over the past few years, but we’ve all been waiting. We’ve been biding our time. Cheung rewards his fans with a visually stunning issue, and the $3.99 price point doesn’t sting so badly. Ponsor’s color work perfectly complements Cheung’s art, making it loud and bold. This is a humanistic tale that happens to be occurring in a universe filled with brightly colored heroes and villains. The end result is a stunning visual that carries the story all by itself.
This book is enhanced a little further by Allan Heinberg’s script. Heinberg could have written the characters off kilter and that wouldn’t have bothered me so much as my comic reading mind would have completed the gestalt based on the drawings on page. Heinberg doesn’t write the characters off kilter, though. He delivers an emotionally wrung out Magneto, desperate to atone for the sins wrought against his family. Heinberg also gives us a swath of hormonally hopped-up teens seeking to find their own destinies, but to do so together.
More interestingly, Heinberg delivers a pair of surprises in this issue. Both of those surprises are pleasant to the reader – one is outright shocking, but logical – while the other is a nice bit of inclusion that I hoped for, but didn’t expect.
Heinberg does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed on the events that led us to this point while setting up some hints as to what threads will be picked up in this tale.
I was avoiding this book, choosing to wait for the trade, but the preview here at CBR convinced me to take an extra peek inside. I’m glad I took that peek. This is an exciting story that crosses a lot of bridges in the Marvel Universe in a grandiose way. It’s a personal tale, like the classic X-Men stories of yesteryear, that plays on the widescreen stage so masterfully occupied by the Avengers. The Avengers are reacting to perceived threats and are therefore not acting rationally. Those threats, however, have the Avengers scared, which is always a big deal.
By the time this story is complete, a year-and-a-half will have passed in the real world. That makes the wait between issues – or the wait for a collected edition – almost unbearable. The payoff, however, is a great story with high stakes made all the better by Cheung’s fantastic art. Quite simply, it’s a story worth waiting for.