After last issue provided some much-needed exposition on the Cancerverse and its ruler, Lord Mar-Vell, this issue focuses on the action and advancing the plot, kicking off with a full assault on Mar-Vell’s ship by a group of six cosmic heroes. Despite the Cancerverse’s forces having the advantage thus far, these six characters combining for one coordinated attack is something that the invaders haven’t encountered before, creating a glimmer of hope for the first time in this story. Too bad that Thanos, the avatar of Death and one true hope of the Marvel universe, was killed by Drax last issue.
Abnett and Lanning don’t follow up on Thanos’ death right away, delaying that until later in the issue, building the tension as the six heroes begin to make headway against Mar-Vell and the twisted versions of Marvel characters. The action is hard-hitting and fierce, but DnA lighten things up with the most surprising of characters, the Silver Surfer. It’s not too often that the Surfer is the comedic relief, but his delivery of lines and confidence in battle is so funny that even the characters comment on his ‘deadpan trash talk.’ If these characters wind up making up the roster of a ‘Cosmic Avengers’ team, the first half of this issue shows that it would be a highly entertaining read.
Despite that headway, though, DnA don’t let the good times keep on rolling too long before things shift in favor of the Cancerverse, partly because of the fall-out of Thanos’ death and partly because Lord Mar-Vell is simply too powerful for the likes of Nova. That glimmer of hope is effective because it’s all but crushed immediately, leaving the good guys’ chances of surviving, forget winning, in serious doubt. The stakes are somehow raised again in this series, giving it a strong ebb and flow feeling throughout the issue.
Miguel Sepulveda has a dark, detailed style that gives characters distinct and strong looks, but also blends together at times. In some of the more complex or full panels, characters get muddled underneath shadows and intricate line work that doesn’t emphasize the characters enough. I’ve criticized Sepulveda for using a cut-and-paste effect that separates characters from their surroundings and, I know, that sounds like a contradiction, but he seems to shift between the two extremes. That balance of distinct characters that stand out while fitting into their surroundings is difficult, but he does look like he’s trying to find that balance.
One character that’s very effectively done, thanks in part to the coloring, is the Silver Surfer. He looks truly alien and formidable here. The use of grayish lines for his details makes him pop, while often looking integrated into his surroundings. Sepulveda is also very strong at energetic action sequences and communicating that sense of motion and energy.
This issue kicks things up a notch by raising the stakes and the heroes’ hopes. “The Thanos Imperative” continues to be an inventive and imagination series that is an example of how to do an event book right.