As “Children’s Crusade” approaches its halfway point, the ad hoc team of Maximoff-Lensherrs, young, old, in-laws, and exes finally catch up with the object of their interest, The Scarlet Witch. But, as you might expect, not all is as they had hoped.
In this issue, Wiccan takes up most of the spotlight as he arrives at Castle Doom ahead of his fellow “crusaders.” It’s been clear from the start that Heinberg intended Wiccan to play a large role in this series, and seeing those plans come to fruition makes for exciting times, as a reader. The stakes are high, and Wiccan, himself, gets a couple of major developments in this issue that are certain to have significant influence on the story. Together with a note-perfect rendition of characters like Wolverine and Dr. Doom, there’s no doubting that Heinberg’s grasp of characterization -- both for characters he created, and the Marvel mainstays -- is dead on.
Given the ending of issue #3, it’s no spoiler to say that now that the Scarlet Witch does finally appear in this issue. Though, as with any mystery, the answer of where she was and what she was doing begs more questions than it answers. Then, just as we’re getting to the final stages of the issue, Heinberg throws yet another curveball. There’s something masterful about the way he carefully handles reader expectations for an entire issue, just to shatter them at the end.
As if the writing wasn’t enough of a master class, Jim Cheung’s artwork is, too. It’s almost impossible to find fault with it. From small, emotional beats to big plot-twisting splash pages, every image you see feels like it tells a story on its own. From body language to landscapes, Cheung makes each one look effortlessly perfect.
If you wanted to find something to complain about, you could argue that the continuity of the book is a little hard to fathom. With Steve Rogers as Captain America, Magneto running around away from the X-Men, and Doom ruling Latveria, it could confuse people looking to slot the book into the current Marvel timeline. Then again, it reflects the typical status quo of those characters, and the story it’s telling is a timeless one with an emotional core. If the book keeps up this level of quality, “Children’s Crusade” will be as readable in ten years as it is now, and any remaining continuity glitches will be utterly forgotten. (That said, can Quicksilver actually vibrate through things with his super-speed, as Heinberg suggests in this issue?)
The only thing one can reasonably hold against “Children’s Crusade?” The schedule. When superhero comics are this brilliant, this page-turningly compelling, the fact that we’re being asked to wait two months for each issue borders on actual cruelty. Roll on, March.