There's an effortlessness in "The Enemy Within," the small crossover story bouncing between Kelly Sue DeConnick's "Avengers Assemble" and "Captain Marvel" -- something more comics should be able to manage. "Avengers Assemble" #17 with art by Matteo Buffagni and Pepe Larraz with colors by Nolan Woodard, is no exception as it drives readers relentlessly toward a conclusion in next month's "Captain Marvel."
DeConnick never gets lost despite a large cast full of big personalities. She has no trouble balancing an entire crew of Avengers in short field scenes (including Hulk, Spider-Woman, Falcon, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Wasp, Sersi, Wolverine, and Thor) and cuts effortlessly between the field teams and the home bases of both Captain America and Abigail Brand from The Peak and Carol's own personal team operating from her apartment (with some serious Tony Stark upgrades). The result is a fast moving, lean machine of a story -- exactly what's needed for the penultimate issue of a five-issue arc.
Buffagni and Larraz with Woodard on colors are a great team, and they pull together a sharp clean issue -- heavy on action and clear in its storytelling. The colors are crisp and well fitting for such a big superhero story. Beyond one very odd moment where Abigail Brand and Captain America are upside down for half a page, the visuals are top notch. The action is especially strong and really helps DeConnick in managing such a large cast by packing compelling fighting scenes into such short powerful bursts. However, the team also excels in bringing to life the personality of the characters in those short scenes as written by DeConnick with fantastic expression and body language, particularly with Wolverine and Carol.
In fact, the twist at the end of this issue (totally given away in the title of the story but done expertly with a "hide something in plain sight" technique) is a great moment, but it's thanks to Buffagni and Larraz that it has the significant impact readers need. Carol's face in that reveal, and the subsequent panels are perfect, and it's rightly a horrifying revelation. Deliciously, it's also one of those moments readers will kick themselves for not figuring out sooner, as it makes perfect sense.
This crossover between "Captain Marvel" and "Avengers Assemble" has been deceptively satisfying. It has never shied away from letting it be Carol's very personal story and one in which she never loses agency. However, it has also nicely melded with the larger world and heroes that populate Carol's life. Crossovers can be the death knell for a lot of fans, but this one was well chosen. Given DeConnick's writing of both titles and the natural character overlap, fans should give both "Captain Marvel" and "Avengers Assemble" a chance when the story ends. These are both solid superhero books delivering consistent and compelling stories.