Hey y’all, I took a break from the MMA and its mission statement of spreading love for comics in hopes of keeping them alive because… well, Marvel was cancelling everything I love. This does not mean I have nothing to say about some stellar comics in their final issues, so let’s hop right back into things. When last we left Clint Barton’s team of rag-tag Avengers, they had just started coming together. There is still a vacancy to fill though.
Occupy Avengers 5-7: When Shit Hits The Fan
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Gabriel H. Walta
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
C.Artists: Paulo Siqueira & Rachelle Rosenberg
Recap: Declan Shalvey & Joride Bellaire
Editors: Tom Brevoort & Darren Shan & Alanna Smith
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Just because I’m stuck sitting, doesn’t mean I can’t take a stand: The first arc of Occupy Avengers was a politically charged adventure that brought two unlikely allies together on a mission to rediscover themselves. The second arc served as more of a clean up for the cancelled Nighthawk series, recruiting a character that writer, David F. Walker has a fondness for. Thankfully, this third arc returns to the politically charged status of the series, focusing on Skrull immigrants seeking political asylum from their empire, simply for desiring to live a peaceful life. This arc is about the extents people will go to fight for what they believe in, including our new team recruit, Wheels Wolinski, a paraplegic who has to overcome his own mindset before he can overcome his disability. He has an unexpected ally in a sentient van (nicknamed Vantastic by Hawkeye) that is a mixture of the TARDIS and Voltron. This story does a great job of showing us the perspectives of each team member, as well as several members of the Skrull asylum seekers. Our first issue is narrated by a particularly aggressive member of the Skrull community, but it allows us to jump into the heart of the conflict early on and compare the rest of the community against him. While two sides of this three sided conflict are well defined, the villains suffer in comparison; all we really learn is they are religious zealots from the Skrull empire. Walker does a good job of creating chaos, because even though we are kept in the know on all sides of the conflict, no-one at any point fully knows what is going on and we hear false accusations passed around between characters to deceive us. It is tricky to keep the audience in the know and also be able to deceive them, but Walker pulls it off. Walker is also able to create stakes even if our heroes never feel too at risk. The first issue introduces a target, Iris the waiter, someone to be saved by our heroes, and yet the first issue ends with her death, with several others killed on the way. As the stakes rise for the Skrulls, tension rises for our heroes.
This series exists in the shadow of Clint Barton’s execution of Bruce Banner and because of this it focuses on an aspect of Hawkeye I am not overly a fan of; Hawkeye the murderer. Despite this, Clint is painted in a flawed but heroic light. We spend the second issue inside Clint’s head and having him contemplate a God just so he has someone to blame for his misfortunes is tragically funny. Clint is also one of the forces throwing false accusations around, while Red Wolf becomes the fact checker, glued to his phone and Google. Clint and Wolf’s banter is still top notch, filled with moments like Clint taking a second from the battle to ruminate on Wolf calling him prejudiced. Tilda spends most of the story in the company of Skrulls, but the story constantly has the trio react to the big moments and their individual personalities stand out during these moments. I will definitely miss this team dynamic.
If we are all pieces being moved around on a cosmic board, why does the person making the decisions hate me so much: Walker is not working alone and the art to this story is delivered by Gabriel Walta, hot off a critically acclaimed run on Vision. Walta has a sketchy art style, with a lot of thin lines featured in both faces and backgrounds. The quantity of lines increases when Walta creates his very distinct shadow style, but the shadowing is top notch. Walta is also a master of perspective. He knows how to frame a panel to create a mood, or what camera angle to use to display the fact a vehicle is bigger on the inside than outside. His opening scene with the Skrull zealots have a sinister feeling but the mood completely changes when the story shifts to our heroes. The camera opens up, the colours lighten, and the world feels larger. Walta knows how to bring the sinister feeling back when he draws our heroes from a distance, playing up the sense that they are being watched. There is a lot of alien tech in this arc, but Walta is able to distinguish between Skrull tech and the tech inside Vantastic; one feels rigid while the other feels softer, like something out of an anime. His character work is also solid, with a variety of facial structures and hair to distinguish even those in the background. His Super-Skrull is great, especially the slow reveal that has him turn from human to Skrull.
Colorist Jordie Bellaire and letterer, Clayton Cowles, do a lot to bring Walta’s work to life. Cowles lettering and sound effects reflect the actions going on in the world; the SMAASH of glass breaking is fractured into pieces similarly to the window. And Bellaire makes everything come alive, from little things like luminescent car lights and the sun reflecting off Clint’s purple aviators, to the big ever changing sky-scape. The alien energy that come forms their guns pops off the page, while the inside of Vantastic is an unnatural red that really heightens the Akira-esqe feeling I get from those panels. Perhaps the most brazen moment is when Eden Fesi cameos to ferry Wheels to Clint’s side, which is unlike any other scene in the comic. My one complaint is the inconsistency with Skrull blood; some bleed green and some bleed red.
Verdict: You would not think two separate stories about political asylum seekers coming under fire and overcoming disabilities with what is essentially a Transformer would work so well together, especially in under seventy pages, but Walker and the artistic team pull it off with ease. This book will make you laugh, make you think, and make you feel inspired. And is that not what the Avengers are for?