"Brothers and Keepers, Part 1: Death by Design"
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Andrea Divito (p), Scott Koblish (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As M.O.D.O.K. begins to carry out a string of ruthless murders, we see Captain America and the Falcon are busy making a concentrated effort to bring down the Rivas drug cartel. However, Captain America is beginning to suspect that M.O.D.O.K. might have a mental influence over him, and a conversation with a concerned Robbie Robertson brings up the idea that Sam's erratic behaviour might also be the result of an outside influence.
The one problem that I do occasionally find myself having with Christopher Priest's work is that the plot becomes a bit difficult to follow, and I feel sorry for any new readers who joined this title due to it's tentative link to the "Avengers Disassembled" crossover, though to be fair the cover to this issue doesn't make any mention of being linked to that story. Still one's enjoyment of this issue is dependant on one being able to keep track of the various threads that have been introduced in previous issues, as well as figure out how the new elements that this issue introduces fit into the still forming final picture. Now I will concede that it is nice to get writing that trusts the reader's ability to follow the complex nature of the plot, but I have to say there are moments when I find myself having to stop and remember a plot development that was introduced in an issue several months back, and I have to openly wonder if Christopher Priest is tailoring his books more for the reader that will encounter this story in its trade paperback format. Still there are intriguing elements in this issue, such as the suggestion that Captain America and the Falcon have both fallen under the mental sway of M.O.D.O.K. There's a couple plot twists that caught me off guard, from the teaser about who took a shot at Robbie Robertson, to the emotional impact of the final page. Plus, how can one not enjoy the looming threat role that M.O.D.O.K. plays in this issue.
I'm enjoying Andrea Divito's work over on "Thor" so seeing him providing guest-art on this title is a welcome sight, as it's a highly polished style with enough detail that one can't help but be impressed, and it also doesn't hurt that it does an effective job of laying out a fairly complex plot. I also have to give this issue credit for its work on M.O.D.O.K. as the character is very much a Silver Age concept, but both the cover and the interior art do a fantastic job of bringing a very real sense of menace to a visual that could've been quite silly. In fact the opening appearance of the character stands up as the most impressive visual of the issue, with the attack in the washroom being a very close second. The art also does a solid job capturing the scene where Robbie discovers his life has just been threatened, and the final page offers up an undeniably powerful image.
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