"A Hero's Compulsion, Chapter Five: New Powers"
Writer: Tamora Pierce & Timothy Liebe
Artists: Phil Briones (p), Don Hillsman (i), Chris Sotomayor (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I'm not really sure what the point of this series was. After an impressive opening, the book seems to have got stuck treading water for the last few issues, with Angela Del Toro - the titular White Tiger - going round in circles in her attempt to avenge her ex-partner's death by taking down a forgery ring linked with Sano, the Yakuza member who killed Agent Driver in the pages of Daredevil.
It's not that the story is badly-told per se, but there's nothing that makes it stand out in the sea of superhero origin stories as something special. The lack of any real plot advancement from one issue to the next makes each instalment feel repetitive, and whilst Pierce and Liebe do attempt to move things on a little here, the only real developments are an arbitrary new power of invisibility (which the White Tiger gained from her amulets... somehow...) and Angela's revelation that the fake Daredevil was Iron Fist all along - a fact which has been known by readers for some time now, removing any suspense from the reveal. Another guest-star is randomly introduced, getting in White Tiger's way for no apparent reason other than to delay the plot from moving forwards for yet another month; I'm just happy that next issue will be the last of the current miniseries, as it means that we might finally get some resolution to the plot strands which have been stalling since the second issue.
It's not all bad, as Pierce remembers to give a lot of attention to Angela's personal life to flesh her out as a character as well as a costume, and the scenes with Danny Rand and Luke Cage ring true to the characters and give the book a strong sense of family, firmly rooted in the fabric of the Marvel Universe. Angela's meeting with an aging crimelord also plays against expectations and paints the old Yakuza boss as a more respectful and dignified opponent than the young gang members that White Tiger has encountered so far. David Mack manages to make the book look attractive on the shelf with his consistently beautiful painted covers, and penciller Phil Briones provides some decent interior artwork, capturing Angela's cat-like movements with flair, and telling the story clearly with his clean lines.
Ultimately, though, there just isn't enough here to be able to recommend it as a good superhero book. The writers attempt to create tension with a final-page cliffhanger involving a Spider-Man villain who has no link to the story bar a cameo a couple of issues ago, but it's no substitute for a compelling core plot or a real sense of climax to the overall story of the arc. Readers may enjoy the relative novelty of a solo female superhero book which has such strong ties to the street-level Marvel characters, and Daredevil fans may enjoy seeing these loose ends from Bendis' run get cleared up, but it's unlikely that anyone else will get a huge amount out of this series.
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