Editor's Note: Avengers/Invaders #7 arrives in stores Friday, January 2.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review discusses plot developments of the issue.
"Book Seven: Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot"
Until now, my take on the Avengers/Invaders series is that it is a well-plotted story with mostly good dialog--and that view hasn't changed. However, the un-inked illustrations in this latest issue show a decline over the previous six. Steve Sadowski illustrated the first four issues by himself. However, Patrick Berkenkotter was then credited as the co-penciler for the fifth and sixth issues (as well as for this issue).
In my review of issue #6, I stated:
The two pencilers appear to work seamlessly together as I can't easily discern which pages are by Sadowski and which are by Berkenkotter. Both are equally good in presenting the story by Krueger and Ross effectively.I'm going to retract that statement now. There's a definite decline in the quality of some of the layouts and the line work in this issue (and by "line work," I mean the appearance of the illustrated objects).
I don't know which penciler is to blame for the reduction in quality. Perhaps both are, though I suspect Berkenkotter since it's possible he did more of this issue than he did of issues #5 and #6. In general, the layouts on some pages look simplistic--such as panels on pages 13-14 in which Black Widow and Spider-Woman are fighting through a horde of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (or Life Model Decoys of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents). Additionally, the line work looks rushed in a few places--giving the faces of some characters more of a "doughy" look.
The illustrations aren't bad; they're just not as good as they were in the first six issues—particularly from page 11 to the end of the issue. I have no idea how the pencilers divided up the work (a breakdown by pages isn't listed in the credits), but the work in the second half of the issue just appears to be rushed.
Another problem I had with the illustration appears on page 11 (which is the first page of lesser quality). The first panel shows the Golden Age Human Torch (not ignited) lying unconscious on a table. The point of view of the panel is from the ceiling directly above the table, and it appears that there are five Life Model Decoys who have fallen asleep on the Torch's body.
Oddly, two of them seem to have fallen asleep face down with their mouths on his wrists, two others fell asleep on his legs, and the fifth fell asleep on his chest. Then I thought, "no, they're not asleep, you idiot, they're dead--each is clearly bleeding from his mouth."
I figured these Life Model Decoys must have been shot while attending to the Torch's body, and blood (or some sort of red fluid) was pouring out of their mouths. It wasn't until I got to page 17 that I realized they weren't dead or asleep. From a different point of view, they were now clearly shown to be chewing on the Torch's wrists, knees, and chest--in an image that so closely matches a scene from the 1995 film Embrace of the Vampire that I'm certain the penciler must have been using it as a reference image.
However, instead of a naked Alyssa Milano being chewed on by vampires while she's tied to a bed, a fully clothed Human Torch is being chewed on by LMDs while he's tied to a table. Then the LMDs raise their heads and we see the face of the villain who is possessing their bodies. It's really pretty hoaky to see Ultron's big metal teeth sticking out like vampire fangs from the LMDs' mouths.
Finally, Spider-Man is still being scripted with some terrible dialog. In this issue he launches into a complaint about the demon D'Sparye's name--which, admittedly, is as lame as Spider-Man implies. Fortunately, Doctor Strange says, "Quiet."
Thankfully, Spider-Man remains so for the rest of the issue.
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