David Smyth reviews Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1…
Pleasant Hill looks like the perfect small-town community — but underneath the surface, a deadly secret lurks. One so explosive it will draw estranged allies Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson back together to save a friend in danger and put things right. But when the combined might of the Captain Americas isn’t enough, whom do they call? In the face of unspeakable evil, it’s time for the Avengers to Assemble like never before! The blockbuster spring AVENGERS event starts right here!
The Avengers crossover, originally conceived as a celebration of Captain America on his 75th anniversary, continues this month as all three Caps (past and present) converge on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s latest dumb idea: a cosmic cube powered super-human prison. Things are about to get real in Pleasant Hill.
Continuing on from Welcome to Pleasant Hill, the book sees a wrinkly Steve Rogers finally catching up with Bucky, who appears to have gone rogue once again. When the two eventually meet, Bucky informs prune Cap of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s shenanigans, and Steve is less than thrilled. At the same time, the current Captain America (Sam Wilson) discovers the same problems when he meets up with his enigmatic informant – The Whisperer. As Steve, with Maria Hill in tow, and Sam bare down on Pleasantville, surely a standoff can’t be far away.
Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha (AoPHA) is an enjoyable book, but it is not without its problems. A lot of the back-story to the events playing out here; the Kobik program, Sam and Steve’s falling out etc, have played out in the Captain America title. This means that unless you have been picking up that book, you would be lost reading AoPHA without being properly filled in on those events. Writer Nick Spencer does a fine job of filling in those gaps, but at the cost of AoPHA’s flow. At times it feels clunky and over-expositional. The book’s clever touches; The two Captains mirrored discoveries of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s machinations, Maria Hill’s wonderful turn as an unapologetic jerk, and the introduction to the Marvel Comic book universe of Erik Selvig at times feel like they could be lost in the exposition.
Jesus Saiz produces some gorgeous artwork, which should come as no surprise. Though the issue has its flaws, visually it is almost flawless.
Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 does a fine job of furthering the plot of the crossover, but the need for clumsy dialogue to catch readers up lets it down. What should have been a fun book is instead a little uneven and slow. With the rest of the story playing out over several other titles before the finale, it is hard to see how Spencer can avoid the Omega issue suffering the same problems.