Sassmaster General Kelly Sue DeConnick strikes again with her signature wit in “Avengers Assemble” #16, part two of her crossover event “The Enemy Within.” With her usual grace and style alongside artist Matteo Buffagni, DeConnick implements a dark plot set in motion at the very start of her “Captain Marvel” run, leaving readers breathless and thirsty for more.
DeConnick has a knack for little character moments that make Carol’s world seem real even in the most bizarre situations. The comic opens with one such scene between two S.W.O.R.D. agents working the graveyard shift. To pass the time, they play a game (guessing what mundane uses the Avengers use their powers for) and argue back and forth over whether or not Hawkeye really does have superpowers. It’s moments like these that humanize even the smallest characters; even though the scene takes place thousands of miles above the Earth, the scene feels familiar and relatable. Her brief focus on characters like this really color her world.
For the most part, the story weaves fluidly between the S.W.O.R.D. base, New York City and Yon-Rogg’s unknown location. DeConnick transitions her scenes masterfully, turning phrases and actions to connect the story overall. For instance, Agent Brand finishes a sentence started by Wolverine, linking their frustrations and — perhaps — their rising urge to kill. Transitions like this provide not just continuity but some comic relief as well.
However, the action can be a little confusing. It’s hard to tell how our heroes move from one panel to the next; the movement is jarring and chaotic. Some speech bubbles even appear without any speaker. In one panel, someone cries “Sorry!” from out of frame, but there is no indication as to which character it might be — and no way to guess, since the characters appear so inconsistently. For this reason, also, the appearance of the Quinjet seems sudden, until readers realize Black Widow has disappeared from the fight altogether. Even then, it doesn’t explain how she went from a rooftop to the jet and back.
This aside, artist Matteo Buffagni’s style compliments DeConnick’s writing. From facial expressions to background scenes, Buffagni provides minute details that really bring the comic to life. He leaves so many things to look at in each panel that the issue is worth rereading, just to pick up on little things in the background — like the sweeping view of Earth from S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters and the furnishings of Yon-Rogg’s. Likewise, colorists Jordie Bellaire and Matthew Wilson set the mood efficiently with contrasting hues: they employ vivid tones that really brighten up the Avenger’s world. However, when Yon-Rogg takes the stage, the shades get decidedly darker. Between Buffagni, Bellaire and Wilson, this issue stands out with eye-popping detail and color.
Though this title has largely been about the group dynamic between the members of the team, this issue took a particularly personal turn for Carol Danvers. It’s great to see how Carol’s personal demons are beginning to affect the people around her, especially her fellow Avengers. DeConnick raises the stakes with this returned villain from Carol’s past; both Yon-Rogg’s connection with the Psyche-Magnitron (the source of Carol’s powers) and his subsequent renaming reinforce the personal nature of his attacks and make him into a formidable foe both for Captain Marvel and the entire planet. I can’t wait to see how the Avengers tackle this villain, whose only limitation seems to be the scope of his own imagination.