Picking up from the previous storyline, “Hell Comes to Birmingham” follows the goings-on of MI-13 after they have vanquished all of the Skrulls in England. Essentially, this issue serves as a transition between the baptism of fire from the first four issues to what follows as the “status quo:” for the next few issues.
Cornell uses the characters and their current affairs to define the purpose for this book. In dialog shared through the mouthpiece of MI-13, Pete Wisdom, and the Black Knight in his conversation with Drs. Hussain, “The public wants to see Captain Britain, flying into battle — Spitfire and Black Knight and any other famous heroes alongside — but they don’t necessarily need or want to know what their heroes will be fighting.”
Cornell proceeds to provide depth behind some, but not all, of the characters brought together in the previous quartet of issues. As gleaned in the Skrull storyline, it appears as though Faiza Hussain is going to provide the gateway for the reader into this team. Cornell, however, makes the character a difficult one to read at points, as her dialog is peppered with question marks that are best presumed to be the uncertainty of youth.
Pat Olliffe steps aboard to illustrate this issue, introducing Blade to the confines of MI-13. Olliffe’s work is static and rather reminiscent of a less-experienced, less dynamic Mark Bagley. That’s not to say Olliffe is unaccomplished, as every page is loaded with detail (bricks anyone?) but sometimes the detail infringes on the space of the pieces that are supposed to be dynamic — the main characters. Olliffe is a good pinch-hitter, but Leonard Kirk has already made this book his.
This issue doesn’t accomplish much beyond establishing the team’s direction and revealing a bit about how the recruitment process proceeds to fill the team’s ranks. This is a perfect breather for the team, both of characters and creators, as the cliffhanger final page indicates that we’ve got a lot coming up in one of Marvel’s surprisingly enjoyable new series.