A-Force #4

When "A-Force" #1 debuted, it was a genuine breath of fresh air, a book that evoked an entire new world in a matter of pages while also unapologetically focusing on female superheroes in the same way that most superhero comics focus primarily on the male characters. While "A-Force" #4 is not a bad comic, Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson, Jorge Molina, Craig Yeung and Walden Wong's latest installment clearly tries to get a lot of the exposition onto the table as the plot gears up for next month's conclusion, and that original sense of wonder and newness is greatly diminished as a result.

To Bennett and Wilson's credit, the mystery of who's been behind all of the portals that plague Arcadia is quickly solved (I suppose it could have only been faster if they'd peeked at the front cover, which spoils it right off the bat). It's a logical choice and, perhaps more importantly, I appreciated that the traitor's lofty excuse has a massive hole in the story pointed out by one of the other characters. The problem is there's no real impact by the revelation, something that once revealed consumes a lot of this issue. If this was "A-Force" #24 instead of "A-Force" #4, this would feel a lot more dramatic, but instead it's almost a bit of a shrug.

The one part of the storytelling that does stand out is the art. I love how Molina, Yeung and Wong draw Singularity with her childlike expressions and an overall sense of grace as she flits across the panels. It works in part thanks to Laura Martin's colors, which have a gentle glow to them as she appears to literally contain the entirety of space inside of her form, with the stars twinkling quietly among the deep blues and indigos that make up her body. Similarly, the big cliffhanger at the end of this issue just feels standard in terms of writing, but the art makes it feel dangerous as the army lying in wait suddenly advances on Arcadia. They're dangerous looking and appear in overwhelming numbers; that's what makes the cliffhanger have a needed punch.

"A-Force" #4 is in the tough situation of having to deliver a lot of plot in order to ramp up for a conclusion. I'm still eager to see an "A-Force" ongoing series, if only because Bennett, Wilson and Molina certainly dazzled me with the early issues. Hopefully, they'll get an opportunity to play to their strengths there; with "Secret Wars" miniseries all starting to wind down, though, the sudden conclusion looming around the corner does "A-Force" no favors. In the end, a great miniseries has ended up with an average installment here.

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