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The most poignant line of this issue — maybe even the series — is uttered by Gorilla-Man as the two teams finally confront the “freaky face thing,” as Ms. Marvel calls it. He says, “It wants the Avengers the way they used to be.” With that line, Parker delivers a gut check to readers who clamor for their characters and teams to be just as they remember them, and only as they remember them.
This is still a Jeff Parker-scripted “Atlas” book, though, complete with the one-liners and quips from Gorilla-Man. Parker is well-versed with characters beyond his regular team, and finds the voices of the Avengers quite easy to share with the reader. This is a time-twisted tale that allows Parker to pick and choose who (and when the who) he wants to write here. His choice of tethering Giant-Man to Wasp is inspired, as is her reaction to the revelation that complicates the situation.
Hardman’s art is photo-inspired, but not traced. The figures carry identities throughout this entire issue and series. Hardman’s composition is unorthodox, with panels shrinking and growing throughout the story, but in this story it works completely. The story demands the backgrounds to be sparse, which opens the page for Breitweiser to add a layer to this story through her colors. The light is warm and soothing, the chrono-virus is fluid and echoes when people talk near it. All of this comes through in the art and the colors.
The backup story featuring Gorilla-Man is a nice tribute to the character, offering a peek at the mortal side of the immortal ape-man. Caracuzzo is a great choice to be the artist on this story, which is darker than the standard Atlas fare.
I’m glad Marvel has put a great deal of faith in the hands of Parker and Hardman and allowed them to tell stories — such as this one — that set the stage for a return of the “Atlas” comic. This issue is not going to be required reading prior to diving into that series, but it does serve as a great appetizer, especially since Hardman and Parker will be the creative team.