Avengers Standoff: Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 Review


Let’s get this straight right off the bat, and with a tiny spoiler: There is no actual assault in Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1. It looks like one might be on the way by the time the issue ends, but there’s no guns blazing, all Avengers teams uniting against a common foe moment.

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That’s not a criticism at all, by the way, because this crossover is simply built differently. Two weeks ago, Nick Spencer and Mark Bagley surprised us by laying out by laying out the core concept in a refreshingly suspenseful way. S.H.I.E.L.D. is running a prison that looks like an idyllic town, using the power of fractions on a cosmic cube to keep the villains there not only peaceful, but physically transforming them into other people.

Cracks in that little plan started forming almost right way, and this time out, Spencer and Jesus Saiz get all the major players on the board. Besides Bucky Barnes, both the current (Sam Wilson) and former (Steve Rogers) Captain America learn about Pleasant Hill. They’re just not 100 percent aware of the extent of what’s going on there, along with the moral dilemma inherent in shutting the experiment down.

Seeing one of them discover the truth is most of the fun in this issue, particularly because Spencer writes the most entertaining Maria Hill of all time. Some of her men (particularly the ones involved in the clever opening gag) might not think she has much of a sense of humor, but Hill manages to go above her usual sarcastic retorts to full on quipster status. Her level of confidence is almost off-putting, but then she’s been Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while now, and she damn well better feel like she knows what she’d doing.

Saiz doesn’t get to do much action until the finale, which kicks off with a callback to a famous Marvel event from the past. There are a lot of good bits with expressions along the way though, everything from Hill’s smirking to Rogers’ gritted teeth to Wison’s earnestness. I’ve long thought the current Captain America costume can’t be the easiest one to draw, but Saiz makes everything look so smooth and effortless.

The payoff is a logical extension of the one from the crossover’s opening chapter, and clearly, things in Pleasant Hill are going to get very hectic very fast. It should be fascinating to see all of the assembling that’s going to take place in this particular town over the next two months, as this is a saga that’s off to an intriguing start.


Three Things to Ponder

  1. Given all of his other skills, isn’t it at least a little surprising that Bucky isn’t an awesome cook too?
  2. Shouldn’t Steve remember that the Marvel heroes have dealt with immature Cosmic Cubes before?
  3. Will there ever be a supervillain prison concept that doesn’t go horribly awry (see also: The Raft, 42, The Vault and many others)?

Next: Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1 Review

Favorite Moment

The euphoria at hacking into NFL Sunday Ticket was a great bit, but I also like the subtlety here.

See kids? Bucky Barnes known his culinary safety and pulls his hair back when he’s manning the grill!