The hunt for the hammers continues as both Valkyrie and Sin move one step closer to their ultimate goal. The book continues it’s dual narrative with middling results as Valkyrie deals with some unwanted undead and Crossbones heads to Paris.
First off, vampires and the Marvel Universe don’t always work. There are some interesting iterations of vampire mythology (Blade, Morbius and the recent conflict between Dracula and MI13) within the House of Ideas. However they usually seem out of place, even if that place is Transylvania. Ironically, the giant snow creature Valkyrie fought last issue doesn’t have this same problem. It could be due to vampire over exposure in the mass media, but when the bloodsuckers get involved you can’t help but roll your eyes.
Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction and Chris Yost once again set the issue up with a prologue. Unlike the last one which defined Valkyrie’s M.O. this one serves as little more than a justification for the interaction between Valkyrie and head Vampire Raizo. It’s a cheap way to try and give more depth to the duel they have later on in the book.
It was inevitable that this series would pick up strands from all corners of the Fear Itself event, but it is unfortunate that The Forgiven come in so early. Perhaps the writing team wanted to deal with them and move on as quickly as possible. The whole Hulk vs. Dracula miniseries always seemed like a bizarre (and pointless) tie-in. Their inclusion doesn’t ruin the read, but after the last issue it just seems a bit bland.
However Valkyrie continues to grow as a character, even if it is only a slight growth, and the final page promises some interesting character interaction next issue. Though it may be too soon to introduce her Secret Avengers team-mates as Valkyrie hasn’t really done much since her fight with War Machine.
This time around Crossbones gets the more interesting mission. He swaggers around a devastated Paris igiving the book a sense of fun. The crazy people who have the hammer were a nice touch and Crossbones reaction to them is excellent. There is a weird charm about this sociopath, which steals the show. However, Sin is yet again physically absent. Although it works within the narrative, she has no real impact on the book. She needs to step out of the shadows soon or there is a risk that Crossbones will become the main antagonistic force within the series, leading to disappointment when he is inevitably taken off the board to make way for Sin.
Bagley and Pelletier continue to do a solid job on the title. It doesn’t have many of the impressive visuals of the last issue, but it is an understated affair. Pelletier does the prologue and although it is full of dead bodies and Nazis experiments, it doesn’t really jump off the page. But Valkyrie in full armour, the interpretation of her ‘death vision’ and the moment she walks away from the explosion all look good. His Crossbones scene is far more interesting. Pelletier draws an intimidating Crossbones and the leader of the cult has a fun resemblance to an older Harry Potter. The three panel execution and aftermath is a great moment as Pelletier’s staging gives us what we need to know without showing it all in bloody detail.
Bagley brings some gothic charm to the Transylvanian setting and is given more action beats than Pelletier. Bagley always executes action well and the fight between Valkyrie and Raizo is fluid with a sense that two deadly fighter are lock in combat. But it just isn’t very exciting. But Bagley does deliver a nice super team surrounded by enemies final page that is a fun visual. Also he does draw a good Secret Avengers team.
The book in general is a bit lackluster. It continues the plot at a steady pace, it has some interesting character beats and the art is solid. But it all just feels very average. Crossbones outshines Valkyrie, Sin’s continued absence is bizarre (especially after all the marketing campaign) and the Vampires are bland. But this could just be a minor hiccup as the Secret Avengers presence could bring some nice moments next issue, if the fight with the Vampires ends quickly.
WRITING: 2.5 / ART: 2.5 / OVERALL: 2.5