If I had been reading this as it was being released, I might have quit somewhere around the first half of this volume. I’ve complained for years about what I call “Marvel Crowds.” These are groups of mostly faceless civilians and bystanders who vacillate between extremes, loving, hating, loving, and hating again the protagonists of the story, likely with little prompting in their fickle loyalty shifting. You definitely see it in comic book movies, like some of the X-Men films and that awful boat sequence in “The Dark Knight.” But I really came to hate it while reading Stan Lee written comics, especially early issues of Silver Surfer. Jeff Smith’s Bone has suffered from this ever since the Bone cousins reached the village and it reaches new heights (or depths) in the early part of this book. I think the only thing I dislike more than Phoney Bone is the villagers who complain about him. By the panels where Euclid starts choking Phoney, I was about ready to close the book and walk away.
I didn’t, however. And things definitely picked up as the volume continued. No longer introducing threads, this volume begins to answer questions and move the plot into high gear. The war is upon our heroes, the enemy is on the march, standing around whining constantly isn’t much of an option.
By the end, the tension has ramped up and the action is at hand. There are a few twists and unexpected turns. The imagery is cool and the reveal of the Hooded One is a nice surprise with plenty of implications.
On to the next volume…
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