All this month, I've been expecting certain books to be released, and they keep not appearing. Which is why there are only four books in this batch (and because the store was out of the most recent issue of Henchgirl). So the last week of April better have a ton of books for me.
Illuminati #6, by Joshua Williamson (writer), Mike Henderson (artist), John Rauch (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Nice touch by Rossmo having Crusher's right hand starting to absorb the properties of the ice cream cone.
This issue takes place after the Illuminati - or Hood and Titania anyway - rescue the Absorbing Man from the Pleasant Hill virtual reality prison place. And most of the issue is taken up with Crusher explaining to the Hood what was going on before they got there. He worked in an ice cream shoppe. He had a crush on the sheriff, who turned out to be Elektra. Oh, and he decided he liked the normal life, but not until he wasn't around Skeeter, as she points out before she storms off. So now Crusher is pissed, and wants them to recruit all the villains that were kept prisoner, and then go wipe out SHIELD. Because that's a productive and intelligent plan. What am I saying, this is Absorbing Man we're talking about. He has the brainpower of a turnip.
That was not really what I expected. I was hoping for more of a caper approach, the Illuminati trying to break into Pleasant Hill, figure out what's going on, find Crusher, figure out how to get him to remember who he is, escape SHIELD, maybe tangle with some confused Avengers. Instead, it's a recap issue. I know the book is on its last legs, but it's a letdown.
The variation in the colors between different parts of the issue is interesting. The sections in the Hood's lair are dominated by a black, featureless background, with scant sources of light that begin and end abruptly. The reality in Pleasant Hill has a dusty feel. Sort gritty, dirty, you wouldn't want to breathe the air too much. And the false image is bright and cheery, blue skies. The teenager that was actually Whirlwind(?) has cheeks that almost glow, they're so cherubic. Everything looking pretty, but it's all garbage underneath.
Black Widow #2, by Chris Samnee (writer/artist), Mark Waid (writer), Matthew Wilson (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - I actually got the variant cover drawn by Bengal, because it was being sold more cheaply, and I am cheap. It's not a bad cover, except for the fact it's a Civil War variant, even though that hasn't started yet.
This issue explains why Natasha stole from SHIELD. She was trying to stop a group led by the Weeping Lion from attacking SHIELD at a funeral, except she was the target all along. And this Weeping Lion has records of something Natasha did that's so awful, she will steal from SHIELD just to keep it from leaking. Now, I fully expect that down the line, we will learn Natasha doesn't really care if it leaks, and was just playing along to find out what this bad guy really wanted. But as it stands right now, it's pretty hard for me to believe she did something that would make all her friends and allies turn away. Deadpool is an Avenger right now, with full support of Steve Goddamn Rogers. Wolverine was an Avenger, he's killed more people than organized religion. Tony Stark does something horrible every five minutes, they keep letting him in the door. I think Natasha would be fine. But as I said, it's probably all part of a plan on her part.
That aside, it's still a nice issue. I had wondered, after Natasha trounced her captors, why they would thoroughly search her for tracking devices, but not remove those bracelets of hers. And a page later, we get the answer: They were amateurs, set up by their boss for her to trounce. I like Wilson's occasional use of red during the fights in the cemetery. He doesn't use it every time Natasha strikes, I think he saves it for the moments of greater tension. When she's having to rush, or struggle a bit.
One page I'm trying to figure out is page 18, where the Weeping Lion is standing along the left side of the page, and he stretches vertically across four panels. Including a panel that is just a close-up on his face. That's not really something I can recall Samnee doing before, so it must mean something. The guy's dialogue starts with that figure, but then moves to other pictures of him within the panels. But that larger, full-body image of him is still there.