Avengers Assemble #16 is the second in the ‘Enemy Within’ crossover with Captain Marvel, a five issue arc over the two titles, and written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, queen of the clever dialogue and character driven storyline. While this event focuses on Carol, Assemble #16 certainly isn’t wanting for other characters, with an opening scene based on a SWORD craft in orbit, and plenty of heroes featuring prominently during the battle scene that takes up a majority of the issue.
If you’re not reading Captain Marvel, then this issue probably won’t make a heck of a lot of sense. While the battle is against the Brood, the driving force behind their attempted invasion is Yon Rogg, and his personal crusade against Carol. Out of context, this could be confusing for new readers, or those who have never really followed her character’s story. It doesn’t make the issue any less fun, though.
Kelly Sue does a great job here of incorporating four different settings – a SWORD spacecraft, Carol’s apartment, a battle on the streets, and Yon Rogg’s home – while still keeping the story flowing well. While I’ve seen some criticism of the jumps between scenes or panels, I thought this was a great way to create a feeling of chaos, a parallel between the storytelling, and what’s going on in Carol’s head at the moment.
Matteo Buffagni’s art is pretty darn awesome here. Right from the first page, you can tell it’s going to be a great issue visually. The man has real talent with facial expressions, be them close up, or at a distance. I also really appreciated the design of the book. The panels interconnect really nicely, and there’s a particularly excellent and movement filled page featuring Hawkeye, that I went back to a couple of times just to look at. I really cannot fault the art at all – it’s gorgeous.
As always, DeConnick’s dialogue is witty and feels very natural. Despite this being a very Carol-centric issue, all the characters featured get some good page time, and the team dynamic that has been present in previous issues of Assemble is still very much a core focus. The scenes with the graveyard shift pair of SWORD agents, are just as engaging as those featuring the heroes we know, and there’s some great transitions between locations, particularly where Wolverine starts a sentence while slicing through one of the Brood, and then it’s finished by Abigail Brand talking to the SWORD agents currently orbiting the Earth.
All in all, there isn’t a lot of progression to Carol’s storyline here, but the action more than makes up for it. Unlike some stalwarts on the Marvel roster, Deconnick is able to craft a script that on the surface, appears to have a lot going on and keeps you interested, but it’s not until you finish the issue that you realise not much has really happened. Instead of relying on art to fill pages and panels, she uses character interaction and internal monologue, which is far more engaging and entertaining than some of the more high concept titles out there at the moment.
Assemble #16 was a great look into how Carol’s battle with both her brain lesion, and Yon Rogg’s treachery, is affecting her friends, and the world at large. It further demonstrates her inherent stubbornness, and the chaotic turn her life has taken, while enforcing the theme of friendship and teamwork.
Overall, another enjoyable, action packed issue. I can’t wait for the next in this crossover!