*Ties into the Secret Empire crossover
Occupy Avengers has brought something to the table this month that really should have been here already: an actual fight-the-power narrative.
Where is the fight-the-power stuff in this story about a Neo-Nazi fascist organization taking over America? Yeah, the Underground, the Champions, and the Defenders are trying to find a way to overcome Hydra, but it's all disconnected from the actual conflict in some way. The Underground is tracking down Cosmic Cube shards, the Champions are infiltrating the Hydra Youth Choir in a story (Uprising) that can't hold a straight face or a compelling plot for more than a page, and the Defenders are fighting demons in Manhattan.
Other than that, the story has really only brought a lot of the resistant heroes sitting around with their thumbs up their asses. None of this is actually taking the fight to Hydra or even resisting them in a meaningful way. Yes, they're all plot threads that are probably going to hit a simultaneous climax through the power of plot contrivance and bring down Hydra, but none of it is satisfying in a fight-the-power kind of way.
Now, here we are with Occupy Avengers, a criminally underrated book about Hawkeye and his band of nomadic superheroes who deal with odd threats, giving the reader an actual fight-the-power narrative and genuinely resisting the Secret Empire. And this book is going to end next issue. Oh, Marvel.
Please, give this a chance before you start screaming sales figures at me or how this book is shit because it has the word "Occupy" in the title.
I really do feel bad for David F. Walker. He is a genuinely talented writer. However, between this book and Nighthawk, Marvel really won't give a book of his much time to garner a readership. After this ends, the only book he'll have in the Marvel house is Luke Cage, which is another good book that might still get unceremoniously axed in the next year.
He also did a stint on DC's Cyborg that was also really good, and you should check it out.
Anyway, this issue of Occupy Avengers takes place after the Secret Empire has taken over, and Red Wolf, Deadly Nightshade, and Wheels Wolinski are trying to put together a plan to fight back. They recruit Silas and Frank Fireheart, two Native Americans who fought alongside Hawkeye and Red Wolf in their first struggle over water rights.
They want to push back against Hydra's harsh rationing of food, and we see it in action as a Hydra troop is laying out their rationing plan to a crowd. They immediately execute an old farmer who speaks out against it.
From here, Red Wolf, Deadly Nightshade as Nighthawk, Wheels, the Fireheart twins, and a number of old LMDs ambush a Hydra ration convoy. Here, we learn that Nighthawk has already been killed by Hydra. After the ambush, this team of Avengers gains support from the farmers and locals.
From here, we turn to Hawkeye and Black Widow having just finished up a sexual liaison back at Underground HQ. Hawkeye is still in contact with Red Wolf and Nightshade's Avengers and is helping them coordinate their struggle against Hydra. He wants them to build and army and splits the team up to get supplies.
This turns bad when Red Wolf, Wheels, and Nightshade/Nighthawk are ambushed by Hydra as the issue ends.
Firstly, I want to say how much I like that Mr. Walker casually killed Nighthawk off-screen. It felt like a sly middle finger to Marvel for killing another one of his books.
Like I said, I dig the hell out of the classic resistance narrative Occupy Avengers brings. They're stealing food, rallying the people, and attacking remote Hydra convoys. They're actually fighting back against the Empire.
What makes it a little better, they're left to do this because Hydra looked over them. They didn't think the likes of Red Wolf, Nightshade, and Wheels were genuine threats like the mainline Avengers and X-Men. They were wrong, and this small band of Avengers is going to prove it.
This book focuses mainly on Nightshade and Red Wolf. That won't interest a lot of people, and I can't say that these two are among my favorite heroes. However, it is pretty cool seeing these guys plot the downfall of the Secret Empire and do so with a tenacity that many of the big guns seem to have lost in the course of this story.
All that aside, the art is significantly underwhelming. They kicked Declan Shalvey off the book for a new team, and it's not great. The first half has some serviceable if rough material that shockingly falls apart when the Thing is briefly shown and looks like the Toxic Avenger. The second half, a new artist takes over, and to be frank, it doesn't look good. The foreheads are huge, everyone is made up of sharp polygons, and it is generally unappealing. The colors manage to stay pretty vibrant throughout though, and that does help some.
Despite the less-than-impressive art, I still have to recommend this book. It's the most satisfying tie-in to Secret Empire I've read yet. Where the Underground one-shot worked regardless of its connection to Secret Empire, this issue of Occupy Avengers works with the crossover to give a good resistance narrative. It's not brilliant, but it's really gratifying. Give this one a read.