Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill no. 1

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Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill no. 1 (2016)
Nick Spencer, Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna, Paul Mounts

So the jury is still out on whether or not Bucky Barnes is currently a prisoner in Pleasant Hill, although the writing team definitely used that assumption to pull off a clever twist reveal at the end of the comic. He’s definitely a good candidate for the place, however, and if he is trapped there (and if he winds up on the side of the person tapped to lead the Pleasant Hill revolution) that will be super interesting. Bucky has a serious history with the character who was the main focus of this prelude comic, and they are due for a new dynamic.

There were lots of things to like with this crossover introduction.

I liked the Welcome to Night Vale nod. I liked the way Spencer transitioned smoothly between Bucky’s canonical role as The Man on the Wall and the role he’ll presumably fulfill in the aftermath of Standoff!* I liked that the breadcrumbs Spencer has been dropped during the last few months of Captain America: Sam Wilson have led to a very creepy candy house. And I liked the positioning of Maria Hill at the center of the conspiracy.

I’m a pretty big fan of the Amanda Waller-vibe that Maria Hill has got going on in this post-Secret Wars world. She’s always been a morally grey character of questionable ethics (and I love that about her), and we’ve seen this aspect of her personality before: in her approach to the enforcement of the Superhuman Registration Act, in her management of the Secret Avengers, and in her hard-line dealings with the X-Men. I’m glad to see this side of Hill coming to the fore and being taken to its logical conclusion. Between this series and the upcoming Civil War II, the writers at Marvel seem to be gearing up to explore some very interesting questions about the rights and responsibilities of governmental authority and the line between heroics and villainy (always a favorite topic of mine). I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

 


* Unlike some (many?) people, I really liked Ales Kot’s run on Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier (and one day I’ll write an essay explaining why). Kot took a new approach to the character that added some incredible nuances, and I really hope that Marvel doesn’t retcon the BB:TWS story line because I think the push and pull between the Bucky who came to know peace and the Bucky who’s been pulled back into conflict could provide a lot of fodder for some great character development over the course of the new Thunderbolts and Captain America: Steve Rogers series.

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