Onslaught 4: Eye Of The Storm
(Art by Ian Churchill, Scott Hanna, Angel Medina, Robin Riggs and Art Thibert)
The fourth book in Marvel's Onslaught saga, focusing on Cable and the Incredible Hulk. This book roughly divides into two halves. In the first, Cable and Storm battle the Hulk as they attempt to break Onslaught's mental control of the behemoth. This is all-action as the two mutants try increasingly desperate measures to defeat their attacker. Perhaps the most interesting element of this half of the book is that the Hulk's various personalities are all featured; the intelligent Hulk, the vicious grey Hulk and, best of all, the savage Hulk.
The second half of the book tells the Hulk and Cable's respective (and separate) stories in the build up to the final battle with Onslaught. The impatient Hulk decides to lead a premature attack on Onslaught, joined by Hawkeye, Falcon, Vision and Crystal. However, their enemy's mental powers supply them with visions that show the spectre of their deaths and reveal the Hulk's disregard for the safety of his allies. Meanwhile, Cable is approached by his archnemesis, Apocalypse, with a plan to deny Onslaught access to Franklin Richards' reality changing powers. It's great to see two enemies, who clearly hate one another, being forced into alliance by an enemy like Onslaught. Naturally, Apocalypse plans a betrayal, but Cable and the Invisible Woman are one step ahead of him.
Although this book doesn't advance the overall Onslaught story very much, it's great to see how the turmoil affects such major characters as the Hulk and Cable. It also contains a line which sums up the tragedy of Xavier's fall; 'And now...what's left of the dream? Or any who followed the dreamer?'
Followed by 'Onslaught 5: The Front Line'.
4 out of 5
Onslaught 5: The Front Line
(Art by Jeff Matsuda, Al Milgrom, Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt, Josh Hood, Derek Fisher, Tom Lyle, Robert Jones, John Romita Jr. and Al Williamson)
The fifth book of the Onslaught saga. Perhaps, technically, this book should be under 'anthologies' as it tells separate tales of X-Factor, Spiderman, Green Goblin and Punisher, but it has the overarching story of Onsalught's Sentinels invading Manhattan, so I've included it here.
The book begins with X-Factor battling Fatale, Post, Random and Havoc, only to learn that they are a distraction whilst an army of Sentinels (giant mutant-hunting robots, if you didn't know) powers up and launches. The main battle against Onslaught goes on elsewhere (covered in the other books of the series), but here we get to see some of New York's solo heroes battling against the Sentinels which have been reprogrammed to kill all super-humans. Peter Parker has to risk the use of his intermittent powers in order to help Ben Reilly, the current Spider-Man. The Green Goblin tries to cope with his own fears and inadequacies in order to continue a hopeless battle. Meanwhile, when the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier is shot down by the Sentinels, the Punisher steps in to protect the survivors from murderous looters.
This book serves to illustrate how the war against Onslaught affects the lives of all of Marvel's heroes, not just those destined to participate in the final battle. Basically, it boils down to this; Spider-Man - good, Punisher - good, Sentinels - good, this book - great!
Followed by 'Onslaught 6: Pyrrhic Victory'.
5 out of 5
Onslaught 6: Pyrrhic Victory
by Mark Waid, Scott Lobdell & Tom DeFalco
(Art by Mike Deodato, Tom Palmer, Andy Kubert, Art Thibert, Carlos Pacheco, Bob Wiacek, Madureira, Tim Townsend, Dell, V. Russel, Milgrom, Adam Kubert, Joe Bennett, Dan Green and Jesse Delperdang)
The conclusion of the Onslaught series. This should have been the greatest graphic novel I've ever read, but unfortunately the entire experience of reading it was ruined. The problem is that the comics which make up the book haven't been arranged in chronological order, meaning that chapter 4 actually takes place after chapter 5 and chapter 2 happens after both of them. The upshot of this is that rather than reading as a continuous coherent story, you're constantly bewildered by the order of events as they chapter you're reading references past events which you won't read until the chapter after next! What's most annoying about all this is that it's so ridiculously unnecessary. If they'd just got someone to proof read the book before printing it, it would've been simple to put it right.
If, however, you can get past this major annoyance, you should love this book. The war against Onslaught reaches a crescendo as the Avengers battle Post and Holocaust, the Fantastic Four confront manifestations of their oldest foes and the X-Men free Charles Xavier from Onslaught's control. Everything comes together in the final chapter as the assembled heroes of the Marvel Universe (not to mention Magneto and Doctor Doom) take the fight to Onslaught himself. The ending is exciting, inspiring and tragic.
So, the screw up with the order of the stories makes me want to give the book a 3, but the quality of those stories makes me want to give it a 5. So, let's split the difference.
4 out of 5