The Top Cow/Marvel crossover Fusion #1 hits shelves this week. While there’s definitely something here, the first issue is a bit of a mixed bag.To start, this story takes place before Secret Invasion, as it stars Marvel’s “Mighty” Avengers, as led by Tony Stark, and the Thunderbolts before they became the “Dark” Avengers. Top Cow’s Cyberforce and several characters from Hunter-Killer are also in starring roles. Now I’m pretty familiar with everybody but the Hunter-Killer people, but thankfully there’s a handy “who’s who” page opening the book for those of us who need a little help figuring out the major players.
When an event book like this arrives, seemingly completely free of any continuity restrictions, there’s a lot of opportunity for the creative team to really sink their teeth into a wild, uncompromising adventure. There’s also a chance the story might fall flat on its face by trying to be too grandiose. Thankfully, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning know how to craft an engaging story, and keep the latter from happening. The two are working with a lot of characters in an extremely short amount of time, and the story suffers a bit. Their dialogue has always been very good, and here that track record continues, but the plot is all over the place. The six scene changes happen very rapidly, and created a much more confusing atmosphere than I think was intended. I understand they only have three issues to work with to complete the tale, but by the end of this issue I knew as much about what was happening as I did at the start: bupkiss.
Tyler Kirkham has shown flashes of being an artist worthy of a triple-A title. The problem I run into with some of the books he’s worked on is his consistency panel to panel. This issue is a prime example of why I think he just hasn’t reached that next level yet. His action sequences are pretty solid, and anytime he has less than three panels on a page, you can really see just how talented he is. When the pages call for more panels, there’s a clear difference in his work. The first two pages the Avengers show up are a good example of what Kirkham does right, and when he misses the mark. I will say this, the man draws one hell of a Ripclaw. Every time that character makes an appearance he stands out. I just wish he could carry that consistency over to everyone else.
Even though I’m not sure what’s going on, I trust Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to come through. They’ve got a solid catalog behind them, and I’ve enjoyed just about everything else they’ve done. I like all the characters involved in this crossover, and I want to like this story, but it doesn’t have much more time to win me over. The book sticks to Top Cow’s $2.99 price point, and that’s a plus, but that doesn’t make it a must buy. If you enjoy the Avengers, Thunderbolts, Cyberforce or Hunter-Killer, this is worth a look on a light week.