Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1 review

Baron Zemo is out to get the upper hand in Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega. He's dispatched Kraven the Hunter to trap Cosmic Cube kid Kobik in the hope of reshaping reality to match his Nazi worldview. A young-again Steve Rogers rallies the various Avengers teams to take on the dozens of super-villains just freed from the mental chains that made them think they were ordinary citizens of a perfect community. 

The Standoff event running through various Avengers and allied books has been pretty decent fun, a big daft crossover that's not too big. OK, there's the threat of reality being reshaped but that's just Tuesday in the Marvel Universe; what's refreshing is that it's been superheroes vs supervillains without zillions of non-combatants getting killed. There are a few SHIELD agents offed here, which is sad mainly because none of them are the incredibly annoying Maria Hill. She's in this issue, in a post-battle scene that sees her threatened with losing her job by her superiors. 
What she has to do to get sacked I don't know - she's presided over the massive failure of an off-grid operation, and her snotty attitude irks them all. 

Baron Zemo has a fair few amusing lines. He shouldn't. He's meant to be a follower of Adolf Hitler, not a wannabe stand-up. 

Is it spoiling things to say the good guys rout the bad guys? I can tell you that despite the occasional pleasures I found this issue pretty underwhelming. There's plenty of nice dialogue. Steve makes a rousing speech. The only event of note is the transformation of SHIELD agent Avril Kincaid into a new version of Quasar, but you'd barely know it from the comic. 
She gets no big entry splash, and if you don't know Wendell Vaughn's history as Quasar, you're scunnered. Writer Nick Spencer doesn't give any background information after Vaughn shows up looking sad, neither does he explain why the energy blasts of the quantum bands he gives Avril are more effective against a force shield than the powers of a dozen or so Avengers. Why does Wendell not wish to be Quasar? Why is Avril his successor? We've seen heroic identities passed on plenty of times in Marvel Comics - usually one of Hank Pym's - but there tends to be a character arc involved. All we've seen of Avril is that she was an agent in Pleasant Hill and she tells us she wishes to be a hero. 

Zemo having been dealt with by Kobik, the book winds up with another big Marvel villain declaring that he'll succeed where the baron failed. He's hidden in shadow for a few pages, so is obviously being held back as a surprise - but his daughter is on panel calling him 'Father' and we've seen him in daylight earlier in the book. It's all very strange. 
The art by illustrators Daniel Acuña, Angel Unzueta and colourist Matt Wilson is easy on the eye. There are a few good skirmish images, but what Spencer fails to give them to draw are individuated moments among the greater conflict. One-on-one run-ins between heroes and villains showcasing powers and personalities, the type of fight scenes that helped make Marvel great. 

The book does have one great image...
... and I'm looking forward to the Thunderbolts series spinning off from here hugely, but for a crossover bookend I want more. More than a 'this is OK' feeling. Heck, an actual cover image would've been nice rather than a boring block of blue to complement the boring block of yellow that fronted the other Standoff bookend. 

If you've not been buying the crossover, but have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited, you can start reading it in about five months. It's a pleasant time-passer, you'll likely have some fun. But I honestly can't recommend paying Marvel prices for something that could, and should, be a lot better. 


  1. I remember when comic books had an image on the front to entice someone to look through it or buy it. I guess without one it is supposed to come across as "oh wow! what could be in here!"

    1. There's no point wasting a cover on this as only hopeless addicts are buying these crossovers at this stage, and you might put fancy art on the front of an ecstasy tab, but you don't put it on a packet of heroin. Well, not unless you are a particularly classy scumbag who's big into branding.

    2. That could be it, Uncle - or a dearth of imagination.

      'Hopeless addicts' Brigonos? Weeping now!

    3. I honestly wondered at first why you had posted unfinished/ "censored" covers that had been put out for the solicits and not the actual covers themselves.

      My theory above might have pulled me if I saw them in person but I think only if I were so certain it would contain something "magical" would I have not looked inside and left it there.

      As for your additional theory, I can see that also, sadly. I wonder if the price would have gone up for an "actual" cover, or if the price is up for making the genius in marketing for this idea.

      I'm generally so burnt out and jaded about Big Event books or anything saying it'll "change things forever." I am collecting the Spider-Women crossover just because I want to support Jess. Oh, and Rebirth because I hope it'll remake DC into something I'll actually truly enjoy again.

    4. How is Jessica? I see the craft of the current series but it's just #notmyspiderwoman - I want Jessica in creepy stories with the likes of Nekra and the Needle.

    5. I dropped the first volume before Secret Wars. She was being written as pretty incompetent at things she'd been established as superior at. She was being Hawkeyed. This new volume has her as splendid as she should be. The woman took down a Skrull invasion in labor! The new costume is still hideous and the art one step up from amateur but the story sells it magnificently!

    6. 'Hopeless addicts'? Way to dismiss things you don't like as bad since you don't like them. I honestly enjoy most of Marvel's crossovers when they go through my books. I won't buy a series in them I don't usually (I skipped Howling and Uncanny Avengers for Standoff and Spider-Gwen in the Spider-Women crossover) but I won't denigrate people who do. After all, taste and personal experience vary person to person. Heck, I hear there's people who actually like DC crossovers or the idea firing the Batgirl creative team is a good way to signal great things coming from Rebirth...

    7. Re: Websy, I like the series, but I'm biased because it's a comic book of Jessica Drew. I totally miss Jess as being Marvel's "Dark Angel" with all the territory that comes with it, including villains, and sometimes I think there's too much quirkiness, I feel that the character is being written in a way that does move her forward.

      Jessica has had so much crap go on in her life from the very beginning, and while things still don't go smoothly for her, she's able to accept it and rise above what's handed to her. Instead of a hero who has allowed herself to go into a deep dark brooding mess, she's a survivor and is written as a seasoned crime fighter who has a lot of experience.

      Her sarcasm and cynicism could be annoying, and even thought of as too much Spider-MAN, but I think she's portrayed unique enough, and it can be viewed as something that comes with a person who's grown and changed. In some ways, she more in line with her animated spidery self.

      I wasn't happy with her being written with a baby at first, but she seems so happy and while she's had those moments, they've been few and far between all these years.

      Carol/ Captain Marvel is an ongoing supporting cast member, in one way or another, but I love that their friendship is depicted as so strong, and such a recognizable and beloved one in Marvel, and their interaction is always enjoyable.

      We are besieged with countless other Spider-Women, all who are related in someway to Spider-Man, and who are too popular, lol, but I'm pleased that I can support a book featuring Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman, which I've longed to do since I was a child. Overall it's a fun book (as is the Spider-Women crossover - but whoaaaa that "Alpha" special has such bad art!) and definitely portrays Jess as a character with history and heart, bad ass and able to keep up with any other Marvel hero. Like with Supergirl, Jessica Drew (and her fans) are often treated terribly, but even though she's not the "dark angel" with the best hair and one of the best super-hero costumes ever anymore, she's still awesome. :P

      You really should check out her book, Martin. If you can buy and review all those "H'El on Earth" and NuBloodlines ;) you could totally get through some issues of a comic book featuring Jessica "I'm from the U.K. too" Drew. :P :P

    8. Good points, Steve, we like what we like, and if we don't like something but buy it anyway, that's our business. (Of course, there are some 'Hopeless addicts' who are just fans of Dennis...)

      Uncle, OK, I'll try some more Spiderwoman in a month or two when it shows up on Unlimited. Really, though, I need to see some personality traits connecting the current Bendised Jessica Drew to the original who so fascinated me.

    9. Good! I'm glad I have *some* influence on you. :P I can understand your point though.

      When I fell in love with Jess it was through Beta video tapes, and I was six or seven. By the time I found her in the comics she was already no longer Spider-Woman, but I didn't really realize that at first. I started to collect her series and I was disappointed because that version didn't have all the cool powers as her cartoon counterpart, and she didn't have yellow "eyes" that could blink. :P Anyway, I did come to really love the comic version, and her dark and mysterious nature with the crazy villains and being connected to the tales of King Arthur - which I loved - made me enjoy how unique she was. While I enjoyed seeing her team-up with Spider-Man, I thought it also unique that she was not connected to him in any way (something which Marvel has sort of undone).

      While I'm grateful that Bendis brought her in the forefront again, I was very angry with Marvel for years of spending money on comics that turned out weren't even her but a skrull. I enjoyed the Origin mini-series as something akin to an alternate take but I just don't understand how him being such a "fan" of her would erase so much of what resonated with her fans. It also didn't make sense that he would ask if she ever had a definite origin, and Marvel say he could do one when it had been established for years what her origin was.

      While I loved that she was trained by Taskmaster and loved seeing her dance in a club (Go, Jess!) I didn't get how he could erase so much continuity. I mean, Bova was an established character, so why suddenly have her just look like a cow in Jessica's dreams or whatever. The search for her missing father through her series, which had brought her with evil doll woman and the Brothers Grimm, taken away to have him alive but portrayed as alive and betraying her was unnecessary.

    10. For a while the Marvel Universe entries still had that she had her original origin story and history, but I'm not sure if they do anymore.

      I think it was mentioned once in a DK entry, IIRC, but it's something never explored is her pheromone power. It was always men love/ want/ obey her, women fear/ hate her. Was it that definitive? How would it work on someone who was gay/ bi/ asexual/ trans? But, I digress.

      One thing with this new book (including last volume) is that Jessica Drew is using her private investigating skills. I always felt that was something unique about her character, and it's nice that it hasn't been forgotten. It would have been nice to have seen her interact with Daredevil back in the day, even though she was based in San Fran at the time. This does go back to what drew Ms. Drew to you, which isn't used anymore and that is that she was supposed to be freaking scary. She can put the fear of God into someone nowadays but I don't think it's the same, especially when she is wearing only little more than goggles.

      One thing that this new costume does get right is that she has WEB wings under her arms, not just bat-like wings as she's been depicted for most of her modern view.

      BUT, I realize that I've done nothing but make you steady your position of this not being your Spider-Woman, but if you think of it more as so many characters today have changed, but the core of her is there, and just try to enjoy the book for what it is, you might come around. :P Plus, she's probably more your Spider-Woman than it'll be your Wally West!

      One last thing you might be amused by, it wasn't easy to get back issues of hers where I lived that I had at that age of six or seven to call, I think it must of have been Mile High Comics, from the pages of a comic book advertising back issues.

      "Hi, I want to buy this and this and this ..."

      "We need a credit card."

      "Oh. Just a minute."

      "Mom, can I use your credit card to buy comics," I yelled up the stairs to my mother, probably in the bathroom.



      I knew where her purse was, so I thought about stealing it. I couldn't do it, so I went back on the phone. I started saying random numbers to the guy.

      "That's not enough numbers."

      "Okay." I started to say some more numbers.

      "That's too many."

      I don't remember how I ended the call. In any case, I didn't get any comics, and one day after school ended, and I climbed into the car with my mom.

      "Craig, why is there a hundred dollar call to New York?" My mom wasn't happy, even when I tried to reason that it was only fair considering I didn't get the comics. But that was nothing compared to how, uh, unhappy she was when she found out I had forged a cheque to get Mail-Away Transformers!

    11. That's hilarious! And thank you for all the info on Bendis Spiderwoman, I simply didn't waste any cash on it when I heard he was good to be arsing around with her origins, she'd already had at least two. Sassinrassinfrassin...

      I will, as I say, go back to the new book, if for no other reason them to see if they ever revealed who the dad is.

  2. I'm kind of curious how many people brought Standoff just because and how many brought it for Nick Spencer. I know that's what I did.

    I will also go to my grave contesting the idea that Zemo and similar villains can't be funny in their own way, but you keep a civil house Martin and I already went mad on the Hanna Barbera announcement, so.

    1. Oh Simon, let your annoyance fly, you're always a good egg, so vent away as necessary!

      And Spencer helped me decided to buy - it certainly wasn't that ruddy cover!


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