Fantastic Second Half
For the second issue in a row, Christos Gage magnificently depicts the hardship that is having to make life-or-death calls to defend civilians when you are a superhero. This situation has come of many, MANY times over the years, but I have never seen it handled so effectively and so heart-breakingly as I have here, with these heroes in training having no choice but to kill some of Sin's minions in order to stop them from firing on innocent civilians.
In the previous issue, I wasn't entirely sure how strong this theme was. I felt that Tigra's tearing up after trying to console Mettle after he'd killed an enemy combatant might have been just a tad on the deliberately exploitive tearjerker side. I was wrong. This issue puts Veil in the same situation and the emotional impact it made on me was entirely earned with no over-the-top heart string pulling. In fact, the harsh situations these teenagers are put in, in this issue, are so awful, so extreme, that if it were put together by a less capable writer, it just might come off as black comedy.
To some readers, these Fear Itself tie-ins might seem somewhat inconsequential as the students aren't dealing with established supervillains or advancing the Fear Itself story. Instead, mercifully (Fear Itself is getting plenty of advancement elsewhere), these issues have masterfully managed to take the corporate-mandated tie-in issues and use them to further its own characters. In fact, parts of these tie-in issues have been some of the strongest output yet from this usually excellent title. These Fear Itself tie-ins might spend much of their time dealing with things on the far fringes of the story, but in doing so that have managed to be, flat out, the very best of the tie-ins.
And the first half of the comic with its larger-than-life Giant Man vs enhanced Absorbing Man battle is just alright.