Force Works 2020 #3
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Juanan Ramirez, Frederico Blee and Guru-eFX
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Force Works 2020 reaches its conclusion in this one, and you could be forgiven for forgetting there was an event going on. There’s a version of this comic that probably works a lot better outside of being a tie-in, and that’s the book I’d rather read. Matthew Rosenberg has a knack for sitcom-y back-and-forth between his characters, but they don’t all get a fair shake here. Artist Juanan Ramirez has a lot of fun with this one, however, as M.O.D.O.K. gets a bit of a spotlight.(opens in new tab)
At first glance, there is a lot of love about Force Works 2020 — the roster of War Machine, U.S. Agent, Mockingbird, and Quake has a lot of potential, and their status as a sort of government-sanctioned team positions them as an Avengers-adjacent X-Factor. And it is very easy to see Peter David’s X-Factor in the DNA of this book — Rosenberg is thriving when he’s able to deliver witty banter between characters, but when he needs to push the plot forward he’s not able to give every character their due. Mockingbird definitely gets the short end of the stick in this one, and while some machinations of the plot are fun they do feel a bit telegraphed. I think that has more to do with Rosenberg having to work into the larger event more than a reflection of his skills as a writer. There’s fun to be had in stops and starts, but the interactions between these characters feel relatively entertaining and despite the larger event, Rosenberg doesn’t do much to get readers truly invested in what’s going on.
The art is a lot like the writing — enjoyable when it wants to be, but lacking in some spots. Ramirez’s work with M.O.D.O.K. stands out in particular. But the art doesn’t back up Rosenberg’s writing when it most needs to — his expression work in particular leaves something to be desired. His art isn’t a bad fit for Rosenberg’s tone but there’s a noticeable difference between when it’s working and when it isn’t — for instance, close-ups on Quake while she’s enacting Rhodey’s plan really sell her emotions, but the pages just before then have every character’s mouth agape with the same expression. The action sequences work well, but Ramirez’s inability to remain consistent with the emotionality of the script really brings down.
I love a book that focuses on an oddball group of heroes, and Rosenberg establishes a decent dynamic with his characters here. But fairly by-the-numbers plotting drowns out the best parts of the script. By the end of the book, the audience is left holding the bag. Juanan Ramirez’s execution of the script has some great moments and I think with a freer concept, we could really see something special from this team-up. But Force Works 2020 is a learning experience on the road to a more exciting collaboration.