The Cavalry Stayed Home U.S.Avengers #6

U.S.Avengers #6 takes place during the opening salvo of the "Secret Empire" crossover. As an early part of a "bad guys win" story it is appropriately depressing and our heroes wind up in some bad places. Artist Paco Medina communicates this primarily through two visual motifs. First, clutter and chaos that make the scenes (especially the space scenes) as overwhelming and confusing to the reader as they are to the characters. And second, alternating diagonal rhythms that stymie forward momentum and create a downward spiral similar to the ones experienced by the characters.

Here's a random page from the issue, set aboard the U.S.Avengers helicarrier just after Roberto has been informed that Cannonball is missing in action, presumed dead.

Sir? I have an incoming transmission.U.S.Avengers #6 (July 2017), page 14.
Pencils by Paco Medina, inks by Juan Vlasco, colors by Jesus Aburtov.

This page is largely devoid of the visual clutter of the rest of the issue - the computer banks and screens add enough to make things feel cramped without overwhelming the eye. And that's appropriate. Roberto is having to mourn his lost friend, so the focus is off the surroundings and onto the figures. Additionally, the first three panels are filled with non-dynamic right angles and simple compositions that would befit a somber moment of silence.

Circumstances, however, won't let him have that. He may be successfull at momentarily clearing away the clutter but the posiing and positioning of Larry and the sloping walls of the helicarrier keep the downard diagonal rhythms of previous pages intact. In the first panel Roberto manages to stand athwart this rhythm but in his despair be begins to accede to it, bowing his head and falling right into HYDRA's trap. Which is represented here by Doctor Faustus on a giant screen, sloping in the opposite direction of everything else on the page, completing the spiral. And Roberto? His arms and legs are set at a contrasting angle, but it's not heroic resistance, just shock and surprise. Is too late - his torso is angled forward as he's sucked in by the seductive words of Faustus's hypnotic system.

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