I have to admit, I wasn’t really aware that Marvel had this new Standoff event in the works. And I don’t follow recent Captain America, Shield or Avengers storylines so I wasn’t sure if there would be anything here to grab me. But I decided to go ahead and pick up Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill 1 and Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill (Alpha?) 1.

It turns out, I don’t need to have read a lot of those recent books as this is a rare story that actually gives background information on how we got to this point. So far the story centers around Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers, Bucky and Rick Jones with not a whole lot of Avengers.

Welcome to Pleasant Hill appears to be a one shot. It introduces the town of Pleasant Hill, which is sort of a Truman Show/Pleasantville/Wayward Pines amalgam being run by SHIELD as a prison and basically powered by the Cosmic Cube which is now sentient and takes the form of a little girl.

In Assault on Pleasant Hill, Steve is made aware of the existence of the town and, of course isn’t too happy about it. This sets him at odds with SHIELD and probably some of the other Marvel heroes (like maybe Iron Man I’m guessing?)  The fact that the Cosmic Cube is involved sets up a lot of possibilities for tinkering with the Marvel Universe so I’m interested to see where that goes.

Overall, I have to say I’m intrigued enough to pick up subsequent issues, although I won’t be getting tie-ins unless there is a creative team that I just can’t pass up. But I’m wondering what exactly Standoff is. An event? A mini-event? A pre-event leading into Civil War II?  

Anyway, I though about posting comments in various threads but I decided to just set up a new catch-all thread in case anyone wanted to discuss.

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This thread does say 'SPOILERS'.

Total Baronial Spiral Crisis Victoria Winters Interminable Foundling Home Story Neutron Wave Spoiler Attack!

Avengers Standoff: Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 (May 2016):

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Jesus Saiz) The art is pretty good, I think.

OK, we start with four guys on a SHIELD* Helicarrier called "Iliad", (which is an odd name for a helicarrier) who are trying to watch football.  They are interrupted by Bucky, who has been bad. Steve is upset.

Elsewhere, Sam fights an eco-terrorist called the Green Skull (Wasn't that an Amalgam character?). Everyone's mad at him - what'd he do?  A hacker called the Whisperer calls him in.  The Whisperer turns out to be be (B***h, I'm) Rick Jones, last of the Great Silver Age Pointless Sidekicks, who has survived the otherwise total extinction of his race, and who has learned hacking skills after being exposed to a plot device.

At the same time, Steve meets Bucky at a diner, where Bucky makes him eggs.  We then get tag-team exposition as Snapper and Speedy tell Sam and Steve that Maria Hill has been lying to them and using the Cosmic Cube for illicit purposes.  Dusty and Pieface flee when SHIELD shows up at their respective locations. Sam summons help and Steve confronts Maria, who takes him to Pleasantville Hill. She is being an evasive smartarse (Sample Dialogue: "Eat it, DeBlasio" yeah, that's what I want to see in a Marvel comic).

The reveal when it finally comes is that the town's inhabitants are all super-villains who have had new identities and appearances imposed on them.  Steve is outraged. Maria shows him Kobik - a little girl who is a living incarnation of the Cube - sort of like the little girl in "Silence in the Library".  A Doctor Selvig gives some exposition. Just when he gets to the "Nothing can possibly go wrong" part of the conversation, we learn that several of the villains, led by Baron Zemo (Which one is this, anyhow?  We must be up to the original's great-grandson by now!), have thrown off their conditioning. Nitro shows up and blows up (Real good!). Kobik goes missing, Steve calls for back-up, and Zemo IV (V?) shows up with a bunch of heels, and eggs him on, saying, "The more, the merrier, I say."

Overall:  Mildly interesting. I'm not going to buy another of the crossover, but I'll probably buy the Omega issue.

*Stands for "Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division" , got that?

I'll elaborate later (or elaborater) but in short, I don't like that SHIELD are the bad guys again. I don't like Maria Hill (see the first Civil War series which I am NOT discussing again) and I certainly don't like her flippant attitude or her being condescending to Steve. Or lying to him. And the government. That's called going into business for yourself and it never ends well.

Rick Jones is the hacker no one can trace? Really? And he's not afraid of SHIELD? He's acting like 1) he still has the Hulk backing him up or 2) he's still wearing his nega-bands!

The problem is that I'm rooting more for Baron Zemo (the son, I think) than Jason Todd and John Stewart and that's not right! Atlas is with the world's most dangerous villains so his long-running storyarc for redemption is wiped away. Nitro is still around after the atrocity he committed! It just looks like a set-up for the new Thunderbolts book!

And I bet this living Cosmic Cube will rejuvenate Steve Rogers!

But this series will affect Agents of SHIELD, Captain America: Sam Wilson and the various Avengers books and possibly more.

Yeah, I think the villains are being set up as somewhat sympathetic figures. And I think you're right that the Thunderbolts will spin out of that.

I can't get too worked up about SHIELD though. When the JLA mindwiped Dr Light that was problematic because that bell couldn't be unrung. But that was the JLA. SHIELD are basically just a bunch of guys. The bad apples can be swapped out at some point and things can return to normal.  Having said that, I don't think it's very plausible that Hill went that far off the reservation and everyone just went along with her.

I’ll tell you what I liked about AS:AOPHA #1. Apart from Steve, Bucky, Sam and Rick (four of my favorite characters), I liked the characterization of Maria Hill. I don’t necessarily like the character Maria Hill, but I think a person in that role and situation would behave exactly the way she did in this story.

Regarding some of the other objections made, I can't get too worked up about SHIELD, either, and I never did buy Atlas’ redemption story arc. Steve Rogers undoubtedly will come out of this story rejuvenated, because he’s got a new book on the horizon. The last I saw of Cap, he was riding his motorcycle off into the sunset (no “Dimension Z” on Earth-J), and I’m ready for him to come back.

I really truly enjoyed the first couple issues of this storyline. Man, Jesus Saiz is a brilliant artist, and he really shines here. Nick Spencer is quite the writer as well--this extra-long issue never seemed to drag at all, and it was a pure pleasure to read.

My one nitpick is that I would have liked to see the "citizens" of Pleasant Hill continue through their happy days for a little while longer, so that it would really sting them a little more poignantly by the time they finally (for some reason?) got their memories back.

One of the points was that they are NOT happy. They are programmed to accept their role and accept their new lives. They might be living peacefully but they have no freedom nor do they have a future. Are any of them married? Have kids? Would that even be allowed? Doubtful since Kobik was the only "child" there.

Still, having Klaw being the radio deejay was genius!

Sure, but I guess I kind of liked the fact that it would have added another layer to the gray-scale if the criminals truly were happy as citizens of Pleasant Hill. (Which I just realized was named after Maria Hill.)

Philip Portelli said:

One of the points was that they are NOT happy. They are programmed to accept their role and accept their new lives. They might be living peacefully but they have no freedom nor do they have a future. Are any of them married? Have kids? Would that even be allowed? Doubtful since Kobik was the only "child" there.

Still, having Klaw being the radio deejay was genius!

I think it's the writer's intention to show us a situation where the villains are being treated unfairly and inhumanely. It doesn't seem like anyone but Maria Hill thinks this a good idea and she isn't exactly a POV character.

For me, the disconnect will occur if we have actual established heroes who think that the Clockwork Orange approach to incarceration is a good idea.

*cough* (Iron Man) *cough*

Well, I broke down and picked up Uncanny Avengers 7 and to my surprise I found it to be a really entertaining comic.  I missed the SHIELD tie-in story which might explain why some of the events here confused me a little, but so far Standoff feels like it's a little better than your average event to me.

My fear is that Standoff is not stand-alone but a prelude to Civil War II.

And we all had so much fun with the first one! Yikes!

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