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‘U.S.Agent #2’ (review)

Written by Christopher Priest
Art by Georges Jeanty
Published by Marvel Comics

 

I don’t know what this comic is supposed to be. I’m confused!

Is U.S.Agent making fun of rural folk, or trying to spotlight them as nuanced human beings?

The characters are both defensive and backward-sounding at the same time, and I don’t know what the point is beyond sounding like every “I’m proud to be a redneck” country song.

What am I supposed to make of Smokey, whom, again, Georges Jeanty draws to resemble Mama June? In one scene, she shoos away her kid for holding a gun playfully, but then immediately chastises a character offended by a child pointing a handgun at him, by saying she only lets them clean and field strip the guns.

Oh, and while Smokey’s child is taught to replace sights on guns with TFXs, she doesn’t have indoor plumbing while pointing at an outhouse.

Or an odd exchange between John Walker and a Black tow truck driver who says they’re all rednecks and they’re “too broke to be prejudiced.”

Why would the Black man be saying to the white one?

The story picks up with Walker being attacked and apprehended by another set of operatives, led by – surprise – his estranged sister Kate.

We get some family tensions between the siblings, and the idea that John followed his brother Mike into the soldier life, and now he’s concerned Kate is following his own disgraced footsteps. We see flashbacks to a tragic house fire in their childhood, and Kate references eight years in witness protection. What for, I don’t know.

Maybe we’ll find out later?

But before all that, we get a little more of interviews with ex-mining townspeople from Ephraim, West Virginia, the site of the Amazon-like distribution center that was blown up by the former mine workers. Little do they know the center was a cover for a black site housing some classified bit of awful that S.H.I.E.L.D. (or what’s left of it currently) is trying to keep a lid on.

Kate tells us a little more about that black site later in the story, but at the beginning we also meet a man named Manning, who’s giving a lecture at Harvard Business School. This section is drowning in investor jargon, but it all appears to be about securities – tradeable assets that may or may not be backed by actual money, resources or goods.

What does this have at all to do with the story?

I don’t know. But we do get to see this lecturer mention something about something in Ephraim, and then he injects some glowing blue substance into his body, and the super-muscles start tearing his clothes. So this guy is more than meets the eye.

Is this mysterious Manning the same as the cliffhanger surprise we meet later, when John Walker has huffed off after arguing with sister Kate about that traumatic past.

The entire feeling of reading this book is herky-jerky.

I’m not a hardcore Marvel reader, but this feels like I don’t know anything at all and am struggling to catch up despite finding little to no record of these characters in any fan databases or anything.

Maybe the next issue will clear this up a bit.

 

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