Update - Added reviews for Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Avengers: Ares and Ms Marvel, which you can find at the bottom of the post.
The time skip for this issue jumped to Kate's time in the military, which I assume puts her around college age. It had been her dream to be be in the marine corp and take after her father and deceased mother, but she was drummed out due to her homosexuality and how it was forbidden at the time. It was a well written sequence, which overshadowed Williams III's art for once, and seeing Kate's father's reaction to her being kicked out of the military was excellent. Most writers opt to go with the drama of having the parent(s) react with disgust or anger towards their child being homosexual, so it was just refreshing to see a positive take on it.
The second part of Power to the People, the Electro centric chapter of The Gauntlet storyline, is pretty much more of the same with Electro's public crusade to stop the corporate fat cats from getting all the bail out money. I didn't really care for the premise the first time around and was hoping it would be dropped or we'd move on by now, but it continues to escalate with this issue.
My biggest complaint with the issue is how the public is shown to rally around him. I know people complain about bail outs for the large corporations and the premise that the DB would be the only newspaper to receive a bail out is a tad over the top, but what the hell is wrong with the people of New York in the Marvel Universe? They know who Electro is. They've put up with his power outages and destruction of public property. They wouldn't rally behind a Charles Manson if he was ranting and raving on YouTube about corporate bail outs. Why would they hang on every word from Electro? Why would they openly attack Spider-Man, who's been on the Avengers for a while now? Even if they believed the reports he's a villain, you don't run at some armed gunman, why would anyone jump a guy that can snap you in two or throw cars like they're cardboard? The entire premise is flawed in my eyes and it's hard to overlook the absurdity of people acting in this way simply to propel this story forward and prevent the villain from being captured.
It even turns out Electro has set up this elaborate YouTube popularity contest so as to blackmail Dexter Bennett for money so Electro can have his powers fixed by the Thinker. Bennett quickly cedes to his demands and Electro gets "cured". The cure, however, is actually just a huge power up for him. Seeing as the last time I bothered reading an Electro story revolved around him being suped up and X-Man was even involved, it's rather disappointing to read another power up story for him.
In the end, Electro easily defeats Spider-Man and goes on to double crosses Bennett, issuing a demand for everyone in New York to turn on as many electrical devices as possible. Why? I guess he's going to drain the power or some other nonsense. It'd be easier to just go to the power station himself though. What's worse is the people are shown in the background cheering him on as they watch this nut case rant and rave about how he's going to destroy a building in downtown New York with all the power they'll juice him up with.
Verdict - Avoid It. There's not much positive to say here. The entire premise for this storyline is flawed and it's hard to accept any other part of it without ignoring the fundamental parts of the story.
I loved the first issue of Dark Avengers: Ares. It was the first time Ares had been treated like something other than the meathead he's portrayed as in the various Avengers titles since his revamping in the Ares: God of War miniseries. The entire first issue dealt with him training a pack of elite HAMMER agents, known as his Shades, and Ares being varying degrees of awesome.
My only concern was with the final part of the first issue that had Hera informing Ares that his son, which we presumed to mean Phobos, as did Ares, had been kidnapped and injured. Ares vowed to save his son and punish those involved as well as Nick Fury for his incompetence in protecting him.
That doesn't sound too bad to be a concern, but you have to remember, the whole Ares/Phobos connection has been covered in Thunderbolts, Dark Avengers and Secret Warriors and portrayed differently in each one. I was not looking forward to a fourth iteration of that story or the headaches involved with figuring out where it fit.
Thankfully, Gillen went in a different direction for the "son of Ares" plot. Simply put, Ares has had more than one child over the years. They've all kind of died though. After watching Ares sky surf on a bunker smashing missile (yes, it's as awesome as it sounds), the whole Phobos story was turned on its head as it was revealed that the son in question was Kyknos, a horned demonic looking humanoid that died fighting Hercules way back when.
From there, we get a plot about Kyknos being promised the title of God of War and returned to life if he kills his father by Pluto, the lord of the dead, as a favour for Hera, who's upset with Ares's joining arms with the Avengers and other heroes. It's a simple plot that allows Ares to do what he does best - wage war on hordes of undead and Gillen litters the book with lots of great moments, like a discussion on Spartans and the movie, 300, or Ares succiently describing how magic works to his Shades or the afforementioned bomb riding scene. My favourite moment, though, has to be his redefining of the word defense. He forbids the use of any version of the word defense due to it being one of Athena's "words", which prompts one of his Shades to suggest they employ a "stationary offense" instead.
Verdict - Must Read. This is easily shaping up to be one of the best mini-series of the year. If you can't understand the appeal of Ares, buy this book. You'll be a bleliever soon enough. Just an enjoyable from start to finish.
Ms. Marvel is a title I'd given up on after several attempts to get into it. I enjoyed certain aspects of it, such as Carol's desire to be the Superman-like pinnacle of hope that she was in House of M or her attempts at a real life or even the guest appearances by in-Nextwave-character Aaron Stack/Machine Man. However, the positives didn't outweigh the absurd plots the book pursued, such as weird psychic babies, Carol dying, coming back as multiple energy forms, Carol merging with strange aliens and other craziness that just got away from the original premise of the book.
So, you ask, why am I buying this random issue? This issue picks up on a small throw away line from an earlier issue I read which saw Spider-Man request a date from Ms. Marvel for helping her out to which she agreed. With her dying and everything, that was never followed up on. Until now.
What we get here is a awkward date between Peter Parker and Carol Danvers that is just a fun done-in-one story that anyone can pick up and enjoy. I had some issues with how Peter was portrayed almost like a complete slob, but those were fleeting and watching the two struggle to find common ground or quickly falling back on 'shop talk' about super heroes and their villains was great. I doubt the two have any future together, but it's fun stories like this that almost, and I mean almost, make the whole One More Day/no marriage idea make some sort of sense. Almost.
Verdict - Check It. As I said, it's a fun done-in-one story about a date between Ms Marvel and Spider-Man and all that that entails. There's some mild super heroics mixed in to liven it up and the awkwardness between the two on the date was fun to read. Nothing I'd rush back to the comic shop to pick up, but if you've got some spare cash and/or enjoy Spider-Man stories, you may want to grab this for a solid read.