The Trial of the Brute!
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Cary Nord (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Gina Going-Raney (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)
Summary: The Brute stands trial for the murders of Man-Spider and the Green Goblin. Matt Murdock’s surprise witness is none other than Man-Spider himself, who claims his clone was the true victim. Suddenly, the courtroom is attacked by Hand ninjas and Bullseye, giving Madelyne and the Fallen an opportunity to lock the Brute in an empty room. When he emerges, the Brute dismisses his lawyer, pleads guilty, and asks for the death penalty.
“That’s Crazy Because They’re Different”: Gwen Stacy is a television reporter in this reality. Matt Murdock (presumably his first name is Matt, at least) is a trial lawyer, but no mention is made of Daredevil. Bullseye is essentially the same character, although he has a new costume.
Better Than X-Factor?: Yes, and it’s an improvement over the previous issue. Mackie’s main focus seems to be playing up the Madelyne Summers/Goblin Queen subplot; so much so that the Hand and Bullseye fight scenes are only given a few pages at the end of the issue. An unknown force is manipulating Madelyne into transforming into the Goblin Queen, and while the Fallen is in on her secret, that doesn’t stop her from horribly torturing him off-panel when he steps out of line. These scenes work pretty well, although Mackie seems to have forgotten about them just a few pages later, since the Fallen is still associating with Madelyne without any apparent resentment. Regardless, the Goblin Queen mystery is one of the more promising subplots in the series, so hopefully the payoff will be worth the wait.
Meanwhile, the Brute is on trial, which may or may not be a reference to the Beast’s trial from the first season of the X-Men cartoon. The courtroom scenes are slightly repetitive, but Cary Nord does a great job on the closing fight sequence. Unfortunately, as nice as the fight looks, it feels tacked on. This is the most interesting thing Nord’s been asked to draw in the issue, and it’s rushed through on the final five pages for some reason. At least a few of the numerous pages of Havok thinking to himself or escorting little Scotty around could’ve been cut, easily.