It’s a double-dose of the Hickman-Vengers this week, and it’s really welcome at this point. This was another very good issue of New Avengers, mainly because it focused on the characters and their reactions to the moral lines they are crossing, not on ridiculous mumbo-jumbo words and huge concepts that are hard to explain. This issue jumps forward a month in time, and catches us up with what the Illuminati are doing. I think it’s very impressive how Hickman is managing to make his story fit in with what other writers are doing. He’s not just ignoring the fact that Iron Man is off in space or that Reed Richards is in the Multiverse, he’s addressing it and making it work. We even get to see new-look Beast in this issue, which is cool.
The main story in this issue is the still-simmering tensions between not only Namor and Black Panther, but their countries, Wakanda and Atlantis. Atlanteans destroyed Wakanda in Avengers Vs X-Men, and it has not been forgotten. The conversation between those two characters in this issue was just fantastic stuff, you can tell they want to kill each other, but they can’t afford to. I think it’s also very clever of Hickman to have Shuri ignore her brother and declare war. This is the price the Illuminati have to pay for keeping secrets. If the rest of the Wakandans and Atlanteans knew about the incursions, they may have decided to call a truce, but since they are unaware of the cosmic backdrop, they will fight. It’s tragic and brilliant.
I also found the dinner conversation between Reed, Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom to be fascinating, especially in how Reed and Strange came off as the bad guys, not Doom. I’m sure there are some fans who hate how our supposed ‘heroes’ are acting, but to me, it works, the stakes here are so huge that what they are doing is necessary. It doesn’t make it any less odd though. I was on the side of Doom! That is not supposed to happen. Oh yeah, and Black Bolt is up to something with Maximus, and once again, the character who is normally the villain, Maximus is shown in the more positive light, this book is flipping everything upside down.
After spending the last few months drawing the hell out of Avengers, Mike Deodato jumps over to the New side and he does his usual excellent job, I think the change to having no inker and being coloured by Frank Martin has given his work a new freshness, it looks awesome.