The aftermath of Infinity begins now, as the various members of the Illuminati pick up the pieces and move on, in another excellent issue of this title.
The best scene of the issue for me comes at the beginning, as Black Panther is confronted by his sister Shuri about what’s been going on in The Necropolis and some of that truth actually comes to light, as the fact that Namor has been visiting T’Challa whilst their two countries have been at war is revealed. The ongoing conflict between Namor and Black Panther as well as their respective kingdoms has been my favourite part of this series, and the fact that Hickman used this big event to move it on even more is really cool. When Shuri discovers this collusion, and T’Challa does not explain himself, he is banished from Wakanda, which is of course a big deal for the former king. The capper to this is Namor coming in and applauding T’Challa for not revealing the truth of the Incursions and all that. Hickman writes one of the best Sub-Mariner’s ever, he such a glorious tool, I can’t wait to see just how much further he can push the Panther before they come to blows again.
Elsewhere, Black Bolt and Maximus The Mad are still in hiding after blowing up Attillan, Inhumanising the whole world and faking their own deaths. It is revealed that Black Bolt’s powers have been severely diminished by his fight with Thanos. I’m excited to see where they are going with Black Bolt, it looks like in Matt Fraction’s stories, most of the other Inhumans will believe he’s dead, but he should still be an interesting player in this title, even with less power.
Doctor Strange’s scene in this issue was very intriguing indeed, it looks like being mind-controlled by the Ebony Maw has pushed Strange to try something new, he’s tired of sitting on the sidelines when he has so much power and he’s going to be more proactive. He locks himself in his room (in a non stroppy teenager sense) and delves into the ‘Blood Bible’. I’m looking forward to where this goes, Strange is obviously one of Marvel’s best characters, but as he says here, he’s often off in the margins, it’s going to fun to see him take a more central role in this book, and is it too much to ask for a Hickman-penned ongoing or mini-series? That would be amazing.
Finally, Beast, Iron Man and Mr Fantastic are finishing up their check-up of the various weapons and secrets that may have been damaged in Thanos’ attack, last on their list is Black Swan, who although I still dislike her character as the living embodiment of everything bad about Hickman’s writing, does set things up very nicely for the future. She points out that they didn’t actually defeat Thanos, that it was Thane who stopped him, and they also didn’t stop the most recent incursion themselves, that was the Builders. The Illuminati keep getting through these scrapes by the skin of their teeth, but sooner or later, their luck will run out and they will have to make the choice to blow up another world properly and on purpose. Black Swan also tells them that there are things worse than The Builders out there. There are the Mapmakers, who we’ve seen before, and giant cosmic dudes called The Black Priests, or The Ivory Kngs, and other intimidating names. Basically, defeating Thanos and The Builders wasn’t the ending of what Hickman has planned… it’s only the beginning, which… yeah, that’s big, I’m pumped.
Infinity has, as I’ve said before, moved the Avengers titles into a cosmic zone, and this issue shows that it’s not stopping, things are going to get even better. It’s good to see that, even though the crossover may be over, that huge cosmic scale is still there, and, that combined with interesting character directions for Namor, Black Panther and Black Bolt (Iron Man, Beast and Reed aren’t changing as much, but they have other titles for that), this book really is getting bigger and better.
Mike Deodato’s artwork was once again excellent, the little glimpses of the future cosmic threats were great, as were the weird demons Doctor Strange summoned. He nails the quieter moments too, especially with Black Panther.